I AM CURRENTLY IN ROCK ISLAND, QUAD CITIES, WITH A DEAR RIVER SISTER, JO MASON AND HER HUSBAND, JOE. I AM TRAVELING VERY QUICKLY DOWN THE RIVER AND CANNOT FIND THE TIME TO POST ON THIS BLOG. PLEASE FOLLOW MY FACEBOOK PAGE, LOVEYOURBIGMUDDY EXPEDITION, TO FOLLOW ME DOWN THE RIVER. I WILL POST MORE TO THE BLOG BUT IT MAY BE AWHILE. COOKIN’ WITH GAS TRYING TO GET TO GULF ON TIME. HAVING A BLAST!
Please join me on my Facebook page. Hope you are able to do what you love, and love what you do! See you on the river! -Janet
I think it will hit me hard, the reality of living back on the river again. I still feel a disconnect between my teacher life and long-distance river expedition. However, In three more days the school year will end (on Thursday, May 19) and the freedom to relax and focus on the Great River Mississippi will be all mine. Short-lived, though, as we will be heading right on up to Lake Itasca, Minnesota, on Monday. Packing will likely be somewhat of a grab-n-go affair as I sift through my gear, currently laid out in an organized mess, but all in one place. Basics. Think: Basics. I need to travel trim and light. Can I do it? Oh, I can do the paddle, but trim and light??? Big challenge-haha!
Today is drizzly and cold in Columbia, a far cry from the warm sunny days of last weekend. I am trying to imagine that it’s just another day on the river, and rainy days will be a common, and even frequent, occurrence. An unexpected cold front with lots of wind necessitated a paddler rescue on the upper Mississippi a couple of days ago. He barely escaped hypothermia. I’m a bit of a fair weather paddler, but who isn’t? I love paddling in pleasant weather- sunny, colorful, peaceful and glassy. HA! I know I need to psych myself up for the miserable conditions as well. Paddling in rain is pretty cool if you can stay dry.
Last week my beautiful custom-made sprayskirt arrived from Eddyline Kayaks. They really wanted to get Blue Moon back out on the big river. I had decided to paddle my plastic Prijon Seayak, so I explained that I could take Blue Moon, an Eddyline Shasta kayak, but I will need to be able to paddle in the rain and stay dry, which meant I would have to have a bomber spray skirt. So, they asked a high-quality New York-based company to design a custom skirt for me. Seal Sprayskirts and I brainstormed about what I needed, and this skirt is the result of our mini think tank, and their quality skills. Isn’t it wonderful? And, thank you, Eddyline Kayaks, for the awesome paddle to go with.
Time is of the essence! The luxury of laying over extra days will not be the case this trip. I need to keep paddling. August 8 is my drop-dead deadline to be back in Columbia, and preparing for school will be again my priority. Paddle paddle!! In fact, Guinness World Records is working with me to create a new title for fastest time down the length of the Mississippi River. The old title about “rowing” down the river just was not acceptable to me, so I asked for some changes. Canoe and kayak paddlers do not row, we paddle. We do not use oars, we use paddles. And, some delineation needs to be made for solo or team, assisted or unassisted, male or female. Guinness changed the title to “fastest down the length of the Mississippi in a canoe/kayak. I am still waiting on the regulations they are designing. Let’s hope they took the other qualifiers into serious consideration. Nevertheless, I may be “setting” a record under the new premise, one which will be quite easy to break, I’m sure. This is what I wrote to them regarding the title change needed:
Dear Guinness World Records:
I am contacting you with regard to: Application Reference: 160214002217ffsk
I have searched for the world record of the Fastest time to row the length of the Mississippi River – individual, but nothing comes up in “Explore Records” on your website. I know of the “team” that set the record of 18 days, but I am frustrated with the 42-day “rowing” record of which you speak, or mention.
Please understand that this is an UNASSISTED solo attempt in a KAYAK, which is propelled with a “paddle” and not oars. This is also a female solo attempt. This is an event that I encourage you to currently monitor or, at the very least, that you should be incorporating into your program. The sport of paddling canoes and kayaks is booming right now. Assisted and unassisted attempts are better represented in separate categories due to the difficulty comparisons. Unassisted paddling is down to earth, is as close to the sport’s original purpose as possible, and is extremely difficult and challenging.
Please consider my attempt as a gender specific, “unassisted,” paddling attempt that will be challenged by a multitude of females in the future as more and more women step out of their comfort zone and pursue their dreams, their wildest dreams!
Also, I would love to see the details behind the current “rowing” the Mississippi River record. Rowing really needs to be in a different category than paddling. They encompass two different purposes, styles, and experiences.
Thank you for your time and consideration of my request. I look forward to hearing back from you soon. My launch date at Lake Itasca is May 25, six days after my school year ends (I am a 7th grade Science teacher).
Warm regards, Janet Moreland
The new title for the record is now (drum roll please):
“Fastest time to travel the length of the Mississippi River by canoe/kayak”
Good. I’ll take. We’ll see what happens. Setting a record is not my priority, but it’s a motivator.
And, YES, the paddling world is booming. We saw a big representation of our next paddling generation at the St. Louis Earth Day Festival on April 19. Several of us river advocate groups, and me as an individual, developed a “neighborhood” for people to visit and hang out around. Thousands made their way through the neighborhood and TOO MUCH FUN was had by ALL!
Special thanks to my niece, Rene Freels, who has come on board as my project manager. She is promotion and fundraiser knowledgeable, and she has really good ideas. One of which was the idea of me getting a booth at the Earth Day event! AND, the notion of putting out a donation jar, which raised over $200 at the event. She has also guided me to an application for a National Geographic Explorers Grant as well as a Timmissartok Foundation Exploration Grant.
AND, that’s not all, Rene also convinced me to enter some photos in The Mississippi River Photo ShootOut contest, for which I had three of my photos accepted. One of them, December Chill, won a first place in the Scenic category. Rene has good ideas! Check it out, NatGeo!
The Mississippi River Photo ShootOut Exhibition will take place from May 14 to June 18, 2016.
Photos will be on display at the following locations:
Stay tuned, there’s more to come…be sure and “like” my LoveYourBigMuddy Expedition Facebook page where you can follow me down the Big Muddy…Mississippi, that is.
Do what you love, and love what you do!
(See you on the river!) (yep, soon)
Expedition planning and spinning plates have a lot in common. Both are overwhelming, both require diligence and focus, and both will reward you with success and accomplishment, despite the intermingling with falls, drops and crashes. A plate spinner is persistent and does not ‘bag it’ when plates fall and shatter. An adventurer does not ‘bag it’ when planning confronts obstacles. Nope. They get back on the path called “onward” and forge ahead, come hell or high water! [idiom meaning “no matter what”]
Decision is the key! Decide to take a risk, and pursue an adventure. Decide to spin the plates, and keep picking them up, try again, spin ‘em, drop ‘em, try and try and try again. DECISION spawns DESIRE. This is the dynamic duo one needs to accomplish grandiose goals, pursue the unattainable, and conquer the impossible! Yes, spin plates and dance at the same time.
Rarely does one embark upon an expedition without some hesitation at first. Do I have the time? Do I have the money? Do I have the strength? Do I have obligations? Do I have the courage? Some, perhaps, may have organized their life in such a way that everything is under control, including time and financial needs. That may take a lifetime of planning. Most of us river rats do not fall into that category. More often than not we feel the appeal, then become compelled to begin the pursuit. Granted, it takes time to actually say, “YES, I’m doing it!” But, once the urge becomes a “decision,” priorities begin to shift, creativity soars, goals appear, and your life transforms.
I was meant to do this. I was born to do this. Everything in my life, the experiences, the challenges, the stumbles, the victories, have led me to this project. The time is now, as I cannot pretend I am still a youth. Well, at heart of course. I did run a trail yesterday and felt just as good as when I WAS a youth. However, taking on two expeditions in planning, yes, both the Miss and Yukon as they cannot be separated, AND teaching 7th grade Science has its overwhelmingments (I just made up that word, ha!).
This idea to paddle the three longest rivers in North America blossomed early last fall. As I tossed it around for several months, thinking mostly about the Yukon River paddle, the more I wanted to do it, and believed I could do it. However, the logistical details of paddling the Yukon this summer spun around in my mind and led to more and more sleepless nights. I realized I could not plan a Yukon paddle and teach full time with peace of mind. So, I rearranged the rivers and placed the Mississippi River on this summer’s calendar and things began to fall into place. I am looking forward to connecting the upper Mississippi to the magical lower Mississippi with a ride down the river’s full length.
Since my February 1 official announcement, I have been busy, but mostly focused on teaching, which is my priority. This website was an early expedition priority, a ‘must have’ in order to make an announcement by February 1. I managed to get it started just in time (hurray, a plate was spinning) but, seriously, I had to wait two months until this 5-day Spring Break before I could make a new post. So, call me crazy. I am calling on all strengths and fortitudes to conquer this 1Woman3GreatRivers goal.
While planning for the imminent Mississippi River plunge on May 25 at Lake Itasca, MN, which will be here before we know it, I am working diligently to craft my mission for the Yukon River. I want to help bring awareness to the Arctic indigenous Gwich’in Nation’s plight to acquire permanent wilderness designation for the Coastal Plains of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This will help protect the birthing and nursing habitat of the Porcupine Caribou, a creature that is closely connected to the Gwich’in people’s culture, heritage, sustenance, and future survival. The Coastal Plains are still vulnerable to oil and gas industry drilling. I am currently awaiting contact from them before I forge ahead with this mission in mind.
“The Arctic Refuge coastal plain encompasses approximately 1.2 million acres and serves as the biological heart of the entire refuge. Polar and brown bears, caribou, Dall sheep, wolves and muskox are just a few of the more than 250 animal species that depend on the coastal plain. Millions of birds, representing some 125 species, migrate to the coastal plain to nest, rear their young and feed. The coastal plain is not only one of the most significant onshore polar bear denning habitats in the United States but also the most important habitat for the Porcupine caribou herd.” [http://refugeassociation.org/advocacy/refuge-issues/arctic/]
In the meantime I am currently spinning more and more plates, and learning how to dance at the same time.
Many adventurers and explorers have numerous preparations and planning tasks, but these are a few of mine:
Contacting companies for sponsorship or gear support
Establishing communication with the Gwich’in Steering Committee
Applying for a National Geographic Explorers Grant
Applying for a Timmissartok Foundation Grant
Preparing Blue Moon for expedition
Reserving an educational activity booth at the St. Louis Earth Day Event on April 24
Finding a reasonably priced rental vehicle to travel to the Mississippi source, Lake Itasca.
Establishing my solar charging/storage system
Dehydrating vegetables and jerky
Developing a Curriculum Vitae (CV) for grants
Applying for a Passport
Getting my taxes done
Having bumper stickers made
Designing a 1Woman3GreatRivers Project poster
Checking airfare to and from Alaska and British Columbia
Developing a budget
Submitting photos for The Mississippi River Photo Shoot Out
Printing photos for signature and sending to LoveYourBigMuddy supporters
Starting a physical fitness program: Trail running, bike riding, dog walking, and paddling
Brainstorming a custom sprayskirt design for Blue Moon
Posting blog updates
Learning how to use Garmin GPS device
Learning how to use GoPro camera
Eat, sleep, planning for and going to work
Finding pink crocs! Help! 🙂
All THAT said, as river time approaches, my soul begins to be reminded of the peace of mind and joyful heart that comes with slipping away from the river shore, gently rocking on the water, contemplating life and its wonderments, making decisions only by me, anticipating what’s around the next bend, bonding with the good people of the river, living without excess, simply, with the stars and the moon and, yes, the mosquitos. Life is short. Find your pleasure. And, if you cannot seem to get the plates to spin, just dance, dance, dance.
“Nothing worthwhile was ever accomplished without the will to start, the enthusiasm to continue and, regardless of temporary obstacles, the persistence to complete.” – Waite Phillips
The Great Missouri River is referred to as the Big Muddy. But, hey, so is the Great Mississippi River. As numerous paddlers of both rivers know quite well, these two rivers can be, indeed, quite muddy. While paddling down the Missouri River on my LoveYourBigMuddy Expedition in 2013, I have to admit the mud was abundant on the upper stretches, but silky soft and rather clean. I know, right?! “That’s impossible,” you say. I actually found that going barefoot in this mire of mud was the best way to go. Once in the boat my feet washed off easily, and off I went. That’s not to say that I wasn’t glad when the earth hardened up. Joy filled my soul with the simple pleasure of dirt, rocks and sand replacing the squishy brown muck.
I will be heading north to Lake Itasca, MN, the source of the Mississippi “Big Muddy” River, this May to begin a source-to-sea paddle of this other great river as part of my 1Woman3GreatRivers Project. My goal is to solo paddle the three longest rivers in North America. The Missouri River is the longest river on the continent at 2,540 miles, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), with the Mississippi coming in a close second at 2,320 miles (per Environmental Protection Agency-EPA). The third longest river is the Yukon River at 1,980 miles (per USGS), which I will attempt to paddle in 2017 from its source at Atlin Lake’s Llewellyn Glacier, to the Bering Sea. Yukon River means “Great River” in the Gwich’in language. “The Gwich’in are the northernmost Indian Nation living in fifteen small villages scattered across a vast area extending from northeast Alaska in the U.S. to the northern Yukon and Northwest Territories in Canada .” (http://ourarcticrefuge.org/about-the-gwichin/) More about the Gwich’in Nation, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and my 2017 Yukon Pursuit later.
I look forward to paddling the entire Mississippi River this trip so I can understand more about our nation’s historic and cultural monument, and to build upon that very magical and personal relationship we started in 2013. Here is a video snippet from LoveYourBigMuddy Expedition taken in early November on the Lower Mississippi. Love Your Big Mississippi 🙂
Now that I am teaching full time, my challenge is to complete my adventure in 60 days (70 days, perhaps, if we have no snow days), during my summer break. I am confident that my outcome will be successful and full of celebration, but my tempo will be vastly different from my Missouri River expedition, being challenged in strength, both physical and mental, and in endurance and stamina. Dictionary.com defines endurance as: “
I say, “Bring it on”!!!
I hope you will join me on this journey down our continent’s Great River to the Gulf.
Live slow ~ Paddle fast
Peace and Love, Janet
Know your river. Touch your river. Love your river.