Stickers, Business Cards, and….T-Shirts?

I am getting ready to order some more stickers.  They seems to be quite popular.  I should be selling them, but I just love to give them away.  Maybe I’ll become more disciplined with the second round.  But, who can resist when you see pictures like this???

Sticker-3AwesomeGuys

These handsome guys are stealing the thunder from my good looking stickers, don’t you think?  L-R, Dave Cornthwaite, Rod Wellington, and Dale Sanders.  If you have a few minutes (hours) and a cup of coffee (several), kick back and watch these three in the bike car adventures.  Sure-fire entertainment, no joke.  Here is the link to Dave Cornthwaite’s Bikecar Expedition 2012: The Highlights 

Good fun, guaranteed!

I also had fun designing business cards.  I have 250 on order from freelogodesigns.  Check them out, they’re friendly folks.  Here is my first round business card design (address removed for web posting):

card edited for web
Hard to see it here, but I like the way the mountains are brown with the blue river flowing out.  I think the ‘one woman’ line is brown and then the web address is blue.  If I only had a map of the route on the back.  I may add that with an address label.  We’ll see if it works.

I would love to have t-shirts.  Maybe I can mock something up for next post.

Lots to do.

Well, here is the result of my playing around:

t-shirt_draft2Thought, comments, suggestions?  Still need something for the front.  Or, should this go on front?  Hmmmm.

Filming the Promo Video

PromoVideoShoot

It was with great pleasure and gratitude that I spent yesterday morning at the river with my daughter, Haley Moreland, Jim Karpowicz, and Tom Newcomb.  Jim and Tom volunteered their time, expertise, and film equipment to shoot a promotional video for the expedition.  Haley agreed to interview for the clip, and she helped by photographing the occasion.  The purpose for the video is to utilize one of the online fundraising programs, such as Kickstarter or GoFundMe, with the video.  Ideally, the donations generated will help pay for the trip and, ultimately, get a book started.  Getting the trip accomplished will be the first step in getting a book started.

TomandJim

HaleybytheFire

Jim and Tom are long-time colleagues creating films for the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), among other things.  They have recently been assigned a project with the MDC focused on Missouri mountain lions.  I know, right?! Mountain lions!  Good luck, guys.  Be careful out there.

Tom is a cameraman for CBS in STL, Jim has done work for The Documentary Group, and you can find other projects by going to Tom’s website at www.blacktruckpictures.com.  Among a host of other undertakings by them, you can find a fascinating video about Lewis and Clark from the website here.

lewis_clark

Although the morning was quite cold and crisp, I enjoyed getting in the kayak and paddling around a bit for the shoot.  And, the guys setting up the interviewing studio at the end of a wing dike was particularly intriguing, if not a little intimidating (they ran an extension cord all the way out there!).  We built a nice fire in Cooper’s bonfire ring, so the warmth from the fire made the experience quite comfortable and especially pleasant.  Although, that could be a result of the warm-hearted individuals present.  (That includes you, J.W., thanks for building the fire!)

wingdikeSetUp

mangoandsternwheeler

SnagPaddle

IMG_1848

Interviewing on film is not one of my strengths.  Jim and Tom will need to work their magic.  They assured me not to worry.  Really, I am just humbled by the experience, and extremely grateful for our Missouri River community and the support I am receiving for the expedition.  Not to mention the support I am receiving from my friends, some old, some new, some near and some far!  I may have to post a happy dance similar to Rod Wellington’s portage dances  :).

I love this quote from Lewis and Clark’s journals, as highlighted in Tom’s Lewis and Clark video.  Over and over again, despite the circumstances, they continued to write:  “We proceeded on.” I’m going to remember that one.

Dec11-2013_promoshoot

Thanks again Haley, Jim and Tom!  That was fun.

TheTeam

A source start means a snow start, but ice-covered lakes?

ViewFromSouthValleyRoadSnow_112142
View of Lower Red Rock Lake in February. The lake is frozen over and looks like one large flat meadow.

Based on my camping experience in Missouri, I know that the threat of cold weather is present in mid-Missouri until AT LEAST after Mother’s Day, which is usually end of May (last hard frost date is late April).  So, starting my trip in mid-April in the Montana Centennial Mountains at the Continental Divide pretty much necessitates winter conditions planning. Okay,  got that.  However, I did not really consider the Centennial Valley being covered with snow down to the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge.

I received an email response from Bill Smith, project leader at the Wildlife Refuge, which is located down the Centennial Valley from where I’ll exit the mountains after skiing to Brower’s Spring.    He writes:  The refuge is not closed in April, it is just closed to boating.   In addition, the two big wetland lakes (Upper and Lower Red Rock Lakes) are still frozen until about May 1st.    I suggest you snowshoe to Brower Spring from the Centennial Valley floor.   Then you could cross country ski down the valley if there is still snow available.   No refuge restrictions on ski travel.

(Norm Miller and I are planning to ski in to Brower’s Spring from Sawtelle Peak, a two-mile ski to the spring, and seven miles down to the valley floor.)

Nemesis Mountain
Nemesis Mountain The exit from Brower’s Spring, Hell Roaring Canyon, is on the right side of Nemesis Mt. (out of this photo) where Hell Roaring Creek empties into the valley, and soon becomes Red Rock Creek.
Hell Roaring Canyon and Creek, exiting the mountains. (Nemesis Mt. to the left of canyon.)
Hell Roaring Canyon and Creek, exiting the mountains. (Nemesis Mt. on the left)
Winter view of the Centennials here. Wind blows frequently to obscure the road completely with snow in February.
Winter view of the Centennials here. Wind blows frequently to obscure the road completely with snow in February.

SO, the good news is:  The refuge is not closed to paddlers in April, only motorized boats.  Yay!

And, the not necessarily bad news:  The entire valley MAY be covered in snow and the lakes covered with ice until May 1st.   Dang, this is starting to become quite the adventure.  And, I like it!

Centennial Mountains cloaked in a snow storm.  (All of these photos taken from the virtual tour site-link is below)
Centennial Mountains cloaked in a winter storm. (All of these photos taken from the virtual tour site-link below)

Bill sent me some valuable links that are critical to my planning of this upper upper portion of the expedition.  Here is what he wrote:

I’ve attached two web sites.   The Lakeview Ridge Snowtel site will allow you to look at graphs and charts of average snow depth during the annual cycle here.   Look at historical April.   It will also give you the current year.

http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/nwcc/site?sitenum=568&state=mt

The 2nd link is to the water gauge on Red Rock Creek.   It will give you historical and real time measurements of stream flow in the creek.   The gauge is on the Creek at the very Eastern boundary of the refuge.

NRCS is upgrading this website this weekend so it may not work well until Monday.

http://waterdata.usgs.gov/mt/nwis/uv?site_no=06006000

I assume you have the refuge website.   Here is a link to a virtual tour of the Centennial Valley.

http://www.fws.gov/redrocks/virtualtour/

Virtual tour!!?  How awesome is that!  I hit every spot on the tour, and let me just say this, “It IS the next best thing to being there!”  When you click on the link, the map on the left has a white dotted line sweeping along the bottom and then up towards Henry Lake.  That dotted line is the Continental Divide, and Brower’s Spring is inside the lower right-hand u-turn area where the white line starts to head north.  On the right side of the page, the names of the mountains will show up when you scroll over them.  You can sweep 360 degrees!  Enjoy!  It is a fantastic site.  Big huge thanks to Bill West and his willingness to help me out.  We will talk by phone soon.

All photos on this post are taken from the virtual tour site.

That’s all I got for now.  Lots to think about.

The willows growing from Tom Creek provide browsing for Moose in the deep of winter here. In summer, moose are attracted to marshes and creek banks to both collect suitable vegetation to eat and water to wet and cool themselves in. Moose are not usually aggressive towards humans, but can be provoked or frightened to behave with aggression. Due to their disposition and size, it's best to keep a wide berth from them.
The willows growing from Tom Creek provide browsing for Moose in the deep of winter here. In summer, moose are attracted to marshes and creek banks to both collect suitable vegetation to eat and water to wet and cool themselves in. Moose are not usually aggressive towards humans, but can be provoked or frightened to behave with aggression. Due to their disposition and size, it’s best to keep a wide berth from them.
Pronghorn and calf
Pronghorn and calf
The beautiful Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana) has found a bug in the grasses near Red Rock Creek. The tanager is classified in the same family as the cardinal. Western tanagers eat fruits (~18%) and a wide range of insects (~82%) They are a welcome visitor in the spring and early summer here in the refuge, though not especially numerous (like the blackbirds or sparrows, etc).
The beautiful Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana) has found a bug in the grasses near Red Rock Creek. The tanager is classified in the same family as the cardinal. Western tanagers eat fruits (~18%) and a wide range of insects (~82%) They are a welcome visitor in the spring and early summer here in the refuge, though not especially numerous (like the blackbirds or sparrows, etc).

Follow up re: Brower’s Spring, stickers, promo video

…Woke up midnight last night and imagined Brower’s Spring with perfect spring corn snow skiing conditions in April, which is when we used to ski peaks on the east side of the Sierra Nevada Mts in the 80’s.  I broke out into a huge smile.  Then, repeating over and over, “pray, believe…pray, believe…”, I drifted back to sleep.

I will be starting at the source.  That’s it.  No more wavering.

HiketoBrowers3D

My stickers are in the mail.  I modified them by changing the color to blue, from black, and the miles to 2600, from 2300.

BlueSticker_REV

Met with Jim Karpowicz today and we are on the move to create a promo video in order to generate some wide-reaching support and, hopefully, funding. It’s going to be great!

If you haven’t already, please “like” my loveyourbigmuddy Facebook page.  I can post little updates there with a bit more spontaneity.

Happy New Year!

Live fast ~ Paddle slow

Canadian Paddler Rod Wellington & a MO Riv Source Start

Rod-photo_Coops_12-18-2012
Photo by Rod Wellington

Canadian paddler Rod Wellington passed through Cooper’s Landing last Monday and Tuesday, Dec 17-18.  He is paddling from the source of the Missouri River at Brower’s Spring, MT, to the Gulf of Mexico, all self-propelled.  This is the longest river system in North America, and fourth longest in the world.  Rod will be the first Canadian to paddle the MO from source to sea.  Australian paddler Mark Kalch completed the route earlier this year.

Norm Miller (left) and Mark Kalch (right) at Hell Roaring Creek in June 2012
Norm Miller (left) and Mark Kalch (right) at Hell Roaring Creek in June 2012

Altogether, Rod will paddle seven of the longest rivers on seven different continents.  The Missouri River is his first.  He has been on the river since June, a total of six months.  His river systems project could take up to 15 years.

Photo by Rod Wellington
Photo by Rod Wellington

After a pot luck dinner and visiting with many interested locals, he graciously sat with me and poured over photos and a map from the Brower’s Spring area, the Missouri River source, to Three Forks, the headwaters of the MO Riv, a 298 miles stretch and one in which I am debating whether to include on my trip.

MAP_Browers-ThreeForks-USA

MAP_Browers-ThreeForks_flip

Browers-August
Cairn at Brower’s Spring with Continental Divide behind. Photo taken in August 2011 while scouting the source (photo by Rod Wellington)
Continental Divide at Brower's Spring in June 2012-by Rod Wellington
Continental Divide at Brower’s Spring in June 2012 (photo by Rod Wellington)
Looking down from the spring in June 2012.  Undoubtedly, April will have a LOT more snow. -by Rod Wellington
Looking down from the spring in June 2012. Undoubtedly, April will have a LOT more snow. (photo by Rod Wellington)

No firm decisions yet as there are a few dicey stretches, like hiking/skiing/snowshoeing over snow for seven miles into Brower’s Spring, and seven miles out.  And, a few days of dodging and portaging around farmers’ barbed wire/electrical/corrugated panel fences which cross a mere 20′ wide water way below the Lima Reservoir on the Red Rock River.  Not to mention that the Red Rock Lakes Wildlife Refuge, located above the Lima Reservoir, is closed in April.

At least now I have a greater understanding of what my obstacles and options are.  I have an unrelenting desire to capture some of that 298-mile stretch for its sheer beauty.  Some of it may have to be biked.  Thanks, Rod, for spending that time with me.

Jefferson River below Twin Bridges
Jefferson River below Twin Bridges (photo by Norm Miller)
Deer on Jefferson River (photo by Norm Miller)
Deer on Jefferson River (photo by Norm Miller)
Rain approaching Jefferson River (photo by Norm Miller)
Rain approaching Jefferson River (photo by Norm Miller)

Understandably, Rod needed to leave Cooper’s Landing and continue

Rod and Jonathan at Cooper's Landing.
Rod and Jonathan at Cooper’s Landing. Notice the wood-carved hawk that is Jonathan’s handiwork.

paddling towards the Gulf of Mexico.  However, our first major storm

of the season hit yesterday, the day after he left.  Winds gusted to 50 or 60 mph, and snow was blizzard-like.  One caring and supportive local, Jonathan Lauten, set out to find Rod and make sure he was okay.  He found him across the river below Jefferson City, but was not able to make contact.  We learned that Rod was hunkered down in his tent, warm and dry.

Rod laying low in a miserably cold, windy, and snowy storm. -by Jonathan Lauten
Rod laying low in a miserably cold, very windy, and snowy storm (you can see the wind plowing into the side of his tent). (photo by Jonathan Lauten)

Jonathan’s comment from Facebook:

I found him, but I couldn’t get to him!
This pic was taken from a bluff across the river 4:00 12/20/12.
Of course, it was hard to pick him out amongst all those other campers on the Missouri River in a blizzard with 50 mph winds…

Here is a post from Rod yesterday morning, much to our relief:

Dec. 20, 10am – Currently hunkered down in my tent on a sandbar near Jefferson City, Missouri. Outside: blowing snow, sustained winds of 35-40 mph with gusts of 50 mph or more. Unable to keep tent and tent fly anchored. I’ve arranged heaviest gear on windy side of tent to act as a buffer. I’m warm and dry. No paddling today. Expected low tonight: 5F with windchill. Thanks to Steve Schnarr, Gary Leabman, Robin Kalthoff and Jessica Giard for checking on me via phone. Still smiling!

Great meeting Rod and spending some time together.  I think I speak for lots of other folks who met him as well.

Rod and me -photo by Jonathan Lauten
Rod and me (photo by Jonathan Lauten)

You can read posts and watch videos from his trip thus far, and track his current progress on his FB page: “Rod Wellington.”

Happy paddling!

SPOT Rocks

I applied to be a SPOT ambassador some time ago and received a response yesterday, December 19.  They have offered a pretty sweet deal, I think.

First company sponsorship (thanks SPOT)

Thank you, Liana, for not blowing me off.  You are my first “big company” sponsorship (if a promo deal can be considered a sponsorship).  I look forward to carrying your product on board.

Here is the message I received.  Just need to fill out the paperwork.   YES!

Hello Janet –

 Thank you for completing the SPOT Brand Ambassador Form.  We have thoroughly reviewed your request and responded to you as promptly as possible.  We feel you are offering a unique opportunity to showcase SPOT. Therefore, we are offering you an exclusive SPOT offer. Attached please find a form which will allow you to purchase a SPOT, plus one year of basic service and tracking for $99 (typically a $250 value).

 Once your form is completed, you will need to send it to Tom Babb via fax at 985.335.1790 or email to Thomas.Babb@FindMeSPOT.com.

 Liana Narcisse

Marketing Coordinator

Globalstar

A Name for my Ride

My daughter, Haley Rose, came with me to St. Louis yesterday to pick up my Shasta kayak that I bought from Australian Bob Wellington in September.  Bob paddled from Three Forks, Montana, to St. Louis last summer in 89 days.  Following the principle of “reuse,” I bought his boat and gear as he had no desire to ship it all back to Australia.  It was a win-win deal (right, Bob? :)).

BobSittinginBoat
Cool guy in a cool boat at a cool spot

Michael Clark of Big Muddy Adventures was nice enough to store the boat for me over the fall semester while I finished my degree.  After some great conversation about interactive teaching from the river, which is what Michael does with Skype, writing curriculum, and redirecting at-risk youth towards the River, among other cool things, we threw all the gear in the back of the van and tied the Barbara May on to the top.  Haley snapped a photo of me and Michael and the Barbara May.

Michael-me-boat

We stopped and visited with my niece, Rene Freels, and her funny husband, Kyle, and son, Sam, and had a wonderful lunch and good time laughing and talking about the expedition.  We talked about the Kickstarter program (Rene was the first to suggest Kickstarter to me), making T-shirts, social media, sponsorship, donation gift ideas like stickers, signed photos, bumper stickers, boat rides, etc. etc.   Promoting myself does not come naturally.  I welcome any suggestions.  Oh, and we talked about bears.

Although I like the name Barbara May, and I am confident that Bob’s wife is a very sweet woman, I HAVE to rechristen the boat with a new name.  Yes, some people say a boat’s name should bear some special significance to the owner.  Frankly, I have not found warm and fuzzy in a name yet.  “Easy Rider” is my race name in the Race to the Dome paddling race.  I like that name, but mostly for the theme song that goes with it.  You remember the Ballad of Easy Rider by the Byrds, right?  Give a listen:

Haley and I tossed around some names on the ride home from STL but came up virtually empty-handed.  Here are the names we have thus far:  Easy Rider, Rio Oso (river bear, my dog’s name), and Blue Moon.  I’d like to have Pepper in the name somewhere, but can’t get anything to flow.

Pepper on lower tier.  Sugar Lily above.
Pepper on lower tier. Sugar Lily above.

Pepper was my cat, also my very best friend, who went missing on the 4th of July, 2011, one week after moving into my new home.  Still not over it.

So, I am looking for suggestions as to what to name my boat.  Please comment on my blog, or go to my Facebook Page:  LoveYourBigMuddy Expedition, “like” the page, if you have not already, and throw out some suggestions for me.  You never know what might strike the harmonious chord.

Live fast ~ Paddle slow

Moving Right Along

So very much to do, but I am loving it.  Having time off this month to focus on planning and preparation is becoming more and more important.  My days are full.

Progress updates include the following:

My daughter, Haley, and I are going to pick up my Shasta kayak tomorrow, December 16.  The boat and all the gear that came with the deal (thanks again, Bob!) is being stored at Michael Clark’s Big Muddy Adventures headquarters in St. Louis.  Merry Christmas to me (payment day is so far removed in the past that they will seem like gifts :))!  Thanks again Michael for storing the boat for me.

Boat and GearJPG

Also, Haley confirmed with me yesterday that she will help with my shuttle.  She will accompany me to Montana, and hang out with me until I get started.  Then, drive my car back home.Xmas_2011_MoRiver

(The bandage on my hand was from last year this time.  I had carpal tunnel surgery on both my hands.  They are great now.)  We’ll definitely stay at Norm Miller’s Base Camp International in Livingston, MT, while I try and assess whether a source start is feasible. This road trip will be the first time we have been out of the state together, or on any type of significant trip, ever.  I cannot wait!

Rod Wellington, who will be paddling through Cooper’s Landing this Monday and Tuesday, will help me get a better idea of what the 300 mile stretch from Brower’s Spring to Three Forks is like.  He is encouraging me to start at the source: “Janet, I wholly encourage you to start at the source. The 298 river miles above Three Forks was my favourite part of the river. it cannot be topped. ”  I have wanted to start at the source since I decided to do this trip.  However, April will offer up additional challenges.

snow at browers

Brower’s Spring drainage heads off to the upper right of this photo (by Norm Miller).  This photo was taken in June.  I will have to start in mid-April.  Not sure if it will be possible, despite my ski-mountaineering background.  Hell Roaring Creek below heads downhill from the spring and, obviously, will not be a paddling stretch.  Seven miles hiking in and seven out.  Something to seriously consider.

HellRoaringCreek

I added a Pay Pal button on this blog (Make a Donation Page).  Financial support is not the only “support” I need, but it is an important one.  Haley and I met with Tina Casagrand yesterday to discuss Kickstarter, an online video fundraising program.  She shared a lot of valuable information with us in this regard.  I have asked Jim Karpowicz, friend, river rat, founder of Missouri River Relief, and creative documentary filmmaker, if he can help me produce a video.  He is willing to help so I hope to meet with him to discuss further.

I also met with the co-founder of Missouri River Relief, Charlotte Overby, who is now River Coordinator at Conservation Lands Foundation (CLF), and beloved by our entire river rat community.  CLF works with and supports groups and non-profits who advocate for wilderness lands managed by Bureau of Land Management (condensed explanation).  CLF supports Friends of the Missouri Breaks Monument.  We are floating ideas around.

UpperMoBreaks

I created a Facebook Page, LoveYourBigMuddy Expedition, so please “like” it.  Part of expedition planning is sponsorship proposals.  Companies like to see lots of exposure potential in their sponsorees.  Social media is a big component of the total experience.  Being as this is my first endeavor, it is likely sponsorship will be light, if not none.  But, one never knows for sure, right?  If you are reading this and have not yet “liked” my FB page, I implore you to do so.

Rod Wellington is due to arrive at Cooper’s Landing Monday and stay over a couple of nights.  He started at the source in June, and is paddling to the Gulf of Mexico.  He is paddling the seven longest rivers in seven continents, all self-powered.

Rod Wellington

We will take good care of Rod at Cooper’s, as we do all of the river folk paddling through.  He can stay for free, take a shower, do his laundry, drink beer, play games, eat a home-cooked meal, run into town, and watch wide-screen surround sound sports/TV/movies.  Monday night is game night at Cooper’s. Yes, like games:  SkipBo, Monopoly, Cribbage, darts, etc.   May be a bit of culture shock.  Although, he’ll be hanging out with river folk family.  We’ll warm him up before sending him back out on the river. Robin and Connie Kalthoff in Waverly set a high bar for taking care of paddlers.  They are about 3 or 4 days upriver, and one of the stops for paddlers on the way; a hard act to follow.  Here they are just yesterday, Friday.

Robin Kalthoff

Rod and I will be discussing the 300 miles between the source and Three Forks quite a bit.

You can visit his website at ZeroEmissionsExpedition

Zero Emissions Expeditions passionately promotes the practice of low impact, long distance, self-powered exploration.

Oh, one other thing happened last week.  I spoke with my Social Studies methods professor when he was writing up a teaching letter of recommendation for me.  I directed him to the MizzouWire story, which had just posted a couple days earlier.  Then I brought him to my blog site, and he loved all of it, especially the book, “Our Mississippi.”  He asked me to contact him after break and said he would help me with a book.  We’ll see.  I love it when things just fall into place.

Thanks for listening.  -Janet

Approaching a Major Confluence

meandwingdike

Often in life we start new chapters.  These milestones are times of exhilaration and anticipation of experiences in which we are not necessarily in control.  “Positive believing equals positive receiving” has always been my mantra.

In two days I will have achieved a milestone in my life.  A goal always present, always on hold, since the day I dropped out of college at Humboldt State University in 1974.  It was the first day of my third quarter of college when I called my mom and told her I was moving to Montana with three of my friends.  As it turned out, we decided if we could move to Montana, we might as well move to Hawaii! So we did!  My mother let me keep the $250 check she mailed to me for books a few days before.  I told her, “Experience is the best teacher,  I will finish college later.”  In two days I will fulfill that promise to my mother, and to myself.

I have been busy student teaching as part of my internship for the last 16 weeks.  For ten weeks I taught 8th grade Social Studies, and for six weeks I have been teaching 8th grade Science.  This coming Friday is my last day.  I have been an apprentice working with masters of the trade at Jefferson Junior High School:  Mrs. Tracy Worthington (Social Studies) and Mrs. Jennifer Szydlowski (Science).  To these two women I am forever grateful for their expertise, patience, graciousness, and support.  This experience is one I will never forget.  I love teaching, and they have contributed to this passion.

I share all of this here because I have had to suspend much of my expedition planning.  I contacted a few potential sponsors over Thanksgiving break (I had five days off) only to be informed by one that, “Once you get this initial trip under your belt and begin to cultivate a sizable following on your blog, social media pages (you would need to have your own), aggregate additional sponsors, and generate significant media attention (both for yourself and your cause), we would be more than happy to revisit a sponsorship with you for future expeditions or projects of this type.”  This response was from DeLorme inReach with regard to their satellite tracking and communication device and sponsorship I requested from them.  I know that I need to start small and local, but I was thinking more “priority first.”  A satellite tracking and navigation device is high priority for my trip.

Fair enough.  I have not had time to promote myself, which does not come naturally to me anyway.  However,  after Friday I am free from school and work obligations until January 2.

I have reached a major confluence in life where my life lived thus far will join with my future, bright and mysterious.

Saturday I am attending a Missouri Environmental Education Association conference held at the University of Missouri.  I hope to get ideas and network with potential innovators regarding education.  I was honored to attend Missouri River Relief’s Education Committee meeting the other night.  Great things are happening with their organization’s  river education component.  I am proud to know them and help promote their mission and vision.

One other thing:  my expedition story will be published any day on the University of Missouri’s home page as a banner story, written by Nancy Moen, who is retired from MU Publications and now a free-lance writer.  I will be posting on this blog when that happens.  MU’s chief photographer, Shane Epping, shot some photos of me on the river a while back to accompany the story.  We were blessed with phenomenal lighting just before sunset.  Shane is also best friends with our beloved river rat Beatriz Jean Wallace who has begun a new chapter in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania recently.  The Missouri River is all about relationships and community and family.

Anyway, I write this because I can’t sleep at night knowing about all of the things I have to do, people I have to contact, knowledge I must learn, and information I want to share as I begin some serious planning for this epic journey down the Big Muddy.  I feel I have reached a confluence if life, the merging of my life thus far and the bright and mysterious future ahead.  I have so many things racing through my head.

(Oh, and I also talked to journalism student, Tina Casagrand, and ex-President of Sustain Mizzou, a student environmental org, and she has offered to produce a Kick-Start video for me and help me include a PayPal link on this blog site.)

With all that said, life is good.  Thanks for listening.  Sweet sleep to all, and to all a good night.  (Oh, and I can’t wait to finally make it to Montana!) 🙂

Having a Plan B is Probably a Good Idea.

My biggest dilemma knocked on my door today.

Here is my dilemma:  Now, I am very aware that I need to plan on a minimum of three months to paddle from Three Forks, Montana, Missouri River’s headwaters, to the Mississippi River (I have determined that starting at the source, Brower’s Spring, is no longer an option).  My plan is to shove off on May 1st this spring and arrive at the STL Arch by the end of July.  This will give me two weeks before I start teaching.  I need 90 days to paddle with confidence that I will reach my goal in the allotted time, and that is the smallest window of time I need.

School starts in mid-August.  Ideally, I will have a teaching job lined up before I leave, but I have no guarantees as of today.  My host teacher (for my student internship) is requesting me as her substitute teacher for February 2 and, yes, April 30.  “Umm, there is something I need to tell you, Mrs. Smith…about April 30…”  (I have been pretty low key and have not really talked much about my plan to paddle America’s longest river, one that meanders through our very own backyard, and one that is RICH in our nation’s history.  Our very own Missouri River that graces the very curriculum I will be teaching.)

So, as Mrs. Smith’s manner is, she had some good suggestions.  One, that I apply this week for substitute teaching next semester.  She also encouraged me to seriously seek out and consider long-term substituting at Jefferson Junior High, where I am teaching now.  Doing so is like throwing a big foot in the door so it does not close in front of me.  I have planned on long-term subbing after the first of the year.  I am just praying for a term that falls between January and the middle of April.  I would like to hit two birds with one stone, so to speak.  Have my cake and eat it, too.  Experience the best of both worlds.  You get it.

What if I get offered a job teaching until the end of the school year???  Without snow days the last day would fall on May 20, with snow days taken-May 29.  Working at this school would be a dream-come-true (any school in Columbia, actually).  This is my dilemma.  I am not going to not do this trip.  I eat, sleep, drink, and dream of this expedition daily.  Having a Plan B of some sort is definitely a good idea.  Just not sure what it is, yet.