Sunday, May 8, 2011

With the spray cover installed.

My first attempt at packing the canoe.

750 miles by truck to pickup my canoe!

Scott Smith, the builder of my canoe

Saturday was a long day. I drove to Iowa to the Illinois border to meet Scott Smith from Superior Canoes to take delivery of my closed deck canoe. He kindly drove half-way from Michigan so I didn't have to make a 23 hour round trip to get the boat. As it was I didn't get back to Lincoln until after 1:00 a.m. It was worth the trip, though, as the boat is a beauty, exactly the canoe I've been dreaming about owning for over 30 years.

This morning I tinkered with packing her and it rapidly became apparent that I needed to rethink and rearrange my bags. I have three large food bags holding eight weeks of food, enough to make it to Florida. Thus, food is 3/4 of my starting load. It all fits in the boat but there's little room to spare!

I did get a chance to sneak over to Holmes Lake this afternoon between Mother's Day activities. The boat paddles like a dream, even heading into the strong wind gusts (it felt like the wind was blowing 30 miles an hour today!) I had little trouble. The rudder system is quickly mastered and I was able to make good time when paddling into the whitecaps.

I didn't load the boat with all my gear today. Too windy for a loaded maiden voyage. I'll do that later in the week so I get a feel for how she rides.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Trip map

It looks like 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 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