Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Trip map

It looks like Blogger.com doesn't allow .pdf uploads so the itinerary I posted didn't show on the blog. I've scanned a map of the highlighted trip route to a .jpeg file and am posting it.  A number of people commented they didn't understand how I was getting from Illinois to Alabama via a water route. As you can see from the map, the entire watershed of the eastern U.S. is interconnected via canals and natural rivers.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Itinerary Finalized

I've put the finishing touches on my itinerary. It's pretty aggressive and I hope the mileage is attainable. Basically, I have to paddle at a four mile an hour pace with 10 hours of seat time a day. If I hit the water by 8:00 a.m. every day I'll be able to stop and set up camp and make dinner at 6:00 p.m. There are plenty of stretches of river where the flow will allow me to achieve at least four miles an hour with little trouble. I hope to get ahead of schedule for when the water slows down and I'm doing more strenuous paddling.

It looks like two weeks on the Missouri River down to St. Louis and then another month traversing the Mississippi River to the Ohio and Tennessee/Tombigbee Rivers. Once I exit the Mobile Bay in Alabama I'll be heading to Florida via the IntraCoastal Waterway. Lots of paddling and it should be fun meeting interesting people along the way.

The water flow is currently up on the Missouri below Nebraska City. It should drop by the time I leave in three weeks. Yahoo!

I've posted the itinerary as .pdf file. I'm not sure if Blogger.com will display it.

[Post script note: I converted the .pdf to .jpeg format.  The itinerary should now be visible above the blog text.]

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Grocery shopping for trip is done!

A shopping cart full of food later and I've got food for at least six weeks on the river. It's a pretty big pile but I guess it will get lighter as I eat up my rations.
I'm including a picture of my food drier in the process of drying down some bananas and refried beans. A few more days of using the food drier and the menu preparation will be done. Yum, yum!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A photo of my madness

I figured out how to update my blog via email using Mail2Blogger so I thought I'd give it a try by sending a photo of the gear I've packed for the trip. The two big barrels are for food. It would be great if they fit in the canoe together but I have a feeling I'll be repacking in dry bags.

Maybe I should be taking a speedboat for this trip instead of a canoe!



Friday, April 15, 2011

Only 30 days until departure!

I'm sitting here watching "Hot Tub Time Machine" on NetFlix and having a hard time believing that only a month from today and I'll be heading out on the big trip. I've been hard at work planning and organizing for the big event but I've been pretty lax getting in blogging about it. I did take time to set up a website and get this blog running, I just havent' taken the time to test the system or post updates.

Since the time is getting so short I figured I should see if my internet connection plans will pan out. I'm typing this on my iPad with a wireless keyboard. I took a photo of the equipment barrels that have my food and camping equipment that I've assembled to date. Hopefully, the photo and this post will upload withouth any problems. Otherwise I'm not sure I'll have time to rethink my strategy for keeping others posted about the progress I'm making.

As far as equipment goes the canoe is ready to be picked up next weekend. I had hoped for more lead time to test out my packing and equipment list but there won't be much I can do before I leave. I drive to Illinois to meet Scott Smith from Sawyer Superior Canoes next weekend to get the boat. Then I'll work on packing and uppacking it a few times to make sure everything fits. He claims the boat will hold a pickup truck bed's worth of equipment but I will belieive that when I see it.

I have all my equipment assembled except my boat and paddles. This weekend I will go grocery shopping and pack the last of my food. I decided to go with the NOLS cookbook and cook as much food as I can while on the river. I assembled a menu and food list for 6 weeks on the water followed by about 2 weeks of freeze dried dinners. If all the food fits I can focus on my daily paddle routine and not the whole going into town to buy food thing.

The last thing to say is that I've decided to put in on the Missouri River in Nebraska City. That will get me heading down river faster than my original plan to start in Lincoln on Salt Creek.

Oh well, I hope this works. When I post the update it should also post a status update on my Facebook page. I also have a SPOT emergency locater that will update my daily location.

Let's hope technology is my friend.

Back to packing...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Final Equipment List

I think I’ve finally nailed down what will be required for a trip this long.  The list can be found on my Equipment page.  It includes every thing but the kitchen sink!  I expect I’ll do some minor revisions of the list, especially after a few shakedown trips later this year and in early 2011.  Now it’s time to start inventorying what I already own and make a list of items to purchase.
I’m heading to Michigan next week to visit my family during my spring break.  I’ve spoken with Scott at Superior Sawyer Canoes about swinging by his shop to get a look at and take a test paddle in a Superior Expedition.  I have a few questions about how to customize the boat’s storage areas, etc. so it should be a good visit.  Photos will be posted on the next blog entry!

Expanding the Equipment List

It has been over a month since my last blog post and not much to report on the planning end of life.  I’ve been grappling with the departure date for the trip.  My original plan was to leave in May 2011 and paddle through the summer.  That might still happen but the depth of commitment to teaching in a liberal arts university has me rethinking the idea of a summer canoe trip followed by research on the NWU campus in the fall.
Quite frankly, my time is maximized by meeting with students, committee and faculty meetings, teaching classes, writing letters of recommendation, and the daily life of a university.  I’m afraid that if I do my sabbatical on campus during a normal semester I won’t get much accomplished in my research program because of all the distractions.  Thus, I’m toying with the idea of research all summer and then heading out on my big trip in September 2011.  The positive of that plan is that I’d have much cooler weather for the trip.  The downside is family obligations that I’d be abandoning during the school year.  Oh well, I’ll worry about it later.  As long as my but is in a canoe and heading downstream I’m OK.
As far as equipment, I’m realizing that I have lots to worry about.  I know I need a high end boat to handle this trip.  That decision is made and I’ll put the order in around the beginning of May.  But I need a way to transport it (my new truck) which means purchasing a canoe rack and anchorage system for the truck.  I also need to start thinking about dry bags and my navigation system.  So, I guess I’ll add a few items to my equipment list.  I’m hoping that I can make purchases each month as I’m growing the list.
Here’s my current equipment list
Canoe deck cover
Canoe paddles)
Chevy Colorado receiver hitch
Hitch mount (rear) canoe carrier
Rooftop luggage towers
Yakima Q Clips
Oregon 400i GPS unit
Handheld VHF marine radio
SPOT II Satellite GPS Messenger
Compass (boater's)
Solar powered charge system
Maps of entire route

Summary of early trip planning

Starting around Halloween of last year (2009) I began to research making a long distance trip by canoe. Since I live in a part of the country (Liincoln, NE) with few rivers to choose from I’m kinda forced to go with the few choices that are available. That basically means the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. Thus, my initial plans were to float the Missouri River to St. Louis, MO, and then continue on south on the MIssissippi River to New Orleans, LA. I would then backtrack from the MIssissippi Delta to the Gulf Coast and follow it to my sister’s house in the panhandle of Florida.
As I looked at the maps of the continental U.S. it became clear that the most challenging part of the trip would be the open ocean travel I would be forced to make on the Gulf of Mexico.  Thus, I set about researching canoe designs and trying to read as much as possible about which boat to choose for the trip.  My Christmas gifts for 2009 were copies of Cliff Jacobson’s Expedition Canoeing and Phil Peterson’s All Things are Possible, the biography of Verlen Kruger.
Reading the chapter (“The Wild-River Canoe”) on canoe design in Jacobson’s book really got me thinking.  I’ve always wanted a closed decked boat but would it serve my needs?  In other words, was the cost of going with that canoe design justified?  I figured I might as well ask the man who wrote the book so I sent Cliff Jacobson an email.  He kindly replied to my inquiry stating in part “As I see it, you have a problem because you want one canoe to do it all. Your gut feeling that you need a decked canoe for the ocean is right-on...”  He went on to make some really good recommendations but the gist is that the open ocean travel part of the trip creates some issues in regards to how I’ll travel and what difficulties I’ll face.
As I finished reading the biography of Verlen Kruger by Phil Peterson one thing became clear, the Mississippi River below Nashville, TN, is too crowded with barge traffic for small boats, especially canoes. The point that really drove this home was Peterson’s summary (page 240) of the Mississippi River Challenge (2003) that broke the Guinness World Record for the fastest traverse of the Mississippi River from source to terminus (2,348 miles in 18 days, 4, hours, 51 minutes)...”In section between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, heavy barge traffic encountered. Clark [Eid] hates this section and thinks no small craft should ever be permitted there. The barges are getting nasty, winds are high, waves are rough.” When I read that passage I immediately started looking for an alternate way to reach Florida. Thus, I’ve cobbled together what I’m calling “The Route”. The alternate route I’ve chosen will put me more in contact with nature versus the industrialized canal that the Mississippi River has become and will actually shave a few miles off my final mileage.
The last big item I’ve needed to address is what boat I’ll use for the trip. I’ve never purchased a canoe preferring to use whatever was available when paddling a river. Since this is my first canoe and probably biggest purchase I’ll make I decided to go with the decked canoe I’ve been dreaming about for years. In that category there are only a few commercial choices available: Bell Canoe Works Rob Roy, Clipper Canoes Sea-1, Kruger Canoes Sea Wind, and the Superior Sawyer Superior Expedition.  I’ve decided to go with the Superior Expedition with the reasons being it is closely modeled after the Kruger Sea Wind (but costing much less), is built in my home state of Michigan, has the features I’m looking for in a closed deck canoe, and will allow me to more easily handle the upstream paddle on the Ohio River (a very big plus!).  I plan on placing my order later this spring for delivery at the end of the summer 2010.
So, that’s where the trip plans stand thus far. I need to work a bit more on navigation charts and purchase a few books about the proposed route. I also need to work up an equipment list and a timeline for trip preparations. I’ll post another entry of my blog in a few days/weeks when I’ve got more to report.