September 2nd 2016
Poultney, VT

Right back where I started from.

Well, a few hours south, but the same state and my old home. I hitched a ride up here with my parents. Yes, I spent 4 hours in a car with my folks. It’s quite funny to be around them, but especially in close quarters. My Mom in the back seat talking to my Dad and I. My Dad, who is driving is partially deaf. His bad ear is the right one or the one facing the rest of the passengers. This is how something like that goes. My Mom starts it with a story about something she saw, read or heard. It doesn’t really matter, but this time it was an article she was reading in the newspaper to me. My Dad knows something is being said, but not sure what.

Mom: Begins reading story.
Dad: What?
Mom: continues reading
Dad: What?
Mom: continue reading
Dad: I can’t hear you!
Mom to me: and I’m the one who gets all the Hearing Aid mail.
Dad: What?

Now multiply that over four hours. All you can do is laugh. Young people, this is what you are agreeing to when you say ‘I do’. Me, I just laugh at the free comedy routine playing out next to me.

We arrived in Vermont around 7pm, but one does not go directly to the lake house when Mom is aboard. You have to stop at the grocery store first. It doesn’t matter if they just left two days ago or a month ago. It never mattered when I was living here full time. My Mom must stop at the grocery store around the corner and stock up. Of course, this would be in addition to the carload of food and a packed large Colman Refrigerator they travel with. Our arrival at the house happened around 8pm. An hour later we got to eat dinner. And just like that, I was back here.

I don’t know how many people have ever moved and then returned to the very place they moved from. Last time I was here was two months ago. Arlene and I had left this house on July 1. Prior to that, I had sold everything I owned. Packed what I needed into a kayak and abandoned the rest. I had no intentions of returning here. Maybe to visit, but not to live again, but here I was.

I made an announcement on Facebook and the “Welcome Home” messages began arriving, but there was a problem. I wasn’t home. This wasn’t home. Home is where your heart is, right? So where is my heart. I walked around; I visited with my neighbors whom I use to spend so much time with. I walked into my old room. Saw the basement I had worked so hard renovating, all finished. I walked down to the water, the water I had missed so much. This wasn’t home. This is where I use to live and perhaps this will be where I spend a few months as I work things through, but home, no, its not here.

The next day I sent a message to the Slate Quarry Park Group. I was a founding member and had been serving as Treasure before departing. Leaving that project and the Board was harder than leaving the house back in July. The park project is something I believed in the moment I met stone carver Kerri O. Furlani. She told me about her vision and together, we recruited people and gave birth to the Park. When I had left, I had negotiated a deal with the landowner and we were awaiting a Purchase contract on the land. We had also raised Ten Thousand Dollars for the purchase and had an additional Ten Thousand pledged. The Park was one of the emotional issues I had a tug of war with during my journey. As it turned out, there was a Park Meeting that night. They were excited to have me back and I was reinstated as Treasurer. Unlike the empty feeling of arriving at the lake house, I left the meeting invigorated, happy and excited. I knew now that I need to see the park completed before I can move on.

Today was a bit more settling being at the house. Still didn’t feel like home, but perhaps it’s not supposed to be. Perhaps my purpose here is just the park, but I had another issue that was playing with my emotions today; Deception.

Deception is a strong word. Nothing about it is pleasant, but sometimes people who are deceptive may not know it. Are you being deceptive when you leave out pertinent facts in a story? How about if you leave them out in a picture? There are some really cool pictures that look amazing due to the camera angle, but in fact the are not. Details, I’ve always been about details. If you’re an avid reader here, you probably know that already about me. I simply love details.

I never set out on my kayak journey to break or set a record. I didn’t set out to be an Adventurer, though many called me just that. I once billed myself as an Adventurer as I did adventurous things, but then I met true adventurers. These were people who took risks, risks of life and limb. People who set out to battle the elements head on and were willing to walk away damaged, injured or sometimes not walk away at all, having succumbed to the battle they fought. Often times, Adventurers are alone for days, weeks or months.

One of the things I’ve discovered on my trip was that I don’t like to be alone. I always liked to entertain, but this was different. Being alone and isolated from human contact for an entire day, day after day was traumatic to me. Sure, I met wonderful people at the end of the day, but I never wanted to let those people go. I wanted to stay there with them. This was magnified in New Jersey when I’d be paddling through areas without any human contact aside from a speeding boat once in awhile, but even there, I never even received an acknowledgement of existence from the captains perched high above the water in their tinted Cockpits, not even a wave or shoutout on the radio.

When I picked this journey, I picked Key West as it was the farthest place I could paddle to without support boats and I didn’t want to make this a team sport. I was seeking something very personal. Still, I did lot of research and found many people who had done this very trip themselves. I read their blogs researched their gear and talked to some personally. When I ran into trouble arriving in New Jersey, I reached out to many of them again, but this time with specific questions. It’s amazing how things change when you ask a person specific questions. I should note that everyone I had talked to who was doing this was fully sponsored. That means companies were supplying everything from the kayaks, to the gear and food.

After I ran into problems and called, emailed and met some of these folks, I discovered something. None of them paddled their entire route. Only one person mentioned that in their blog and it was at the very end. No, all these folks had either a support crew on land following them, had skipped over technical sections or portaged around restricted areas. Some used ferries and cars to advance themselves due to time constraints or to avoid areas or weather. Some did all of that, others did some of that, none of them paddled it all.

Many years ago I met some amazing people and that list has continued to grow. Individuals who flew to California with their bicycle, stepped off the plane, got their bike and gear and rode back to the East Coast. Motorcyclists who compete in the Iron Butt Challenge or Rally Races; these are riders who endure tough physical and emotional challenges covering thousands of miles in a very short period of time. I met and walked with Anna Harrington, who although was fully supported in her walk across America, insisted she took every step along the way. You could pick her up, but she had to be returned to the very spot where she stopped. Karl Bushby, the first man to walk across the Bering Strait and soon to be the first man to walk around the world. My life has been full of meeting amazing people, so you can imagine how disappointed I was when I learned that these kayakers and paddlers whom I had come to admire were in fact, not admirable. Suddenly I realized that if I had not been rescued 2 miles off the Sandy Hook coast, if I had not portaged the kayak from Sandy Hook to Point Pleasant, I would have been the first person to actually paddle the entire length. Yet, that was not my goal, not my purpose. Not my dream.

Then I found this description of Adventurer:

ad·ven·tur·er

adˈven(t)SHərər,ədˈven(t)SHərər/

noun

  1. a person who enjoys or seeks adventure.
    • a person willing to take risks or use dishonest methods for personal gain.

“a political adventurer”
I then began to wonder, had I too been deceptive? My first post was clear as to the why, but the title: Canada to Key West Paddle may have been deceptive. When I set out, I clearly intended to reach Key West and along the way I was hoping to find myself, find my peace, but soon I realized that the peace the water had once given me was gone. The joy of being on the water – gone. I was tired of being alone, isolated and battling the elements day after day.

I do believe there will be a time when I will go back and paddle section after section of the trip, but no longer would it be in a solid trip and perhaps, not alone. I hope no one feels that I was deceptive. It hurt to leave the water that last time knowing my journey was done and the trip, forever incomplete. It may become my biggest regret or my turning point. That is a chapter unwritten. For now I know one thing…

I am not home.

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Larry Jensen, Founder of Wonder of Wander. A vagabond traveler exploring the world. Follow me as I take you to some amazing places and meet interesting people, all on a shoestring budget. If you like my stories, please donate below. (Click the "P" for Paypal)

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