My Friend Jake
It seems like forever since I first started receiving emails, newspaper clippings and face book advice about this guy named Jake. Apparently, Jake was on his own long distance quest, starting in Wisconsin, winding down the Mississippi, out the Gulf, down Florida and up to NY, where he would cut back across the locks to the same place he started.... Boy, that was a mouthful. After a bit of time, I finally had the opportunity to email Jake, introduce myself and offer any advice I could.
You see, at this point in time, I was ahead of Jake as I moved up the Atlantic Coast and he made the turn around south Florida. We corresponded a few times early on, but then I was being beat up by the Atlantic and Jake was taking a much needed rest. As our trips progressed, our correspondences grew, and I felt like we were becoming friends. I knew that both of us wanted an opportunity to meet up, but neither of us were sure how that would happen.
As we both moved our way up the coast, it became very apparent that the waters of the ICW were treating Jake better than the OBX was treating me. The guy paddles fast and he was quickly catching up. As I entered NJ, Jake was only 100 miles or so behind me, and catching up quickly. The night I paddled into and out of NYC I got a note from him telling me he was only 3 days out. Surely this would be our chance to finally meet, two long distance paddlers covering the same distance and terrain but taking much different routes.
Unfortunately I was unable to secure a place to stay in NYC and I had to tell Jake that it would have to be some day in the future that we got the chance to meet. The funny thing was that I knew in my heart that we were going to meet, I just assumed it would be well down the road, sometime after we both had finished our treks. Well, fate and the Universe works in mysterious ways.
I had spoken to Tom from Maine Island Kayak Company about some boat repairs, only to find out that his symposium was taking place in a couple of days right down the road from where I was staying. He extended an invite and I was excited to attend. I then got a note from Jake, apparently it is a small world and he had heard I would be attending the symposium. He was going to try his best and attend.
This past Friday, the evening of the first night, we finally got our chance to meet and solidify a friendship borne from kindred spirits. We have over 8000 miles of solo paddling between the two of us over the past year and half. Really an amazing number if you think about it. While we have taken two very different paths to achieve these numbers, we have in common a love for the water, the people that play and work there, and a great fondness for our Kayaks.
Jake and I had a chance to spend a good deal of time talking and comparing notes. It was amazing how similar we both are in our thoughts and approaches. We then had the honor of putting on a presentation to the group highlighting our respective trips and the stark differences between the ICW and the Atlantic. I can honestly say that Jake will be a great friend for life. I look forward to seeing him again in the future. Stay tuned as we may get the chance to take the Jake and Glenn show on the road next year and do some really great presentations for the Kayak community.
You can read more about Jake at his website: http://www.portagetoportage.com
Safe paddling my friend!