Packing was pretty normal, and as usual, I tried to pack lighter but didn't seem to do what I'd hoped. Solo trips seem to require much of the same gear as the multiple partner trips. I got my car tied down; my Boundary Waters Wenonah secured on top with foam blocks and tie downs on the front and back. I felt good about my 840 mile trip to LaTourell's, so I got started at about noon. After driving about 7 hours I noticed a really neat roadside park with beautiful rock formations.
Awhile later I was near Eau Claire and planning on stopping at a rest area on Hwy 53 to sleep for as long as I could sleep. When I got to a rest area about 35 miles north of Eau Claire, I discovered a pretty nice place, but I was the only car in the area. I didn't feel comfortable there, so I drove a few more miles into Rice Lake and checked into a Super 8 on their Main Street. My car was parked right outside my room window and in a very well-lit area near the office, so I felt like my canoe was safe there. Slept until ~ 7:00, then got started after a little continental breakfast - not at all like the Super 8 in Evelyth, MN, but I did get some food in my body. This morning was pretty nice, with some clouds and a little more wind. As I got near Duluth, the wind picked up significantly with some rain, and I learned quickly that the foam blocks without a rack on top the car just weren't very good at all. This was my second trip with this newly-bought used canoe, so I was still in the learning faze of canoe hauling. The canoe was moving sideways some with wind gusts as I went over the bridge, and I needed to pull over and adjust my canoe, tightening my straps and tie downs as bast I could. I continued to have this problem as the wind continued to gust, and I probably had to stop ~ 5 times to make adjustments. Once north of Evelyth I pulled over and discovered that one of my foam blocks was gone. I walked back ~ 300 yards and luckily found it in the weeds off the shoulder of the highway. Next time it happened I was able to see it blow off in my rear view mirror and find it quickly. This was becoming a difficult scenario for me to travel. I knew by now that I really needed to have a rack on top or go back to rental canoes as in the past. I got to Ely at ~ noon and parked to do some walking around and have lunch at Subway. I bought a foot long, and I saved half for my dinner, which I would do during my bunkhouse stay that night at LaTourell's. I decided to purchase an extra foam block at Voyageur's North. I needed to be better-equipped for a windy trip back home after my paddle. Drove on to LaTourell's, got there by 3:30, checked into a very nicely renovated bunkhouse room with small fridge, air & heat, and 2 bunk beds. Would have been great for up to 4 people. Got my canoe off the car and stowed it under their canoe racks for the night. Mindy helped a foursome that came in early with one tripper's broken wrist. I learned that they were also from St Louis. I will look them up when I get home, as they live not too far away from me. Amazing coincidence! I spent the rest of the day checking my packs and gear and reading "The Affair," a good Jack Reacher mystery. I also double-checked my planned route, which I have done many times before. I chose a very simple route, getting a tow to the portage to Splash Lake, then paddling either to the only campsite on Splash or into Ensign and finding a good open campsite there to base camp for a few days of fishing. Settled up with Bob, bought my fishing license, ate my sandwich with my last soda for awhile, and by 8:00 was ready for a good night of sleep. With my 4 medications I do sleep pretty well!