Thousands of miles in a kayak

s2g lakeitasca

This blog describes the planning for and execution of my attempt to paddle in a solo kayak starting at the source of the Mississippi River (Lake Itasca MN) and ending in the Gulf of Mexico (Burns Point Park LA). Once the activity begins, I hope to post on this blog as often as possible, along with approximate GPS coordinates of my location. I am optimistically targeting less than two months for the trip.

I plan to leave Lake Itasca around April 27, 2019 and hope to finish by late June.  A running commentary will be periodically added, identifying my progress and describing some of the towns visited.  The end of all this is a party in New Orleans to celebrate the end of the adventure.

Paddling, hour upon hour, day after day, will seem easier knowing that with each mile I click off a hopefully large group of people will contribute at least one-penny per mile to a charity (no part of the contribution is used to support the activity itself). So, don’t forget to visit the fundraising page and, please, add a note by clicking on “comments” at the bottom of this page. 

School-aged people, who are following my journey, might be more interested in a story provided by Norman Miller of the Mississippi River paddlers group. I paraphrase:EskimoCharlie

In 1928, “Eskimo Charlie” Planninshek decided to go on a canoe trip with his two kids, daughter Inez (8) and son Anthony (6). Together with a friend named O’Grady, they traveled from Chesterfield Inlet, north of Hudson Bay, through various rivers, the Cranberry portage on the Saskatchewan river into Lake Winnipeg. They continued down the Red River and portaged into the Mississippi river above St. Paul, Minnesota. After paddling to the Gulf of Mexico, they followed the coast to Key West. Norman Miller summarizes: “They were at the time intending to continue to Cuba, but I can’t recall the rest of the story. I tracked down Inez’ granddaughter last year and she told me all about her ancestor’s trip and life afterwards. So they would be the youngest modern descent, but not from Itasca. They started 1,500 miles north of Itasca. (Oh, they did make it to Nassau, Bahamas but opted to paddle back to US mainland and up the Atlantic coast. It was way too much, so the captain of a Steamer took them north to Canada and dropped them off.)ECreturn

On a side note, when young six-year old Anthony grew up, he became a WWII war hero, he was a member of the legendary Black Devils Brigade.”

I found the following 1931 newspaper clip about part of the adventures the family had on their return trip.

— Jim Barrese

13 thoughts on “Thousands of miles in a kayak

  1. Jim, rest assured my fifth graders and I will be rooting for our very own adventurer. Comparisons between Lewis and Clark and Barrese and Cavanaugh will abound!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks to everyone in your class for the signed card, it was a wonderful surprise just before the start of the trip. If they care to try their mapping skills, I plan to stop in South Bend IN, then St. Cloud MN, and finally in Bemidji MN before starting on Saturday morning.

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  2. I remember when you, Don & I went tubing at the Delaware Water Gap years ago. Kayaking the Mississippi River is definitely a different caliber of trip than the Water Gap. Hopefully, your next trip is not in a barrel over the Niagara Falls! Be safe & enjoy – Marie/Jim.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Jim!

    I remember when you, Don & I went tubing at the Delaware Water Gap years ago. Kayaking the Mississippi River is definitely a different caliber of trip than the Water Gap. Hopefully, your next trip is not in a barrel over the Niagara Falls! Be safe & enjoy – Marie/Jim.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sorry I’m a little late to start following the expedition – I won’t ask you to go back and start over… Good luck and here’s hoping for smooth sailing. Café Du Monde is just a little further downstream on the left. … A bit behind. Now enjoying the ride to La Crosse and now Dubuque.

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