Yesterday, I passed out some expedition stickers to my 8th grade science students. Well, they are not mine literally, but I spent an entire semester at Jefferson Junior High School with many of them, ten weeks as a student teacher of 8th-grade social studies, and six weeks of 8th-grade science. I kind of consider them mine, at least figuratively.
I was substitute teaching yesterday for my science students and we watched a marvelous Planet Earth video called “Fresh Water.” I watched the movie five times as I had five classes to teach. Never was I bored with it, but with each viewing became totally immersed in the photography of the wildlife and the waterways highlighted in the movie.
One river highlighted was the Amazon River in South America. The Amazon carries more water than the next top-ten biggest rivers combined. It empties into the Atlantic Ocean after meandering 4,000 miles eastward from its source in the Peruvian Andes.
The students enjoyed the video, too. We saw grizzly bears feeding on salmon in British Columbia, a team of smooth-coated otters harassing a 13-foot crocodile in an Indian River, eight-foot fresh water dolphins, Botos,
navigating by sonar in the murky waters of the Amazon River, the falling waters of Venezuela’s Angel Falls, the highest in the world, mating lake flies producing smoke-like columns extending hundreds of yards up in the sky on one of the world’s largest lakes in the East African Rift Valley, and a red-bellied piranha feeding frenzy in the underwater forests of Brazil’s Pantanal – the world’s largest wetland.
Honestly, I had not planned to give away my stickers and tell them about my expedition, but the opportunity presented itself perfectly after watching “Fresh Water.”
“Ladies and Gentlemen (the line I use to get their attention), I don’t know when I will be back in this classroom, so I have a small announcement to make: I have been planning an expedition since last June. I will be leaving in 2 ½ months, on April 14th, to solo kayak the entire length of the Missouri River, which starts in Montana. The Missouri River is the longest river in North America and the fourth longest in the world, and flows about 2600 miles from its ‘source’ in the Centennial Mountains to St. Louis.”
WHAT are you doing? What’s a kayak? Where are you going to sleep? What will you do for food? Who is going with you? How long will it take you? You’ll have a motor, won’t you? Won’t you be scared? The river is dangerous. That’s crazy. I could never do that! Good luck.
“This is one of my objectives: I want you, and kids like you, to know that “you can do anything”, if you have the desire, a positive attitude, and support to help you. I want to model that for you by doing this trip.”
Now, I would like to add:
So listen up: chase negatives away, just like the smooth-coated otters did with the crocodile, and “Make It Happen,” no matter what the “It” may be. Got it, guys?
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.
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.
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.
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.
I have ordered 200 more stickers after giving away the first 100. The blog address will be larger on the new ones.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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???
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):
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:
Thought, comments, suggestions? Still need something for the front. Or, should this go on front? Hmmmm.
…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.
My stickers are in the mail. I modified them by changing the color to blue, from black, and the miles to 2600, from 2300.
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.
My Daughter, Haley, helped me with a sticker design today. I ordered 100 of them. Let me know what you think. Would you like one? Should I make more? How about a different design? I would like to use these for a tiered giving donation reward. Learning as I go…