Thursday, June 21, 2012


It all started with this email in my inbox last Friday:

Hi Kara!  I found your blog and it sounds like you have a terrific family!  My son grew up and decided to paddle across Canada!  He is coming into faro in the next day or two!  He is a big (wonderful) guy named Steve.  If you see him and his friends please say hi to him from his mom!  We love him so!  If your boys ever come to Minnesota they are welcome in our home!  Thanks!  Jan keaveny

Neat!  But what are the chances I will run across Steve, I thought to myself?  I wrote back to Jan and told her that if we found Steve we would invite him up for a cold beer and a hot meal.

Saturday we spent a couple of hours down at our school volunteering to clean up after the previous night's high school graduation.  As we were walking out, I saw two scruffy guys in expensive gear walking out of the library.  Ah ha!  I walked right up (because anyone who knows me, knows this is exactly what I do), and said, "Hey, which one of you is Steve?  Jan sends her love!"  The guys looked at each other and back at me with confused expressions on their faces.  They told me that Steve was back at the tent, but how the heck did I know Steve?

So I told them about the email and proceeded to make good on the offer I told Jan about and invited them up to our house for beer and hot food.  I rounded up their partners, including Steve, from their tents down on the Pelly River.  Steve looked stupefied when I yelled, "Hello Steve, your mom misses you!  Come on up for beer!"  It was hilarious!

This group of four friends are canoeing 4000km across the north.  They started in Skagway (hiking the Chilkoot in snow), then towed their canoes across the frozen Lake Labarge, afterwards paddled down the Yukon river and now up the Pelly River.  They will eventually cross the Northwest Territories and finally head into Nunavut finishing up their trip in Chesterfield Inlet.  Why?  They explain the trip nicely on their website:

The crew hopes the trip will promote awareness of the role responsible recreation can play in conserving Canadian rivers and perhaps those through out the world. Keeping these river systems and expedition routes navigable and pristine should appeal to outdoor professionals, weekend warriors, and living room admirers alike.

Matt and I have a solid history of taking strangers into our home or helping them out, so this was nothing new!  We have taken in pilots stranded due to weather, a PhD student doing research, a young offender who had beat up guys with a crow bar for booze, northern bloggers who happen to visit our community and on and on.  We enjoy the company of all sorts of people and love the stories they have to share.  Matt and I are also firm believers that kindness comes around.

All of Saturday afternoon and late into the evening were spent in the company of Steve, Matt, Pete, and Winchell.  We discovered that Pete had once even canoed to Kugluktuk during the time we had lived there!  They told us stories of their previous trips, shared how much they missed loved ones, show us pictures of this adventure, and entertained our boys.  I made sure they ate their weight in good food (ham and bean stew, moose sausages, fresh veggies and chocolate cake) and Matt kept the beer flowing.  They all got to use the phone to make calls to family, shower, and enjoy some computer time. 

We took them back to their camp late that night.  Since Sunday they were only going a short distance upriver to a scheduled supply stop and rest day at Lynx Tracks B&B which is just 15 minutes out of Faro, I put out the offer for them to come back to town to visit again.  Earlier in the evening the conversation had turned to tv and a couple of the guys shared my addiction to the Game of Thrones series on tv.  They were out of their minds when I told them I had the entire season on the computer because they had only watched a few episodes before they headed out on their trip.  So I told them if they came back in on Monday, I would set them up for a Game of Thrones marathon.  They couldn't pass that up!

So late Monday morning, I drove out to Lynx Tracks and picked the four of them up again.  We spoiled them with a vat of moose stew for lunch, homemade chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven for snacks, and homemade pizza for supper.  Again they were able to shower, use the phone and the computers plus do laundry.  I set two of them up for their Game of Thrones marathon down in the basement.  Pete and I had some great zombie conversations and he gave me a parting gift of a new zombie novel that I am now pouring over.  Late that night I returned them to their tents and they sure looked content! 

It was a fantastic run in with strangers and I know their mothers were sure happy to know they had been well fed and taken care of!  I had many a thank you messages from Jan, the mother who sent the first email, and then I had this message from Matt's mother:

Hello Kara
My name is Sue Harren- the mother of Matt.  I cannot express in words our thankfulness for all you did for our sons!
My husband and I are also the parents of two boys and your acts of kindness will have a lasting impression on your sons.
If your travels ever take you to Minnesota please look us up.  We have a place for you to stay!

These touching emails from worried mothers wondering how their boys were doing really touched me.  It made me think about the adventures my own boys will take one day.  I hope first off that our sons will share in our belief that kind acts make this world a better place, and second that they will be the recipients of kind acts when they head out to explore the world.

We wish Pete, Winchell, Steve and Matt safe travels and we hope to see you up north on our door step again soon!  Oh, and expect a parcel from us at your stop in Fort Simpson- we found a leathermen in our truck that one of you forgot and we will make sure it gets back to you.  Thank you Jan for sending that email and allowing us the pleasure of meeting that crazy crew!

Check out their website here and if you see them in your community up north, invite them in for a meal.  I can vouch for them being great guys!  And read about their version of this visit here on their blog.

Feeding the crew!  Matt, Winchell, Pete and Steve along with my Matt and Hunter.


Gen said...

Ah geez Kara, now I'm all misty eyed. You truly are a blessing to all who cross your path. Bless you back, hon!

Trish said...

That is an awesome story!! Can you imagine having a complete stranger come up to them and say 'your mom says hello' haha I love it, I love your heart!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful, simply wonderful. Just when you think that there is little hope in basic kindness towards strangers, you come across a gem like this.

Thank you.

Michelle said...

NIce job Kara!!! We know how kind you are! I am all misty eyed about missin gyou and the kids and when they grow up and maybe they will meet up in a weird place and be like AWEX, CAVAAAN I missed you.. maybe they wont have speech impediments.... and you and I will be all like OMG do you remember so and so and OMG did you know that so and so is a crack whore.. etc. See you in tombstone my kind kind fwiend!

Jan said...

This was great to hear the Kara version! I am Steve's mom and he truly was astounded at the welcome when Kara came to the tent - in the drizzling rain - and invited them over! He was so thankful! I can only imagine how nice chairs and showers and moose stew must have been for them - but best of all was the kindness! Pay it forward, right? I gotta love you, Kara and Matt!

Sue and Greg said...

Really Kara - Games of Throne!! You allowed Matt to watch Games of Throne! A part of this epic expedition was to have no television!! You did spoiled him. I am teasing!! Thank you for your fantastic hospitality and great story. You are a GEM! Sue and Greg.

Sarah said...

:) this is an awesome story... You are awesome Kara!... That trip sounds like such an epic journey!!! :)

Amanda Kays said...

Kara - Thank you Thank you Thank you! My name is Amanda and that big (wonderful) guy, Steve, is my betrothed. To hear his voice (calling from your number) and hear the story of how you were connected, to know they were surround by a kind caring family warmed my heart and eased my worries. I loved reading about your encounter with the boys and cannot fully express my genuine heart felt gratitude for the hospitality you showed the crew. If you and your family find yourself in Utah know you will have a place to stay with a warm meal and some cold beer.

Matt, Kara, Hunter and Cavan said...

Amanda! We got to see pictures of you doing some crazy moves in your kayak! Steve told us how wonderful you are, and talented too.

Awesome group of guys for sure!

Anonymous said...

Kara and Matt,
When back in civilization (from camping in the Porcupine Mountains) I was so relieved to hear about the incredible hospitality you offered our young men -- and just when I had been unable to connect with Peter, my son. After their arduous journey, it was wonderful to be taken in for hearty food and hot showers. Most of all, your family gave them such a deep sense of encouragement. When I finally was able to talk with Peter, he said the boost was immeasurable, how much it means to have people like you rooting for them. You are the best! Becky