The students of at Highland Elementary in Denver CO proudly display a drawing given to them by one of the Achuar kids in the Amazon rain forest of Ecuador! Highland also opened their hearts and gave $200 for the Achuar Education project!
Mrs William's class
Mrs. Frank's class
Mrs Abell's class
Big hearts at Highland Elementary!
Thank you Highland! Thank you for your stand for the Amazon rain forest and the people who call it home.
We got the first batch of school supplies to take into the Amazon rain forest on Monday Nov. 4th!
I will be off the grid until next Saturday. A big thank you to all who have supported this project as we continue to move forward with the Amazon Angel program.
This is not the first, nor will it be the last batch of school supplies I plan to mule into the rain forest to support the indigenous people. If you want to be a part of this project, please visit my website and look for the Achuar Education project tab.
Gone are the pools or lakes created by the lock and dams. Now the river moves at a faster pace, it becomes restless as it makes its way to the Gulf of Mexico.
I put my canoe on the water just twice once I left St. Louis. I did this for a couple of reasons. One, the river just becomes a larger version of itself. But mainly, I was running out of time to get to the mouth of the river.
Paddling the Mississippi River near Helena Arkansas.
Following the river gave me the opportunity to learn some about the American Civil War.
Civil War Canons at the Vicksburg National Military Park Memorial. The battle fought here was a major turning point in the civil war for the north.
I continued to follow the river by road and when ever possible, I would take a ferry ride across the river. Any chance to get on the river was a welcomed opportunity to deepen my relationship with it.
My truck on a ferry ride across the Mississippi River.
The river flows 1.2 miles per hour at the start, but the time it reaches New Orleans, they estimate the river is flowing 3 miles per hour, more then doubling its flow rate.
The southern most point you can drive to in Louisiana is not where the Mississippi River ends.
It's still 20 miles by river from this point to the Gulf of Mexico.
I was lucky enough to make a couple of new friends who took me down the main channel of the Mississippi River all the way out to the Gulf of Mexico. As we headed south we passed by ocean going vessels from all over the world entering the river.
We pass by a Russian ship as it enters the Mississippi River from the Gulf of Mexico.
Pelican's sat perched on signal lights that directed ships. At one point I briefly saw a pod of dolphins surface, and disappear into the brown murky waters.
Hanging onto the boat at the swells from the Gulf of Mexico toss our boat around.
My friends Rhino and Leslie who took out to the place where the river meets the gulf.
It was clear by the time we reached the point where the river meets the gulf. Large waves started to toss our boat around. Still, it wasn't that small of a boat, it was used for sport fishing. But I was very happy that I wasn't in my canoe.
The purple pin shows Venice, where the road ends. The blue dot shows where the boat I was in as it entered the Gulf of Mexico!
Measurements of the length of the Mississippi from Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico vary somewhat, but the United States Geological Survey's number is 2,340 miles (3,770 km). The time it takes a drop of water from Lake Itasca to reach the Gulf is typically about 90 days.
I traveled the distance in 2 months, floating sections of it along way. Visiting with people and historical sites to deepen my appreciation for the river and the places it touches.
I did take some time to explore a part of the delta in southern Louisianan, and had the chance to meet some alligators!
A gator swims close to check me out.
Exploring the Mississippi River was a wonderful journey. The people, the places and the nature I encountered were amazing. One could spend a life time exploring the Mississippi River rain basin and never be able to completely capture the full picture of the river and the role it has played and continues to play in our country. But for 2 months I have been on a date with the Mississippi River and we have started a relationship, by spending time and getting to know one another. What I can say, I have a new found and deeper respect and appreciation for the mighty Mississippi River!
I want to give a special thanks to all the generous people who were so kind to me along the way. And a shout out to the Corp of Engineers for their support and help in giving me access the river in their facilities.
I am having a great time in northern Minnesota. The people here have been so helpful and
kind. It’s making it hard to continue my
journey onward south.
Visitors at the rock dam on Lake Itasca in MN.
A few days back I floated a couple of upper sections of the
young Mississippi River below Lake Itasca.
I let go of the idea of floating all the way to Bemidji, in low water
the meandering river lengthens dramatically.
The map said it is 62 miles, someone told me in these conditions it is
more like 162 miles.
Three days of paddling were enough on this section to give
me a sense of the river. On top of that,
I have had a blast driving around in my little green truck following the river
and talking to people I meet.
Jim and Kari Wavra.
I’ve been sent on my way with homemade rolls and bread after
being fed breakfast. A pail of hand picked wild blueberries, coffee and genuine
smiles as I have explored the area.
Thank you to Chris Conger for guiding me through the first section of
the river, and for inviting me into your home.
A hot shower and food is such a gift.
Jim and Kari Wavra make awesome pancakes. Robert and Tammy Godwin
understand the art of blueberry picking in the back woods.
Chris Conger finds a way to float down the Mississippi River.
Picking wild blueberries.
And my hosts in Bemidji have been just the best, Dennis and
Susan Doeden. All of these people and more have added such fun to the journey. Thank you!
A new adventure has begun. The Wondrous Mississippi.
My own personal attraction to rivers, in spite of my poor swimming skills, is the fact that they are constantly moving and changing. These are qualities I have found to be invaluable for my own growth during my life’s journey. I tend to agree with the school of thought that the human spirit’s truest nature is to constantly expand and grow. And so it is for a river’s journey, a route of expansion and growth until it returns to the sea from where it once began.
Driving to Minnesota I had flash backs as a kid. Growing up in Nebraska, family vacations were rare. But the few we took were to go fishing in Minnesota. For some crazy reason my dad always like to drive through the night, arriving early in the morning at the lodge, that was never ready for a new guest to arrive at 7 am. The smell of the cool evening air as I drove north took me right back to those days. A giddy feeling filled my smile.
Taking the canoe for a test run down the Otter Tail River.
My first stop was to visit a good friend from my high school and college days in Alexandria, MN. Here I planned a test run of my new canoe and to fine tune what ever else needed. Truth be told, I still need to pack things in a way that they can be found again. When traveling I use the system of always putting things back once done, but first you must have a chosen place. My super busy schedule kept me from accomplishing this goal. I have most things, I think, that will be needed, but finding them is an adventure in itself.
With great help from Terry and his brother Rob, we had a magical run down the Otter Tail River on a Saturday morning.
Yum! Fresh caught walleye! With Rob and Terry Kostinec. Someone please ask Rob who caught the largest fish?
Plus we had a chance to do a little Walleye fishing, we caught enough for an awesome lunch.
Walleye fishing with my buddies Rob and Terry Kostinec near Alexandria MN.
From there I headed for Hackensack MN to meet up with Chuck and Ce Leavell. Friends I made while presenting on the EV Explorer last December.
Invaluable, that's what friends are.
With my head somewhat spinning and trying to catch up with the reality that I am setting off on a adventure to explore the Mississippi River I landed at the home of Chuck and Ce in Hackensack. What a treat to spend time with a naturalist in this part of the world. Their warm and generous spirits were very helpful for the transition to exploring the Mississippi River.
Ce and Chuck Leavell drop me off at Lake Itasca State Park in northern MN.
Next it was time to figure out just how I was going to get down the Mississippi River!
Lake Itasca, MN.
The Mississippi River is somewhere around 2,300 miles long. I will not canoe the entire stretch of the river, only a few sections where it is young and welcoming. My intent is to experience a moment of the essence of the Mississippi River. To look into its waters and listen to the stories it wishes to share. To celebrate its subtle beauty and encounter the people who call it home. There are over 1,500 historical sites along its shores and countless moments of natural beauty. More than enough opportunities for a new adventure.
In 40 days I plan to begin my journey to explore the Mississippi River.
This may seem like
plenty of time to prepare, but with several other projects going on at the same
time, I am already feeling a little stretched.
journeys, this time I have reached out to community businesses and invited them
to participate and show their support for educating our students in this
special way. It's been a little daunting and sometimes even a bit
discouraging at times, but my resolve has not wavered nor my commitment to my
message. If I need to eat peanut butter sandwiches for two months in order to
get this accomplished, then so be it.
I am excited to
share the Fremont radio stations KHUB and KFMT are taking a more active role in this trip and we have
plans to start running promotions the first week of July.
"Where in the
world is Dean?" This will be a game played twice weekly in the
morning at 8:20, as listeners will have to guess where I am when I call
in. This is going to be fun and for sure
will generate some excitement for the journey.
Also, my weekly
column will come back to the Fremont Tribune.
I know there are many in the community who look forward to reading about
my adventures. I am happy to take them
along via the newspaper.
I’m going to start
keeping a blog about this journey now.
It will give you a chance to follow me as I prepare to do something that
I am not completely sure how I am going to do.
Traveling in the United States is different then traveling in other
parts of the world. I’ll leave that for
Cape Toppers of Omaha installs the roof rack for my canoe.
Today racks were
installed on the topper of my little green pickup truck, I now have a way to
transport my canoe.
One step closer to
getting ready to explore. Next, get a canoe!
promises the opportunity to meet some interesting people who grew up with the
Mississippi River. I am looking forward
to learning what the Mississippi River means to them, what it represents and
how it has shaped their views on life.
I am happy to have you along on this next journey. To learn something about this amazing river, the history woven into its fabric, the nature nurtured by its waters and the people who call it home.