Last January we started the new year looking back at 2017 in our first-ever “Year In Review”, but we’re already deviating from that formula because we’re at the end of celebrating our first decade anniversary. Instead of looking back at 2018, we’re going to look back at our ten favorite moments from the first ten years of milespaddled.com.
When I started the blog, I only intended to share our paddles with each other. Meaning, like four of us. Now, ten years later, the four of us rarely paddle, and there’s nearly 1000x as many people who follow the site. That’s pretty awesome. Looking back at all the things I’ve learned and what we’ve been offered by way of a paddling blog – mostly, the friends and connections – I’m rather amazed. It’s beyond any expectations I ever had, because well, there never were any expectations in the first place (how’s that for setting the bar low?).
Things have really been busy the last three years of the site – with more traffic and followers, have come more events and opportunities – and many of my favorite moments occurred within those years. So, while this is the last 10-year anniversary post (I promise, this is it) I’m excited about what the next ten may bring. Who knows what might transpire in that time? Happy New Years everyone and (one last time) cheers to ten amazing years!
01: Canoecopia 2017
If you asked me prior to 2017 whether I’d ever speak at Canoecopia, you would’ve heard a “why?” and then a “probably not”. But eventually Timothy talked me into speaking a bit part at the “big gig” alongside him despite my fear of public-speaking. Long story short: it was as nerve-racking as it was fulfilling to speak at those two talks on those two days. And coincidentally, one of our single-most favorite moments-within-a-moment was being asked to autograph t-shirts for two special Miles Paddled fans after the second talk.
02: First Donation to the River Alliance of Wisconsin
In 2016, the site paid for its own hosting through t-shirt sales, etc., for the first time ever, and we actually surpassed the need. So with the extra, we made a small donation to the River Alliance and have made it a point to do so every year since. It’s pretty unexpected that this little paddle report guide has been able to achieve that, and I’m quite proud of it.
03: The Joy Cardin Show
When Beth Gauper of Midwest Weekends reached out to ask whether we’d be interesting in joining in on a talk on the (sadly, no-longer) Joy Cardin Show, I thought Timothy might be interested and perfect for the opportunity. And he was, on both accounts. This eventually lead to another engagement and another favorite moment on a Wisconsin Public Radio talk show.
Canoecopia 2017 led to a number of unexpected opportunities afterwards. Paddlepalooza was the first. This was an idea by avid paddler and fan of the site, Bill, owner of (coincidentally, my neighborhood bar) the Malt House. The idea was to show videos of our paddles, sell some books, and raise money for the River Alliance of Wisconsin. All three things happened. And it was great to have this first meeting with the many great people of the River Alliance.
05: Miles Paddled Gets Its Name
Before “Miles Paddled” became Miles Paddled (or at least before we had that name) we were some generic blog-url’ed address. Something like paddlingtrackingjournal.blogspot or something like that. It wasn’t until our first trip down the Wisconsin River that we had a name. Inspired because we learned just that – how many miles were paddled – and how many miles is too many miles to paddle in one day. You could say we bit off way more than we could chew in one day. Since then, we counted every mile before and after the paddle. (And we also bought the proper url).
06: Fools’ Flotilla
It took us a few years to actually participate in the Fools’ Flotilla, an only-in-Madison kind of event created to raise awareness for the River Alliance of Wisconsin. The first family of Miles Paddled floated the event while Timothy volunteered to keep people in line. We had such a blast, we had to return in 2018.
07: WI Paddle Interview
One of the first people that ever reached out to me about liking the site was Mark of Wi Paddle. He thought it’d be cool to do an interview about milespaddled.com and the thinking behind it. I always thought that was such a cool thing to do. It’s a moment captured in time when the site was in its infancy, and it was the first time that I thought that maybe there was more to this blog than I thought.
08: 2016 Milespaddled.com Facelift
The site has been redesigned a few times. Really, there were three drastic redesigns but the 2016 version was a monumental task considering the amount of content we had created up to that point. I literally spent months on it, and thanks to my friend/brother-in-paddling, Trent, who patiently fielded my incessant questions, it re-launched without a hitch. The site became more visual, but also a more organized way of showcasing our paddles. I was really happy that the Miles Paddled die-hards liked the new layout and approach since it was a bit of a departure.
09: Milespaddled at Rutabaga
Another opportunity that came our way after Canoecopia and Paddlepalooza was a chance to speak at our favorite damn store on earth – Rutabaga Paddlesports. It was a fun evening, where we talked about the blog, paddling and must-have gear. We were thrilled to be part of that evening.
10: The Larry Meiller Show
OK, so this is the only moment that happened outside of ten years. It happened in our eleventh – this year. Now, this certainly could’ve been included in our Ten Favorite Comments feature too but, well, rules are rules. Or, were rules, because after a bit of coaxing, I’m sharing it because it is so damn great (plus, who knows if we’ll make it to 20 years to revisit this?). Timothy was invited to speak on Wisconsin Public Radio’s Larry Meiller Show and ya know, with call-in shows, you never know what you’ll get asked. I don’t think Timothy was expecting this specific question but boy was it enjoyable. Scroll to 28:50 of the show recording to understand what I’m talking about. Again, thank you Mary from Spring Green – both me and my wife loved your question!