Daniel Alvarez and the return to the Northwest Angle

As near as we’ve been able to tell, Daniel Alvarez, the onetime corporate lawyer who chucked it all to kayak from Minnesota to Key West, got there in March and decided to kayak back, has made it back to the Northwest Angle.

It’s hard to tell for sure because his blog and daily diary, Predictably Lost, is written a week behind. His posting today — written last Thursday — placed him on the Black River in Loman, MN. He hasn’t responded to e-mail, so we can only assume he’s made it or is hours away.

WTIP this week posted an interview with him that aired on the 18th, when he rejoined his original route on the Rainy River, just a few miles from his destination. His trip south was primarily via the Mississippi River; his return trip was via the Atlantic Ocean, Canada, and the great lakes.

“I walked into the library in Baudette and the librarian said, ‘you look like you could use a place to stay,'” he said, a typical anecdote about the people he met along the route.

“It’s a bittersweet feeling,” he told WTIP. “I’ve been doing this for 16 months and it becomes your life. It’s what I do and that’s always a tough adjustment. It’s always hard to change things around in life but that’s what life is about; it’s about moving forward and figuring out what’s next.”

While sitting on a spit of sand on Sturgeon Lake earlier this month, he considered life after a two-year trip:

Home. Two quick months to New Years. Fast months. I won’t remember them. I will lie in my bed, wake up, lie there again, wake up, lie there again. I’ll sleep and eat. I won’t know the weather. I won’t care. Wake up. Lie there again. Wake up. They are going to disappear in a blur.

Then what. Then it’s next year and I have no idea what I’m doing. I watch months flip away. Torn calendar pages rip away and flutter to the ground. Fast. They pile fast. Solid as cotton candy. Flipped. Empty. Gone.

It is a beautiful fall day. Warm and bright. The kind that makes me believe winter will never come. I sit and watch the fire burn away. I stand up and mess with it. I break branches apart and toss them on. I shift them around. I play with the coals. The flames jump to life. I sit again. I try to breathe. I stand up.

I’m not built to sit still. I get antsy. I think I should have kept going. I think I wasted the afternoon.

“I’m trying my best not to be a lawyer again,” he told WTIP. “I spent time as a corporate lawyer doing nothing to help the world.”

Update Sunday 10/27 – Daniel confirms he’s arrive in the Angle.

I made it! Reached the Angle late last night after freezing and clawing my way against the wind and snow across Lake of the Woods. Now I just have to figure out how to get out of the Angle. Hopefully I will get out without paddling!

  • Tom in Eagan

    “I spent time as a corporate lawyer doing nothing to help the world.” Best quote I’ve seen in a long time!

  • davidz

    The travels of Wally and the Franks are probably the item I’ve learned about in News Cut that has made the longest term impact on me. I’ve followed their trip in Google Maps, and I’ve learned so much about river travel and how society isn’t oriented to water travel anymore.

  • tboom

    I spent time as a corporate systems analyst doing nothing to help the world (arguably, doing harm). Twelve years ago this Tuesday, I was forced into a change. For the past decade I’ve had a job that makes a small positive difference in the lives of thousands. Collectively, coworkers in my field make a difference in the lives of everyone in the US and the industrialized world (yes there is more to do, that is political). Financially Mrs. Tbooom and I struggle, but I’m more at peace with my role in the world than ever. It’s a good feeling.