Hey there, thank you for coming and checking out the site for our 2014 Tales of the Trail expedition. There are many questions about what this journey is all about, and it will take us a lot more than a simple about page to show you. Over the course of the next year and a half we will be doing our best to explain and demonstrate the often overlooked importance of stories in our lives. This expedition we are going on is somewhat of a journey into the human spirit. As this experience will not take us far from home, it will bring us closer to the people and the places of northern Minnesota. We are to be travelers, in search of stories from people of all walks of life that want their story to be told, not for recognition, but for the chance that it may be heard.

          I would like to share one such story with you, the first of many. This one is about a boy, who grew up without guidance, and without a sense of belonging. You see, all this boy ever wanted in life was to be, and feel, loved. Even though he didn’t even know what it was until he was nearly an adult. Up until the day he discovered what love was it was merely this cold empty feeling in his gut that made him feel that something was missing in his life. As this boy grew up, he learned to read, and through his imagination went on countless journeys that took him out of his broken home and into worlds where his life was full of zest, passion, and adventure. He went around the world in 80 days, survived alone for months in the Canadian wilderness, sailed a pirate ship in the Caspian Seas, fought the devil in hell sealing him in his fiery tomb, and defied the evil forces of society that claimed his homeland, and his people, forcing him to walk the earth alone as a result of the shame his people placed on him for caring about someone other than himself, which inevitably brought him to a new family of friends and the woman of his dreams.

             Over the years this boy sought comfort in the stories he read. Then as he became a teenager he stopped reading. He became a character in his own story. One of pain, loneliness, misunderstanding, poverty, drugs, deceit, and fraught with hardships that were difficult to endure. After years of living as if he were already dead, he found himself with a difficult decision. To continue to be the monster he had become, or to take accountability and try to find the little boy within himself that had once found a way to a better life, through stories. He chose the latter, but his luck did not change with him. Soon after he began to try and change his life he found himself sitting alone in the woods, head in his hands wondering how he could have gotten himself into such a mess. Things were getting good for once in his life, but it was short-lived.  Anything positive in his life ceased to be when his ex called and told him that she was pregnant. Scared, he set out to prevent this from happening and successfully encouraged the pregnancies early termination. The guilt lived with him over the next half century, that was spent in its entirety, in the bottom of a bottle.

            Then  as a young man, tired of his shame, he had an idea for which to stop the pain he held deep inside. Promising to give up on love, his only desire in life,  and vow to live a life great enough for two, for him and his unborn child whose life he felt he prematurely took. He began to change, and after time found that little boy once again. Then he begin to hear stories of other people’s lives, and found a solace in them greater than anything he ever knew. Using these stories, along with the experiences in his own life, he grew into man who was wise beyond his years. Realizing the importance of a persons story,he began to use them to inspire, motivate, comfort, transform, and to humble even the most ignorant of fools. To this day, that boy, is somewhere telling a story to someone, in hopes that it will touch them in a place that exists within every one of us. That place is in our hearts.

            The journey we are embarking on is to embrace the story of that little boy, to find people with a story to tell, to listen, and in return to share those stories with others, in hopes that even just one of them will make a difference in the life of someone who needs it. We live our dreams in our hearts, through stories that we play out in our minds. This expedition is a means by which we hope to instill a little bit of everyone’s hearts, within one another’s, to spread empathy and compassion, and to help make that boys goal, of living a life great enough for two, to come true.


  1. Ricky Enjoy the journey with my son John. I am very proud of John and he speaks highly of you. May God be your guide. Mary Plettner

    • Thank you Mrs. Plettner. This may be one of the biggest journeys of our lives, and I can’t think of anybody better than your son John to be sharing it with. You have a lot to be proud of, and your blessings are greatly appreciated.

  2. Hey Ricky!! I’m looking forward to following you on your journey. You sure showed 2 girls from Wisconsin what Northern hospitality is when you were our tow across Burntside. It made my and Vicki’s adventure truly memorable. My favorite Ricky story: you lifted both of our huge packs, one on each shoulder. I just about fell over. :) You’re an amazing person and I’m happy our paths crossed! Best of luck to you, and can’t wait for the stories!

    • Mel, i am ecstatic that you will be following us on our journey, and truly hope that you and Vicki will bless us with your presence as we pass through a section of the Boundary Waters next summer. Giving the two of you girls a tow this summer was truly an honor, and definitely the favorite part of my summer. I’m glad you didn’t fall over cause it would have been hard to catch you with two big packs on my shoulders.I hope the rest of your summer is going well, and i look forwarding to hearing from you again soon. Thank you for your support, it means the world to us.

  3. Stories are formed and transform our lives. Storytelling could be considered a work of art. This is something aesthetically upheld in our own minds, regardless of outside opinion. It can transform into an unspoken bond with those who share and understand that art. Stories can be manifested however lived in the eye of the beholder. A simple collaboration of words, such as this poem can be transfixed to represent a story. Stories expand well beyond oral form, and can be re-told and re-lived throughout the age of time. Put yourself into this poem, maybe your story exists within my own?


    -Gazed upon by the wanderers eye

    -To tell a story, but to never lie

    -The brightness shone into ones eye

    -Reflected back into the night sky

    -Stars gazed upon by the wanderers eye

    -Stars gazed upon until the day I die

  4. This is truly inspiring! I love your message about story telling and the idea of expedition being fuel for charity! I wish you both the best of luck; I can’t wait to read some stories! :)

  5. Jim & Lori Ericson, Minneapolis MN

    Hi Ricky & John,
    We met you at the Gunflint Lodge, where you were seeking shelter from the rough waves for a few days. We were on our honeymoon, and you shared stories of the wonderful people you’ve met along your journey. Our thoughts and prayers are with you as you complete your voyage. Stay safe.

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