Costa Mesa, Ca.
October 1, 2020
Dear Family & Friends:
Covid-19 has changed everything. I have cancelled my plan to walk the Camino de Santiago next month. The United States and Spain have been hit hard by the virus, and Spain is not allowing flights into the country from the United States. I will complete this pilgrimage in the Fall of 2021.
My plan for the Spring of 2021 is to through-paddle the Missouri River in my beloved “*livelikedan” and “Ollie Power” canoe.
My trip will start at the source of the River in the Rocky Mountains near Three Forks, Montana and will end at the terminus of the River just north of St. Louis, where it merges with the Mississippi River. The Missouri River spans 2,341 miles and runs through seven states-Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri. When I reach St. Louis, I may continue down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico, although I already paddled this span of the Mississippi in 2019.
The Missouri River is the longest river in the United States. The Missouri played a major role in the exploration and expansion of the American West. Following the Louisiana Purchase, President Thomas Jefferson charged Meriwether Lewis and William Clark with responsibility to find a waterway that would connect the east with the west, all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Thus began the Army Corps of Discovery, aka “The Lewis & Clark Expedition.” The Lewis & Clark Expedition began on May 14, 1804 and proceeded up the Missouri River from St. Louis to its headwaters in Montana. From there, the Army Corps of Discovery crossed the Rocky Mountains and proceeded to the Pacific Ocean via the Clearwater, Snake and Columbia Rivers.
The Missouri River is far more remote and scenic than the Mississippi River. This will leave me alone for long stretches, accompanied only by my wit, wisdom and thoughts. It will also require careful planning because there will be precious few cities along the River for rest and resupply.
The Missouri River is more difficult and dangerous than the Mississippi River because of the swift current, wing dams, whitewater rapids, dams, reservoirs, lakes, lengthy portages and wild and unpredictable weather. I will not fear this difficulty and danger because, as always, I will have God as my navigator, rudder and protector.
I look forward to retracing the steps of the Lewis & Clark Expedition in reverse. I hope I meet as many nice people along the Missouri River as I met while paddling down the Mighty Mississippi.