Student finding lots of Minnesota Nice on fast-flowing river
He walked from the riverbank to the coffee shop in St. Peter wearing rubber boots and the grime that came from days of hard paddling and camping on the Minnesota River.
A couple of young men approached him with raised eyebrows and asked: "What's your story?''
He told it a few hours later around a bonfire with his new-found friends, who insisted that he enjoy the comforts of their home before returning to his adventure.
It's been that way all along the Minnesota River for Rudy Goldstein, 23, of Hutchinson. "That's something I hadn't been expecting," said Goldstein. "The kindness of strangers.''
Goldstein launched his 12-foot, Old Town Dirigo kayak from the back yard of his parents' home in Hutchinson on April 25. He followed the South Fork of the Crow River to the Mississippi River, and continued downstream to Fort Snelling. Ever since, he's been paddling upstream against the strong, spring-time flow of the 335-mile-long Minnesota River.
He's on his way to re-create the adventure that Eric Sevareid and Walter Port have made famous. Sevareid's book "Canoeing with the Cree'' tells how the two paddled 2,250 miles from Minneapolis to Hudson Bay in 1930.
There have been plenty of other tandem paddlers following that route since: In 2008, Colton Witte and Sean Bloomfield, both of Chaska, raced to the saltwater in 49 days.
Goldstein could be the first, or is certainly among a select few, to take on the challenge solo in a kayak.
He has until early August to make what he calculates to be a 2,600-mile trip via waterways from Hutchinson to Hudson Bay. He will begin studies toward a doctorate in cognitive psychology at the University of Kansas on Aug. 12.
He earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Minnesota-Duluth in 2009 and spent last summer doing physical work in remote areas of southeast Alaska. One summer earlier, he served as a crew leader with the Minnesota Conservation Corps in northern Minnesota.
He wanted to spend this summer outdoors too, but with a caveat: "I wanted to actually like go somewhere,'' he said.
He thought about following the Mississippi River to New Orleans, but felt that a trip to the north country would offer more of the remote, wilderness environments that he enjoys most. He made up his mind when a friend told him about Sevareid's and Port's trip. He got a copy of ''Canoeing with the Cree'' and couldn't put it down.
Goldstein said he's enjoyed lots of support ever since he announced his plans. His parents, friends, and his former co-workers at Zella's Restaurant in Hutchinson have all encouraged him.
No one could join him, but Goldstein said the thought of making the trip on his own didn't really worry him.
What he didn't anticipate is all the company and generosity he's enjoyed from strangers whenever he stops in a town along the way.
It's been much appreciated too. The long spat of cool, wet weather, the constant head winds and the sheer physical challenge of paddling against the current of the Minnesota River are the kinds of things that can wear on you, he said.
Dreary, gray clouds poured a cold and steady rain on him as he reached Granite Falls on Tuesday evening.
He was feeling optimistic about his prospects of reaching Hudson Bay. "Despite the (lousy) weather I've come this far and I'm still having a good time. It tells me it's only going to get better,'' he said.
With help from friends, he periodically updates a blog: www/paddlepaddle.blogspot.com