Posts Tagged With: boat

The Goal: The Gulf of Mexico…Check! December 5, 2013

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I finally did it! I made it all the way to the Gulf if Mexico, but not without some very harrowing and tense moments in the Southern Louisiana fog. Fog? Who knew? That was an oversight on my part. Forgot about the fog.

This is my amazing support crew that helped get me through the fog, through the Head of Passes, down South Pass to the Gulf, and back to Venice in a thick fog bank. What an epic finish to an unforgettable journey. Big THANKS to my support crew, the Bar Pilots and their crews in Venice and Pilottown, and to all of my supporters who cheered me on every single day!

My unforgettable crew and dear friends and daughter:

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L-R: Mark Dierking, Denise Goforth, Mwah, Jamie Stevenson, Haley Moreland (my sweet daughter), and Deb Miller. Extraordinary!!

And the stellar crew at Pilottown:

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Pilottown Crew to the rescue! L-R: Josh, Eric, Adam, Booher, Leon and Shawn. What a comfort these guys were after being in a very uncomfortable fog. Thank you, gentlemen! You are the best!

Pilots at Venice Bar Pilot’s Association:

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Bear (R) and Allen (L)

Our first attempt to make it to the Gulf was on December 4. We were doing pretty good on the East shore, although the fog was lingering on that side. By the time we passed Pilottown in the fog, we were engulfed. At one point we all heard a boat coming right toward us. I was out of the channel, and so was my support boat, but I didn’t know it. They were in only three feet of water. Hearing the boat coming closer and closer, but not seeing it, I was terrified they would be run down by a big fishing boat. I screamed at them to turn around. They appeared to be frozen staring into the fog. Oh. My. God. Will I witness their demise???? Thankfully, no. After the boat passed us by, we all knew we were finished for now. I got on the phone to Pilottown and asked them if we could come ashore.

“Of course, we will be expecting you,” they replied.

When we arrived 15 minutes later, they immediately took us under their wing, brought us inside, fed us from a smorgasborg outlay of food, shared their ‘mission control,’ and educated us on their system for bringing big ships up from the Gulf to New Orleans. Most importantly, they explained the Fog Predictor, which indicated a lift in the fog at 9:00AM until midnight tomorrow, December 5. We set our goal to the Gulf for tomorrow. They invited to breakfast, too. So nice and comforting, these river angels.

The Pilottown crew directed us to the back room where we feasted. From sadness to gladness, comfort on many levels.

The Pilottown crew directed us to the back room where we feasted. From sadness to gladness, comfort on many levels.

The fog predictor. The gap in the red and green lines on the top indicates our window to shoot the pass and get back home. I tell ya, adventure in its purest form.

The fog predictor. The gap in the red and green lines on the top indicates our window to shoot the pass and get back home. I tell ya, adventure in its purest form.

 

As you can imagine, I was VERY ready to reach the Gulf of Mexico.

As you can imagine, I was VERY ready to reach the Gulf of Mexico
the next morning.

A tiny portion of the breakfast offered to us by the Pilottown crew.

A tiny portion of the breakfast offered to us by the Pilottown crew.

The fog was thick the 10 miles from Venice to Pilottown, which is located one mile above Mile Zero. The Gulf of Mexico is 12 miles from Mile Zero down South Pass.

The fog was thick the 10 miles from Venice to Pilottown, which is located one mile above Mile Zero. The Gulf of Mexico is 12 miles from Mile Zero down South Pass. South Pass is the route I had chosen to reach the Gulf.

On the final dash to the Gulf, my greatest concern was the fog in the Head of Passes. This is a wide open space from which three branches of channelized water run to the Gulf. The Southwest Pass is the shipping lane for tankers, freighters, and container ships, Loutre Pass is mainly small craft and fishing boats, and South Pass fishing craft. Tankers come up SW Pass and cross through the Head of Passes to the West Bank near Pilottown. As you can imagine, in the fog, this is a dangerous route through which to paddle.

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Just prior to leaving Pilottown, three Plaquemines Parish Marine Sheriffs pull up in their boat on their way down to Port Eads, located one mile upriver from the Gulf down South Pass. When I found this out, I somewhat pleaded with them to guide us through the fog through the Head of Passes with their radar. As you can see in this photo, I was gravely concerned. I could not get them to commit, for whatever reason, so we determined to just go for it with the support we had from the Pilottown crew, and the Venice pilots, who drive the ships up the Pass.

I asked them if they would guide us through the Head of Passes with their radar. They could not commit. We had to go ahead on our own.

I asked them if they would guide us through the Head of Passes with their radar. They could not commit. We had to go ahead on our own.

Off we went with great apprehension coupled with extraordinary determination.

Off we went with great apprehension coupled with extraordinary determination.

This photo I took during our attempt the day before. But, you get the picture. Tense moments to say the least.

I took this photo the day before. But, you get the picture.
Tense moments to say the least.

The Pilottown crew were phenomenal in communicating our whereabouts to the best of their ability. However, when they began asking the ship pilots if they had seen us, I knew we were on our own, so to speak. We had to navigate wisely through this stretch or catastrophe would be imminent. What we did know from my marine radio, was when a ship was coming up through the fog out of SW Pass, or down into the Head of Passes past Pilottown. Mark used his depth finder to try and avoid the channel, but at some point we had to cross.

Ship approaching in the fog.

Ship coming into view through the fog.

There was a moment when we were immersed in fog and very vulnerable. I began to paddle with my GPS as my guide, which is what the crew told us to do. How scary is that in the fog???? Very! As my heart began to sink further into my gut, I mustered everything I had to keep my composure, as we all were doing at that time. At that very moment, we heard a boat coming right for us. Oh my God! Will it see us in time to stop??? All we can do is wait as it gets closer. Then, appearing as though angels from the spiritual realm, the Sheriff’s boat appears and immediately they begin pointing out the channel light at South Pass.

Marine Sheriffs of Plaquemine Parish.

Marine Sheriffs of Plaquemines Parish. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

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Miraculously, the fog began lifting at that moment and we could then see all three passes! What a moment of joy and relief that was, never to be forgotten.

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Extreme JOY! I can see all of the Passes!

Extreme JOY! I can see all of the Passes!

I paddled harder than I had paddled on the entire journey, the 12-13 miles down South Pass. I took out my iPod and played river songs and sang at the top of my lungs, particularly Black Water by the Doobie Brothers. Playing music always gives me a much-needed boost of energy.

The highlight of my entire trip had to be when I saw my white pelican near the shore in South Pass. I couldn’t believe my eyes! He had come to see me through to the end, and provided that quiet comfort we both understood, that he had provided since day one of my paddling journey. I still shed a tear when I think about how perfect and complete this trip has been.

The perfect good bye and congratulations. I was immersed in joy and supercharged with energy after seeing my pelican friend.

The perfect good bye and congratulations. I was immersed in joy and supercharged with energy after seeing my pelican friend.

 

We had a clear shot to the Gulf, and most of the way back up the pass. We were not out of the woods yet. But we had made it to the Gulf of Mexico!

The crew landed before me so they could scope it out and take some photos of my arrival.

The crew landed before me so they could scope it out and
take some photos of my arrival.

The Gulf of Mexico

The Gulf of Mexico

What a sweet moment of victory, seasoned with a dash of bittersweet. I had run out of river. A new chapter in my life was about to begin.

What a sweet moment of victory, seasoned with a dash of bittersweet. I had run out of river. A new chapter in my life was about to begin. I was thrilled.

Champagne, a swim in the water, and a big heartfelt thank you to all of my dear supporters. Then, we were "outta there!"

Champagne, a swim in the water, and a big heartfelt thank you to all of my dear supporters. Then, we were “outta there!”

We made it about 2/3 the way up South Pass when the fog settled in again. We were on a race against time and fog. We absolutely HAD to get back to Venice before dark. We moved as one with eyes and minds on high alert. As you can imagine, the victory was oh so sweet.

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We made it back to Venice safe and sound, just in the nick of time.
It was dark when we pulled up to the dock.

My faithful horse, Blue Moon, an Eddyline Shasta Kayak. What a sweet ride and loyal companion. I love my boat.

My faithful horse, Blue Moon, an Eddyline Shasta Kayak. What a sweet ride and loyal companion. I love my boat.

Thank you, Mark Dierking, for a stellar job piloting the support boat and keeping us all safe and alive. You are the best!

Thank you, Mark Dierking, for a stellar job piloting the support boat and keeping us all safe and alive. You are the best!

Jamie Stevenson, Denise's boyfriend, was the premium first mate and pillar of strength throughout. LoL! No, really, he was. We all were.

Jamie Stevenson, Denise’s boyfriend, was the premium first mate and pillar of strength throughout. LoL! No, really, he was. We all were.
(Inside, we were all feeling like he looks.)

Haley (L) and Denise (R) We were all so very happy to get back to Venice.

Haley (L) and Denise (R)
We were bonded and quite frankly, family, after these few days together. What an unforgettable experience!

Deb, one of my dearest and closest friends. Wow, what a ride, eh girlfriend?! We did it!

Deb, one of my dearest and closest friends.
Wow, what a ride, eh girlfriend?! We did it!

Our home away from home in Venice, Louisiana. The Lighthouse Lodge and Villas comped our villa for all but one night, the night that April donated to the expedition. Big thanks to April Durnin for donating to the expedition two free nights of lodging (one night for two rooms) at this fabulous hotel. We could not think of one single complaint. The villa was extraordinarily lovely.

The Lighthouse Lodge and Villas in Venice, LA. We give the villas five bright and golden stars. Loved it!

The Lighthouse Lodge and Villas in Venice, LA. We give the villas five bright and golden stars. Loved it!

I will be updating this blog in the days to come. That will help me sort through my photos and videos, and reminisce on the pleasures of this incredible journey. Then, of course, I will write a book, or books. I would like to write a memoir, a curriculum book with lesson plans and activities focused on the rivers and natural environment, and a coffee table book with some of my best photographs. Oh, and T-shirts. I want t-shirts made ASAP. Maybe a calendar right away. So much to do!

I will follow up this post with some videos as soon as possible. Until then, I hope you enjoyed the adventure of my final days.  I’ll be back to fill in the gap.

Shouting out a huge THANK YOU to each and every one of you who believed in me, the expedition, and who gave their heart and soul to support the journey.  MWAH!! Much love to all, Janet Moreland XOXO

Yep, paddle through to the Gulf. It just makes sense. August 21, 2013

Yep, paddle through to the Gulf. It just makes sense. Photo taken August 21, 2013

Do what you love and love what you do.

Love Your Big Muddy Expedition

3,700 River Miles

April 24, 2013 – December 5, 2013

First American Source-to-Sea Missouri River

First Solo Woman Source-to-Sea Missouri River

The Missouri River is the Longest River in North America

The Missouri/Mississippi River System is the Fourth Longest in the World.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Loveyourbigmuddy

Categories: Expedition, Missouri River | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Efficiency is key

Getting a little nervous now, and must work efficiently.  Countdown 12 days, YIKES!  I am scheduled to substitute teach the next three days.  Then, off to St. Charles for the Missouri River Relief clean-up (arrive Fri-leave Sun), plus a crew meeting tonight at 6:30.  Next week I will be putting all the puzzle pieces together, practicing packing the boat, and hoping that I get called for a teaching interview which will, ideally, land me a job for the next school year.

On Saturday night, April 13, my daughter, Haley, and my niece and her family, Rene, Kyle, and Sam, and I will be attending the Dance Showcase at the Columbia Performing Arts Center.  My cousin, Jen Lee, teaches dancing there (she taught there when Haley was in Junior High) and puts together the grand finale of all the dance classes, the Showcase.  Also, several of my students will be performing that night, Lauren, Kaylin and Rachel.  They will be happy to see me there.  They are such great dancers!

Sunday send-off will be the next day at Cooper’s Landing, April 14, 10:00AM.  Wow!  Ya, I’m a little nervous.  Here is a list I composed between midnight and 2:00 AM last night.  I keep paper and pen bedside.  Every time I think of a little to-do item, I have to write it down, there are so many. These are just a few of the things that came to mind last night.  Oh, and add American flag for the boat onto that list.

Midnight To Do List-April 2, 2013

Midnight To Do List-April 2, 2013

I conducted a loosely traditional christening ceremony before dropping Blue Moon in the water for her first voyage with her new name.  This was last Sunday, March 31, and a fun time despite the fact I forgot my really cool christening script I found online. Technology prevailed and I was able to  access the first paragraph, which I had posted earlier in the week.  The rest was improvisation, and seemed perfectly acceptable to all present.

The, the flotilla had a most wonderful paddle under blue skies and mild temperatures.  My Eddyline Shasta truly is a dream boat.  Blue Moon, Sweet Dream.  We bonded.  Ya, we got this!

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Blue Moon (next I have to apply the blog address, maybe today) handled tenderly by Joe Kellenberger and Michael Stacy.

Megan May setting up cameras for her Missourian video story.  She has been following me around getting footage.

Megan May setting up cameras for her Missourian video story.
She has been following me around getting footage.

Reading the script off my iPhone.

Reading the script off my iPhone.

First time in the water as "Blue Moon."

First time in the water as “Blue Moon.”

The christening cruise crew

The christening cruise crew, L-R: Amanda Faith and Theo, Alison Kellenberger, daughter Hannah, Janet Moreland, Joe Kellenberger and Talia, Michael Stacy, Jonathan Lauten

Talia

Tally, riding shotgun? With Joe.

Theo

Theo, first time on the river, with Amanda.

The Joseph M. LaBarge, Roger and Barbara Giles' vessel.

We met up with The Joseph M. LaBarge, Roger and Barbara Giles’ vessel, at Eagle Bluffs.

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Ahoy!

Wednesday evening, March 27, we had a wonderful heart-warming turn out for the Love Your Big Muddy Blues Benefit.  Many of the finest musicians in Columbia played Red Hot Blues that night.  Heidi Branaugh organized the event, with help from our committee, and things worked out beautifully.  $1600 was raised to help with my expenses, and for that I am enormously grateful.  Certainly, the evening was incredibly special and a memorable one for all.  Much love in our community shined forth that night.  And Shane Perrin, The Stand Up Guy, came to the event!  What a wonderful supporter and inspiration.  He planted a few seeds in my mind while visiting together!  😉

Talking about paddling rivers.  Fun stuff!

Talking with Shane Perrin about paddling rivers. Likin’ it!!

My daughter, Haley, will be part of my support for the first week or two.

My daughter, Haley, will be part of my support for the first week or two.

Johnny D'Agostino and Alan Loshbaugh

Johnny D’Agostino and Alan Loshbaugh, so great!

Band-Sax and Harp

L-R, Scott McCullough, Charley Waddill on drums,
Tony Lotven with sax in hand and Alan Loshbaugh

Charlie Brown Boogie Down Dance Contest

Charlie Brown Boogie Down Dance Contest

L-R, Dennis Ternamian, Charley Waddill and Jim Quisenberry

L-R, Dennis Ternamian, Charley Waddill and Jim Quisenberry

Dave and Band

L-R, Zed Zardov, Scott McCullough, Dave Bandy, Charley Waddill

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And our most gracious and talented host, Heidi, announcing the raffle winners.

And our most gracious and talented host, Heidi, announcing the raffle winners.

Raffle items

Lovely raffle items donated by beautiful people.

Food

Complimentary appetizers

Media interest has picked up, which I suppose is to be expected.  Ciera and Megan, journalism students at the University of Missouri, are working for the Columbia Missourian to get a story out soon.  Ciera is working on a written article and Megan is working on a corresponding video story.

Ciera started her story awhile back. Should publish soon.

Ciera started her story awhile back. Should publish soon.

Megan May getting shots for her video story.  Here, we applied the new name to the boat in the house since the temps outside were too cold.

Megan May getting shots for her video story. Here, we applied the new name to the boat in the house since the temps outside were too cold.

Loved talking with Elizabeth Labauch, who wrote a blog post about the expedition for Footprint Magazine.  Footprint Magazine is produced by Sustain Mizzou, an environmental student group at the University of Missouri.  Tina Casagrand does a great job of keeping the magazine vibrant.  Liz did a great piece from a somewhat different perspective.  You can read her article posted to the Media Coverage Page on this blog.

I met with Simon Rose and Rene on the KFRU Morning Meeting yesterday.  Be sure and check out the on-air interview, also posted on the Media Coverage Page at the top of my blog.

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Right now I am waiting for Philip White to call.  He wants to interview me for The SUP magazine online.  Cool.  He also writes for Canoe and Kayak.  Doubly cool.

Just got off the phone with Philip.  Great friendly conversation.  I’ll keep you posted.

And finally, Leslie Kolovich and I did a podcast for her SUP radio show, Paddle for the Planet.  Most enjoyable conversation with her, on and off air.  Leslie is passionate for paddling AND the planet.  Check out our podcast interview in the Media Coverage drop down list.  And, check out her SUP Radio Show where she interviews, and supports, the paddling communities everywhere!

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Leslie Astin Kolovich

Well, folks, got another blog post out here, didn’t I?  That wasn’t even on my ToDo list.  I will strive to keep you faithful followers updated during my trip.  I anticipate I will be very busy taking photos, videos, charging up the laptop, writing in my journal, paddling onward, and keeping my hands clean.  They don’t call it the Big Muddy for nothing, you know!

Feel free to suggest, inspire, encourage, and entertain by leaving a comment any time.  Always appreciated!  Cheers!

Life is a journey.  Live fast ~ Paddle slow

See You On The River…

Categories: Planning, Support | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Boat, Brower’s, Bike and the Blues

It has been a couple of weeks since I started removing the old name and website from the Shasta.  Slight delay because of a heap of snow dumped on us over the course of two weeks.  It has been cold and the snow still covers the majority of ground.  This photo is from BEFORE the first storm, which dumped around 8-10 inches on February 21.

Before February 21.

Before February 21.

And after February 21…

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Photo taken on February 22

And after another 5 or more inches, which fell on February 26:

Photo taken on March 2

Photo taken on March 2

But, speaking of snow, I talked to the person in charge of the gate to the road up Sawtelle Peak.  Because the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has an Air Traffic radar tower at the top, the road is gated to keep cars off the mountain when snow is present.

FAA Radar on top of the mountain

FAA Radar on top of the mountain

However, they plow the road for the employees, although 4-wheel drive is often necessary.  The gentleman I spoke with was very favorable to helping us access the mountain road.  He will get us past the gate so that we can ski to Brower’s from the switchback located in the upper right  of this photo, below “Sawtelle Peak.”

Sawtelle Road switchback upper right, and Brower's Spring under the "3" in the center, at the end of Hellroaring Creek where white meets green on the map.

Sawtelle Road switchback upper right, and Brower’s Spring under the “3” in the center, at the end of Hellroaring Creek where white meets green on the map.

Here is a photo of Sawtelle Peak:

Summit of Sawtelle Peak

Summit of Sawtelle Peak NOT in April

And, a 3-D version from Google Earth, with switchback on far right straight across from Brower’s Spring (the green dot is the radar):

HiketoBrowers3D

We’ll ski down Hell Roaring Canyon which sweeps left from Brower’s Spring through the center of the photo.

Next month I will be sipping from the waters of

Photo taken in June 2012 by Rod Wellington.

Photo taken in June 2012 by Rod Wellington.

Brower’s Spring, the ultimate source of the Missouri River near the Continental Divide!  Of course, we will be digging through many feet of snow, no doubt.  Norm Miller and I will be packing shovels.

So, that is great news!

I picked up my on/off road bike that Carl and Josh at Klunk Bicycle and Repair built for my stretch in the beginning when the waterway is frozen over.  It is anticipated that this will be the case in the Centennial Valley, which is where we will come out of the mountains.  There is a gravel road that follows right along the creeks and rivers and through the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge.

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I may have to ride my bike as far as 80 miles to Clark Canyon Reservoir.  Good to be prepared for any situation.

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Carl has offered to loan me the bike with the option to buy it.  I became a bit attached after just a few loops around the parking lot.  I am hoping to purchase it at some point.  I look forward to riding it until I leave.  Must practice, right?  Here is a photo of the bike and crew:

L-R Josh, Carl, and me.  The bike, of course, is front and center.

L-R Josh, Carl, and me. The bike, of course, is front and center.

We had a great meeting last week to discuss fundraising.  What a wonderful group of supporters:  Heidi Branaugh, Steve Schnarr, Melanie Cheney, Suzanne Cooper, Dory Colbert, Roger and Barb Giles, Jeff Barrow, and Ginger Masters.  We agreed that a Love Your Big Muddy Blues Benefit would be great, particularly because Columbia, Missouri, is a mecca for musicians.  We have a whole bunch of great musical artists, so we hope to have a dynamite show.  We would like to hold the event at a local club, MoJo’s, on Wednesday, March 27, during happy hours: 5:00 to 8:30.  We’ll provide appetizers and lots of stuff to raffle away.  This is the same day that my expedition story will be featured in the Columbia Missourian.  Should be a good day. Still waiting for confirmation on the location.

The outpouring of financial contributions is humbling.  I am very grateful for my friends and their desire to help.  Without their contributions, the expedition would still go on, but the financial burden would be difficult.  Thank you to all who are able and willing to donate their precious moneys.  I am very grateful.  If you would like to donate, you may do so here on my Donations Opportunities Page, or go to my GoFundMe page at LoveYourBigMuddyExpedition 4 Education.

Here is one of Norm Miller's re-supply packs from his trip UP the Missouri River.

Here is one of Norm Miller’s re-supply packs from his trip UP the Missouri River.

I am currently focusing on foods to take.  I looked at dehydrators today and will likely purchase one to make jerky and dried vegetables.  I have received a fantastic response to my request for food ideas on the Facebook Paddlers Pages that I am a part of.  This has been very helpful, and relieves quite a bit of anxiety as to what I will be packing for food.

Comfort foods

Comfort foods

That’s it for now.  Things are getting busy, sleep is difficult, writing blog posts takes time.  I appreciate all of you who are following me.  Thank you.  Still trying to figure out the tweeting thing on Twitter.

Life is good.  Live fast ~ Paddle slow

See you on the river!

P.S.  Will post more soon.  It is getting exciting!

Categories: Planning | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Planning: Boat, Blog, Brower’s, Businesses and Press

Enjoying four days off from substitute teaching this week-end.  Friday was a teacher work day and Monday is Presidents’ Day, a holiday.  Lots to do, lots to do.  First thing to tend to is my boat.

shastaonStand

The old keel strip has been removed.  I just need to wipe it down and get all the goo off of it.  Eddyline Kayaks will walk me through applying the new strip.  It is a protective strip that keeps the bottom from getting too banged up when exiting the water onto shore.  Hopefully, rocks will not be too big an issue on the trip.

I will also get the rudder hooked up with the cables, remove the old name, “Barbara May” and change to “Blue Moon.”  I mean, how often does a trip like this cross your path?  You got it: once in a blue moon.  The next blue moon is in 2015, I believe.  Anyway, I will also remove Bob Bellingham’s web site address, steadypaddling.com, and apply my own, http://www.loveyourbigmuddy.com.    I think I will be ready for my maiden cruise after that.

GoodBy-BarbaraMay

Time for a name change.

 

The video is ready except for one last little edit.  I may be able to post it here by the time I’m finished writing this post.  Facebook is very easy to post things on quickly, but my blog is like home base.  We’ve been together for quite a while now, growing together, so I’d like to post the video here first. It is short and sweet.

Making the video.  (Photo by Dennis Dye)

Making the video. (Photo by Dennis Dye)

I will be starting a fundraising page with GoFundMe.  I have been fighting the idea in my mind, whether or not to go “commercial.”  I guess I will go for it, since I really do need the financial support.  Substitute teaching is wonderful, but the pay is meager.  I love the fact that many of my friends are donating on my “Donation Opportunities” blog page.  Warms my heart and builds me up.

Here is one of Norm Miller's re-supply packs from his trip UP the Missouri River.

Here is one of Norm Miller’s re-supply packs from his trip
UP the Missouri River in 2004.

I will soon start my food supply list, get detailed on what clothing items I will bring, and take another day to invite companies to donate items.  I feel as though the bigger companies are not interested since this is my first expedition.  I am trying not to depend on their support. If fundraising goes well, I will purchase the items I need such as a tent, down sleeping bag, stove, GPS device, etc.

I visited with our local sport shop businesses in Columbia last week.  The effort is proving to be beneficial.  Walt’s Bicycle Fitness Wilderness will be donating a couple of items from my wish list.  And, I am pretty sure Klunk Bicycles is donating a used mountain bike for the portion of my trip requiring a bike ride due to frozen waterways.  Once officially donated, I will make an announcement.  I really want to help promote our local businesses if I can.

Copy of waltlogowebidea23

I am watching the snow depth level at Lakeview very closely now.  The first stretch of my trip will be determined by the winter conditions such as snow and ice-covered lakes and rivers.  This link gives historic as well as daily snow levels and water input into the Red Rock River.

South Valley road in winter is often only passable using a snowmobile. This is looking east into the refuge. Lakeview is in the distance. (photo by James N. Perdue)

South Valley road in winter is often only passable using a snowmobile. This is looking east into the refuge. Lakeview is in the distance.
Photo taken in Feb., 2011 (I think).
(photo by James N. Perdue)

I am determined to get to Brower’s Spring no matter how much snow has fallen.  I will have to rely on my ski mountaineering experience from my years living in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  Staying strong and healthy until April is very important.  I am running two miles every other day, rowing on the rowing machine, taking walks, and will soon start riding my mountain bike substantial distances.  I always try to eat good and wholesome foods.  Basically, high fiber and low fat is my norm.  I have made the switch to 100% whole wheat breads and pasta, and I eat a green salad just about every night.  I will miss having a glass of Chardonnay with dinner while on my trip.  Maybe I can stowaway a bottle now and then.

I have topped the 200 “likes” number on my Facebook page.  YaY!  If you have not liked the page, please do so.  As I mentioned before, I am able to post to FB much more than I do blog posts.  These posts take time and careful consideration, which I am finding harder to do now that I am substitute teaching most days.

The Columbia Missourian, University of Missouri’s Journalism School newspaper, interviewed me last week and we will meet soon for a photo shoot.  The Missourian produced the first piece of media about my trip way back last August (or September?), with Bob Bellingham’s paddle down the Missouri River being the main feature.   You can find that article on my “Media” page.  Now, my trip will be a feature article.  I am happy about having our local press support my trip.  Here is Ciera, the journalism student who interviewed me.  She is just delightful.

Ciera-MissourianInterview_2-6-13-autocorrect

I started a Twitter account, @MoRivExpedition, so that I can utilize all the social media tools.  I really don’t know much about Twitter.  I am learning as I go.  I am following a lot of cool adventure people, but only have two followers.  That’s okay, though.  I have no idea how to accumulate followers.  I will just tweet little tweets now and then, and see how things progress.  Once I get started on my trip, I cannot imagine having time to keep up with all the social media anyway.  I will have to save my writing for the rainy days…or, snowy days…or, windy days.

Or, maybe on an occasional lovely day, I will take a break and hang out.

Photo by Norm Miller

Photo by Norm Miller

1Camp_NormMiller

Photo by Norm Miller

Live fast ~ Paddle slow

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Updates on Sponsorship, Funding, Promotion, & Preparation

I spent nearly all day on the computer yesterday.  I find that easy to do these days.  Writing a single letter of request for a donation takes a lot of time.  I try and carefully consider what I am writing to each company.   Much time is taken just to research company websites, find a product that best meets my needs, search out a place to apply for sponsorship/product donation for that company, and/or find a marketing manager’s name to address on a letter.  Then, a clear and concise letter of request is composed (and they are all different) to personally address that company and their product.

RealityBudget

These days gear companies are pretty organized with their online sponsorship request systems (sign of the times).  Some companies will let you know that if your purpose does not fall into their provided categories, don’t even bother to apply (like REI and North Face).  Others will let you know that they will try and respond within 48 hours, five to ten business days, or within four months.  I realize that it is important to apply to several companies, however, you have to plan for many hours in order to search for sponsorships.

I found out pretty early on that some companies won’t bother with you if you are not a “celebrity” athlete.  I understand that.  That is why the companies that have chosen to help me out are incredibly special and I hope to reward them with ample promotion.  I am determined that my partnership with them will be a win-win situation.  Thanks again to big company in-kind donations from Eddyline Kayaks/Swift Paddles, SPOT, title nine, and Patagonia for supporting my expedition.

Eddyline-croplogo_swift

patagonia-logoSPOT_logo_2c_sm_tag_URL_ol

So, yesterday I requested donations from Katadyn Group (Optimus stove and freeze-dried/dehydrated foods), Sea to Summit (sleeping bag and dry sacks), GoPro (camera), and Smith Optics (sunglasses).  I spent quite a bit of time trying to find a Marketing Manager for Apple to request a Mac Book Pro.  I know, what are the chances?  But, if you don’t ask, you don’t even get a shot.  I will have to send them a snail mail letter, pretty sure, and that doesn’t mean it will get read.  I will also ask Sprint if they will give me six months of all-data service for an I-Phone that I can’t buy yet.  A long-shot but, again, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Think BIG!

Other companies I have sent requests to are Garmin (GPS), Marmot (sleeping bag), InReach (denied because I’m not a celebrity adventurer), Cascade Designs (tent, stove, Thermarest pad), PowerFilm, Inc. (solar-powered roll-up panel), Kokatat (paddling clothes), and KC Paddlers.  Still waiting for a response from these folks.  Others yet to contact are Seal Line (dry bags, PFD (life jacket)), Teva (sandals), other tent and sleeping bag companies, and a backpack company.  I will need to find more paddling companies to research for gear.

I have not asked any companies for money.  I think they like to see some successful accomplishments before they sponsor an expedition with cash.  Hopefully, someone will connect with what I am doing and jump on board…soon.

Even more special are some of my dear friends who have donated financially.  Thank you Bill and Anne Diehl, and Karen and Ric McCann – good friends from Bear Valley days.  Also,  my dear friend Deb Miller and best friend, Dave Bandy.  You are the first.  Thank you so much!!!

I am beginning to try some foods to bring along.  I have a few Knorr side dishes to try at $1 a pop, which include mashed potatoes, rice dishes, and pasta, of course.  I want to make sure I have plenty of comfort foods.  I will try and contact some companies for food donations.  Not sure who yet.

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So, this is the bulk of the work I have to do.  Hopefully, I will not have to purchase a tent and sleeping bag.  After five months of not working due to student teaching, and substituting part time for $70/day, I will soon need to take out a loan, or launch into a fundraising campaign, or both.  I’d like to avoid another loan.  My student loans are enough to keep me occupied.

My boat is all set except to remove the old keel protection strip and apply a new one, which Eddyline has provided.  I need to sand some scratches and fill them up.  And, I need to set up my rudder.  Oh, I have to rechristen the boat with the new name:  Blue Moon.

Shasta-gear_Bob

I have ordered 200 more stickers after giving away the first 100.  The blog address will be larger on the new ones.

L-R, Dave Cornthwaite, Rod Wellington, Dale Sanders

L-R, Dave Cornthwaite, Rod Wellington, Dale Sanders

I  also designed a new business card last night because the first batch did not turn out visually as nice as it appeared on the computer screen.  No surprise.  You get what you pay for and they were cheap.  Here is a picture (a little fuzzy) of my new design I created with MOO.  They should arrive in about a week.

business-card-MOO-autoEdit-crop

The promo video will be ready in a week or so.  Thank you Jim Karpowicz and Tom Newcomb of Black Truck Pictures.  I hope to start an organized fundraising campaign then, perhaps with GoFundMe, or something of that nature.  You can visit my Donation Opportunities page, which I have set up with tier-level rewards for financial donations.  Please consider donating financially to help with the success of the expedition.

This sign points to Red Rock Mountain and Mount Jefferson, situated on the Continental Divide. This sign is visible here at the entrance to Alaska Basin in Montana. Looking east.

This sign points to Red Rock Mountain and Mount Jefferson, situated on the Continental Divide. Sawtelle Peak is behind and to the right and will be our entry into Brower’s Spring.

Norm Miller will be skiing into Brower’s Spring with me and has tracked down a pair of skis and boots from his friend who is loaning them to me.  I am thankful for that.  I may try and find a bike donation, or just bring my own.  It is nothing special, and pretty heavy, but it is a comfortable ride.  Someone may have to talk some sense into me to try and get a good bike to ride the sixty or more miles from the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge to Clark Canyon Reservoir where I am planning to put in a boat.

Pronghorn and calf

Pronghorn and calf at wildlife refuge

The Red Rock River on that stretch is complicated by private land with barbed-wire fences crossing through the river, electrical fencing doing the same, corrugated sheet-metal dams, and snag piles forcing numerous portages and body submerges.  The road follows that stretch on which I will ride my bike.

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. to the left of canyon.)  This is where we will come out of the canyon.  Our route heads back and winds way up to the left.

Finally, I spend a fair amount of time on my blog posts.  I try to make them interesting with good visual accompaniments.  They take much longer, sometimes hours, than my more spontaneous updates on my Facebook page:  Love Your Big Muddy Expedition.  If you have not, please like my FB page.  Sponsors like to see lots of page “likes.”  Of course, I like to see the support.  You actually are supporting my expedition indirectly by liking and following my pages and blog.  THANK YOU!

Love Your Big Muddy Expedition

Love Your Big Muddy Expedition

So, if you are wondering when this epic adventure begins, it already has.  I will be leaving for Montana with my daughter and a friend on the morning of April 14, the day after my Science Teacher Certification Exam.  I hope to start the trek with my ski into Brower’s Spring on or near April 20th.  Maybe I will find myself at Three Forks on May 1st.  That would be ideal.   I cannot wait to see the mountains and begin the adventure of my lifetime.  Or, perhaps the first of many.  Cheers!

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 (hopefully, not April!).

Categories: Planning, Sponsorship | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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

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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

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Boat…CHECK!

I am buying Bob Bellingham’s Shasta and all his gear for $1800.

“Thank you, Bob, if you ever read this, as I am grateful that you accepted (not without a fair amount of ribbing) my much-reduced-offer from your original request.  I will conduct a proper ceremony for the rechristening and name change of the Barbara May, per our discussion at Cooper’s.  And, you can count on me drinking a beer in your honor regularly along the way.  Although, probably not as frequently as you were given the opportunity to knock one back on your journey.”  😉  Cheers!

I have posted my 1982 diesel VW Camper Van on eBay to, hopefully, get enough money to pay for the boat and gear.  And, I posted my Prijon Seayak ($1500 (obo)) on CraigsList and eBay with the hope I can get Rio Oso’s ACL surgery scheduled.

Rio Oso, my river bear.

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Gear & Sponsorship Considerations

Dave Miller’s book, The Complete Paddler, offers detailed planning information, which relieves me of unnecessary anxiety.  I am currently absorbed in the section entitled:  Clothing, Gear, Hardware, Water, Food, and Shelter.  Yep, that about covers my interests right now because I need to know what I need in order to compose and mail off my sponsorship requests.

Although I just purchased a sea kayak recently, I have my heart set on the Eddyline Shasta.  Andy Bugh paddled a Shasta on his Expedition4Educationtrek of the same route (all the way to the Gulf), and loved it.  Bob Bellingham is currently on the river in the same boat, and likes it as well.  Sea kayaks have a smaller cockpit and are quite confining.

Andy Bugh & his Shasta kayak
Expedition4Education – 2011

The Shasta is a tandem kayak that can be adapted to a single seat, converting the boat into a more spacious craft for a three month solo journey.  Eddyline is a family run outfit in Seattle.  They recycle their scrap plastic!  I am hoping they respond to my request.  In the meantime, I will need to mail many more letters to kayak companies who offer a similar design.

Aside from the clothing, i.e., paddling jacket, pants, shorts, sandals, hats, shirts, and under wear, etc., Dave offers a list of gear that is extensive, but essential.  From his list I will be able to direct my letters to specific potential sponsors requesting needed items for the expedition.  The list is long, but kind of interesting to look at, at least for me.

Camp gear:

  • Tent
  • Plastic tarp for use as inside tent liner
  • Bivy bag (optional)
  • Extra nylon parachute cord and tent stakes
  • Small tube of seam sealer
  • Sleeping bag
  • Lightweight fleece bag (to be used as a liner or alone on warm nights)
  • Self-inflating pad with repair kit
  • Stove fuel
  • Fuel bottles
  • Cook kit: nesting pots
  • Large spoon
  • Large pocketknife
  • Biodegradable soap
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Water purifier with extra filters
  • Small plastic shovel or toilet trowel
  • Small pruning shears or small machete
  • Clothespins and line
  • Water bags and bottles
  • Collapsible water bucket
  • Backpacker’s towel
  • Seasonings, pump-spray margarine, and small bottle of olive oil
  • Backpacker’s freeze-dried fare
  • Bag meats: tuna, chicken, salmon
  • Energy snacks, breakfast bars
  • Powdered drink mix coffee and/or tea, powdered milk/creamer/sweetener
  • Plastic tub of baby hand-wipes, toilet paper
  • Bathroom bags for areas where paddlers must manage their own waste

Miscellaneous Gear

  • Glasses (two pair), reading
  • Sunglasses (two pair)
  • Eyeglasses strap (
  • Map case for kayak deck
  • Waterproof watch with alarm
  • GPS unit with spare batteries
  • Marine band two-way radio with NOAA weather band (waterproof)
  • Dog tags with name, address, phone number, and blood type
  • Camera (water resistant/proof)
  • First-aid kit, snakebite kit
  • I am adding “bear spray”
  • Medications: antibiotics, ear drops, and eye drops
  • Cell phone in small dry box with charging equipment
  • I am adding “thin film solar panels”
  • Medium-sized dry box for odds and ends
  • Assortment of small and medium carabiner clips
  • Binoculars
  • Duct tape, tube of Goop, tube of marine hand-moldable epoxy, multipurpose tool
  • Dry bags for deck: light solid color, one with backpack straps
  • Small stainless steel thermos
  • Fishing pole and real, tackle including a small lure assortment, salt minnows
  • Extra lighters/fire starters
  • Life vest with compass, survival gear, small boat horn
  • Kayak with all the essentials: bilge pump, paddle float, sponge, bailer, throw line bag, flotation bags, and extra rope, bike cable and lock with extra keys.

Are you overwhelmed yet?  Yes, I will need a bigger boat.  🙂

Categories: Expedition, Planning | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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