Nature & Travels Blog

The River Journal Begins

For my 50th birthday my neighbor, Ian, and I pooled our money and purchased a 17 foot Old Town Canoe. We brought the canoe home on the night of the Lunar Eclipse, May 15, 2003 and so we named her “Luna.” Then I made a wild commitment: In honor of my 50 birthdays I have decided to navigate 50 streams or

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#35 Farmington River, Farmington, Connecticut

Canoe with signOn May 4, 2014, I flew from Minneapolis to Hartford, Connecticut, for a week of school author visits in Newington. The teachers selected a hotel for me that turned out to be steps from the Farmington River. On my arrival day I swooned from the bridge so I immediately looked up the nearest outfitter to see if I could get ON this lovely stretch of water. Turned out, an outfitter was only a short drive up river.

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#33 – 34 Range River & Dead River, Boundary Waters Canoe Area, Minnesota

33_13-Beaver-dam-aheadJoseph Goldes began his lesson on how to pack for a Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) paddling trip with a map and pack purchase stop at Midwest Mountaineering, a fabulous outdoor adventure store in Minneapolis. Joseph (whom I have known since he was only hours old) has led numerous trips into the BWCA through Camp Wijiwagen, including a 41 day trip through the Arctic (with no resupplying!).

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#32 Brule River, Lake Superior, Elbow Lake, Grand Marais, Minnesota

32_07_lgAfter the exhaustion of the Minnesota State Fair Alphabet Forest project — twelve days, twelve hours at day,the huge clean up, and storage trips — I was ready for a break. My good friend, author and illustrator Lauren Stringer, rented me her small cabin in the heart of Grand Marais, MN, perched on the edge of Lake Superior, just south of Canada.

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#31 Rock Springs Creek, Florida

January 23, 2008 — All fall I had been working on an article for Hallmark magazine about my 50 Years/50 Rivers project. I had been through several edits, the manuscript was ready for print and by January it was time to meet the magazine photo team at a river. There is, of course, no free flowing canoeing water in Minnesota

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#30 Hay River, Prairie, WI

August 31, 2008 — After searching the maps and river guide books for a new river within a days drive of Minneapolis we settled on the Hay River, planning to put in just south of Prairie Farm, in north central Wisconsin. We could camp within an hour of the river on a friend’s farm so we headed off, tents and

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#29 Brandywine River Chadd’s Ford, PA

April 27, 2008 — Due to a fortuitous meeting in Florida months ago, and an ensuing unlikely wild plan, I found myself invited to join a three canoe Kerr family rendezvous on the Brandywine River, thanks to Randy, organizer extraordinaire. After speaking at Nottingham Elementary, Oxford, PA, winner of my national drawing for a free Author Visit (and my hat is

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#28 Bayou Long, end of Belle River, Louisiana

Nov 30 & Dec 1, 2007 — School visits in Louisiana led me to a small cabin on Bayou Long, the tail end of Belle River’s water flow in Stephensville, just outside Morgan City, 90 miles west of New Orleans. The sweet-voiced cabin owner, Anthony, had said in the dead of night when I arrived, “Don’t worry about the alligators, it’s

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#27 Blue Earth River, Minnesota

October 25, 2007 — The Minnesota Library Convention took me to Mankato, MN, south of the Twin Cities by about an hour. Despite being late in the year I had hopes we could find a river and some good weather so at the last minute I tied the canoe on the car, added Paddling Minnesota Rivers to my suitcase and

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#26 Yellow River — Northeast Iowa

Oct 4, 2007 — The summer of 2007 brought a very busy studio filled with deadlines, a little bad luck and a lot of very bad weather in Minnesota with intense flooding in the south, drought in the north. Our rivers are loose for only half the year and all those things must be in alignment or before you know

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#25 Upper Iowa River

    October 5, 2006 — The Upper Iowa River marks the halfway point in my 50th Birthday / 50 Rivers Project. This is a vow I just “made up,” but now, three and a half years later, I realize I could not have invented a project that could offer a more transformative effect on my life! I have loved every inch of water, every

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