Last week, we received the exciting news that the crew at Adventureitus Productions has the documentary 99% completed. They have started a KickStarter effort to help cover their final production expenses. The awesome news is that my followers are going to be able to pre-order their very own copy of "Dale Sanders: Source to Sea" through the KickStarter program! Click on the link below to check out the varying options for your order. We have so many people to thank, but these guys at Adventureitus Productions have gone above and beyond to make sure that my story was told in a truthful, yet humorous film. I am honored to have worked with them, and hope that my followers support their efforts in this final "push" to the finish line!
Those that to Donated to JDRF we Thank You.
Thank you so much to all those that made donation contributions. The Cruising for a Cure Source to Sea Paddle raised over $23,000 in funds, 100% of which went to JDRF. These funds are being used for research projects. I have faith a Cure to Diabetes will soon be found.
So many people to thank. I would love to mention each and every one of you. I actually have a list of those that contributed $100.00 or more. Just got cold feet, Only mentioning the first names here:
Gary, Diane, Carl, AJ. Donald, Jess, Dorothy, James, Roy, Janet, Dan, Bill, Mark, Jonathan, Trixie, Charles, Julie, Stephane, John, Norman, Mary Anne, Elaine, Rodney, Thomas, Kelly, Gwen, Nelita, Sue, Teresa, Natalie, Pat, John, David, Steve, Jerry, Joan, Craig, Jim, David, John, Pat, Roy, Tom, Vivian, Walter, Mary, Concetta, Cathy, Priscilla, Ruth, David, Freda, Ray, Kathy, Vance, Raymond, Gail, Jan, Casey, Stanley, Pat, Mitch, Pat, David, James, Jim, Holly, Susan, Craig, Annette, Kate, Dianne, Tom, Larry, Dominique, Peggy, Richard, Glenn, Charles, Tonya, Lauren, Carol, Wanda, Mark, David, Beth, Al, Dorothy, Peggy, Mary, Tonya, Laurin, Kate, Dawn, Pat, Sherry,
Isn’t that great folks?! To each of you that contributed, no matter how small, your contributions are appreciated. We have faith in the fight to find a cure for T-1 Juvenile Diabetes will soon be won. Until then, we remain hopeful with my efforts to raise awareness and I will continue doing whatever I can for the cause. We are blessed to have such a dedicated group of fine individuals that donated to the cause.
Canoe and Kayak Magazine. A big thank you goes to C&K Magazine. Ever since 2012, when I started getting signatures on my Wall I have been impressed with C&K Magazine; especially their annual awards promotion program. Incidentally Dave Cornthwaite was the first to sign the “Paddlers Wall of Fame”. In my opinion C&K are first also in many ways. First to recognize paddlers annually by creating such high level awards program. Nominations are received world wide and the Competition from this year's nominations was impressive.
Thank to all the good folks at Canoe and Kayak Magazine for promoting the sport of paddling through out the world. I am also blessed to have been the 2016 winner of the Spirit of Adventure Award. All previous three winners of this award are worthy of being mentioned. Dominique Liboiron, Janet S. Murdock and Keith lynch. Hats off as well goes to the Re-Discover North America crew for winning the 2015 Adventure of the Year Award.
I was honored to be part of the great awards ceremony at the Outdoor Research Trade Show, Salt Lake City August, 2016. Canoe and Kayak Magazine, you made my day:
SPOT Gen3 by SPOT LLC: SPOT was my first on river sponsor. The support SPOT staff gave me was greatly appreciated. I am now proudly a Product Ambassador for SPOT and the device was with me and working every inch of the Mississippi River, from it’s source at Lake Itasca, Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. Family, friends and followers were able to see my track, pinging my precise location every every 10 minutes. The Source to Sea expedition would not have been as successful without SPOT. Your sponsorship was appreciated. Many loyal followers have told me stories. They would say things like: My (son or Daughter) would not go to bed at night until they choked the SPOT link to see where on the Mississippi River you were camping for the evening (or words to that effect).
Thank you SPOT for being my faithful companion while paddling the big rivers, and offering to be there for me when I attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail next year in 2017. I will make an attempt to hike the entire Appalachian Trail from Springer Mountain, GA to Mt. Katahdin State Park in Maine. If I can pull it off, that age record will be mine as well. The key is, hike all 2200 miles in one season.
If any of you are considering a tracking device for your next adventure — make it SPOT. www.FindMeSPOT.com
World Wide Support: River Angel support and “get out the votes” efforts were received from around the world. The support came in many stages and forms. Todays post is dedicated to recognizing that international support, naming the individuals I feel contributed the most: Dave Cornthwaite of London, England, Rod Wellington of Chatham, Ontario, Canada and Mark Kalch, originally from Australia, currently living in Argentina. Thank you guys for jumping in there, helping me get my fare share of the world-wide votes. The kids with Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes also say, thanks for your support, while we all recognized them during the river portion of the Source to Sea paddle itself.
Now folks - hang in there with me. There is another Canadian that went far above and beyond that normally expected of one individual. Yes, Dominique Liboiron, is a hero. He is from Alberta, his home is Southeast of Calgary. Dom himself is a past recipient of the the Spirit of Adventure Award. In 2012 he received the first ever awarded by Canoe and Kayak Magazine. The original first time winner. I am convinced a large block of my votes came from Canada and Dominique, being a newspaper reporter and recognized freelance writer himself “put the Icing on the cake”.
Thank you Dominique for flying all the way down from Canada to New Orleans, LA to paddle the last four days with me. I will never forget the issues we had with the New Orleans Police. Just trying to put the boats back in the water and paddle down river to set up camp before dark. It appears when we took out of the river couple days before it was a “No Swimming” zone. The Police Officer strictly enforce the rules saying “paddling is same as swimming”. I told her “we wont be swimming, just paddling” and appeared that just just guarantee a “NO YOU CANNOT PADDLE FROM HERE” mandate. It took powerful persuasions, elevating the issue through three layers of bureaucratic red tape, to finally get approval to launch..
You and I paddled on ahead. Nothing could have prepared us for the storm awaiting down river. The gale force winds were blowing directly up stream in our faces. So strong that when my boat got broadside to the wind, there was nothing I could do to straighten her up. Had to just let her let it float, sideways with the current. Had to used all my strength and skill just keeping the craft afloat. How in the world did you alone, in that tandem canoe, keep from swamping?
Your help getting out the Canadian votes were God sent. Your efforts did made the difference. For that and for being my friend, I thank you from my heart. You can see that Dominique has the right “Medicine Hat”. Please read about Dom’s journey from Saskatchewan to New Orleans, to honor his uncle Mitch. A very well produced CBS Special video presentation follows.
Again Dominique I thank you spending time with me on the river and for getting out the Spirit of Adventure votes in Canada. The video below was shot by Grey Beard just after we reached the Gulf of Mexico.
Close Relatives: I am blessed with a great family. Originally there were 42 first Cousins, twenty five aunts and Uncles. Only three my past generations are still living: Aunt Bill, Uncle Claud Uncle James, The have supported me to best of their ability, and I thank you very much.
All my cousins, 1st, 2nd an 3rd generations, nieces, nephews. I am so proud of you, glad to have your support. Thanks to Face Book we now have a great media for communicating. I thank each and everyone of you. Thank you for donating your hard earned cash and checks to the cause during the Cruising for a Cure expedition. I also thank you for voting for me for Spirit of Adventure award, by Canoe and Kayak Magazine.
The picture below was taken at our last Hankins family reunion in 2011. On the farm in Lickskillet, Kentucky where I grew up: (as always goofing around). Not all were present:
Norman Miller. Special thanks goes to those that nominated me for the Spirit of Adventure award. I have heard there was at least ten submitted. However, the one nomination that counted, for sure, stands out above all others. Norm Miller’s. His is likely the nominator that cinched the deal. Norm is the Administrator of the well known “Missouri River Paddlers” Face Book Group with 1,643 members. Also Norm is an adventurer from way back, His paddles on the Missouri and beyond are legendary.
Norm, I thank you very much. I thank you as well for driving all the way down to Salt Lake to attend the Awards Banquet. Your presence was paramount. Also, I appreciated visiting with the folks from the Re-Discover North America Team. Their winning of the “Adventure of the Year” Award ended with an euphoric evening for all.
I got the impression the Canoe and Kayak Magazine number of votes cast for all nominees was the most ever. I have no individual figures. I do feel though I received “Tuns of Votes” and feel no doubt your efforts to get out the vote made a significant difference. I could not have been more pleased, standing there with you. WOW! I was truly blessed.
Thank you Norm for all you have and what you are doing to promote paddling on the Missouri
Shannon Silvey Williamson: When the chips were down my Niece Shannon was there.
From the very start of my Source to Sea expedition to paddle the Mississippi River for Juvenile Diabetes I began writing daily blogs. Jonathan Brown was developing a website. I was having difficulties though and could not maintain the blog tab or upload photographs. My iPhone six plus worked great. Just couldn’t bridge the gap to make the actual website postings. I was clear nothing would be posted on the new greyberadadventurer.com web site for months.
The word was spread - HELP! Shannon, bless your soul, and within just couple days my blogs and daily photos / videos were being posted. Being a new website, she also had to tweak several glitches and refine the process. She also had to re-write my fetal attempts to draft blogs with quality. Shannon, you were God sent. You were able to edit, sometimes totally re-write, my attempts to prepare website post. You were also able to process images, sent daily via my iPhone Six Plus, posting them virtually the next day. Without Shannon real time website postings would have been impossible.
The blogs can still be read on line. The daily photographs are still there. To view them click here: Dale’s Daily blogs and photo postings
Shannon still maintains the website today. And for that I deeply appreciate what you have done helping us effectively reach all goals and objectives. Also thank you for the extra help getting out the votes for the “Spirit of Adventure" award win. I love you girl.
Jonathan Brown: Jonathan Brown is the man. Without his early encouragements, website development and paddling alongside, much as possible, the mission / goals likely would not have been met. Jonathan was a critical cog in the wheel to accomplish the Source to Sea expedition. Thank you Jonathan, cause the benefactors were the Children with T1 Diabetes. Also because of you and your dedicated co-workers, I was able to learn / get somewhat tech smart, taking basically one electronic communication device . My iPhone Six Plus made it possible for me to place voice calls, send messages, take photos / videos, write Blogs and timely get them to my niece for posting to my website.
Jonathan is actually the person that introduced me to world famous English Adventurer, Dave Cornthwaite, who gave me the name: Grey Beard Adventurer. Dave and Rod Wellington and Richard Sojourner also paddled with Jonathan and I on the most difficult short adventure of my life. When Dave, A Source to the Mississippi River paddle on the Wolf River, southwest Tennessee.
SUPAS the entire Wolf River. An adventure with Jonathan and others I will never forget. This expedition, even though only eight days long, was a major theme in the recent book “River Angels” written by Rod Wellington. The book covers much about this God forsaken journey through likely the deepest swamps in the mid-south. The book is a colorful documentation of a strange adventure. I not only accurately depicts the difficulties of paddling through such wilderness but gets to the root of the issues with personalities and other unusual happenings.
River Angels is available at CrowBooks.ca. Maybe one day, if I live long enough, I will write the rest of the story.
Jonathan also designed the Grey Beard Adventurer logo, used throughout the journey down river for 2345 miles. I am committed to use this logo depicting the Adventures of Grey Beard for the rest of my life. Love this logo and Jonathan. Thank You Jonathan Brown for all and mostly for just being my friend. Your words of encouragement made it all worthwhile. May you be blessed in your future. Now that you live in California we won’t see you often, but our hearts will be with you. Memphis will miss you.
I vividly remember the last time I saw you. We were paddling in harsh conditions between Memphis and Helena Arkansas. You were paddling Dave Cornthwaite’s old Swim 1,000 paddle board. That day we sat out a horrendous storm, not able to paddle the last mile to reach Helena until after the storm passed. It was frightening. We weathered the storm arriving safely at John Ruskey’s, Quapaw Canoe Company in time for a goods night rest. You had two days left you could devote to paddling. Our calculations looked like it would take three days to reach Greenville, Mississippi. As it turned out, we were correct in our calculations, Richard and I did have difficulties reaching Greenville, Mississippi. Again, as you so often do, you made the right call. It took us three days and we almost didn’t make it before dark.
Thank you Jonathan for all you did to get out the votes, I know your efforts we significant and for that I am blessed to be able to call you my friend.
John Ruskey: The Mighty Quapaw Canoe Company strikes gold again. Yes, a great deal of the credit for winning the Spirit of Adventure award goes to John, Mark River and and the rest of his Company team in Clarksdale, Mississippi. I am mentioning John now for early on he offered to sponsor the expedition. He believed in me. He believes in the Kids. He to would like to see a cure found for T1 Diabetes.
John’s generosity with help acquiring my canoe, river angel support and marketing were just some of the ways he helped make the Causing for Cure expedition possible. When the chips were down he and “River” actually paddled alongside me from Natchez, Mississippi to St. Francisville, Louisiana. I needed help when heat got the best of us. John and Mark River were there for me.
John also loaned us equipment, stored boats and supplies for almost a year, free of charge, I might add. Not only did John give direct support, but his efforts spreading the word and greatly helped get out the vote. John is one of the best, a hero in my book.
For those of you not familiar with John’s Quapaw Canoe Company, he offers signature tours on the Mighty Mississippi and other Midsouth rivers. For anyone wishing to explore the lower Mississippi we recommend joining him on one of his hassle free adventures. He is even organizing a tour with world famous English adventurer, Dave Cornthwaite , September this year, 2016.
John is the founder an author of the “River Gator” a guide to water trails on the Mississippi River from Caruthersville, Missouri to the Gulf of Mexico. For those wishing to explore the lower Mississippi River, this may be an experience of a lifetime.
May the River Be With you my Brother, as John himself would say:
Austin Graham, Brad Tallent and Coltin Calloway: I first met Austin and Brad in 2013 on their way through Memphis while paddling the Gulf to Gulf Odyssey, They also returned to Memphis shortly after reaching the Gulf of Mexico to attend the Paddlers Reunion I hosted at my home in February 2014. Shortly after the reunion I was asked by the Adventureitus crew if they could paddle Source to Sea with me, filming and documenting the journey. Yes of course.
Austin and Brad launched with Richard and I at Lake Itasca, the source of the mighty Mississippi. The third member, Coltin immediately started processing footage from Lake Itasca and continued to do so for the next 80 days, until I finished the journey at to the Gulf of Mexico. The film is being produced in Chattanooga, Tennessee by their company, adventureitusproductions,com. I am happy to say the Dale Sanders Source to Sea movie will be released this October. I am so proud of the these three and blessed to have had the opportunity to be filmed by them.
The hardships Austin and Brad encountered on the river were horrendous. Can you imagine paddling a clunker, chosen for it’s stability, with 1,000’s of dollars worth of equipment on board? They couldn’t afford the luxury of swamping. Well that’s just what Austin and Brad did —- They never swamped the canoe, even under extreme weather and terrible record high water conditions. A fete unbelievable but true. For all practical purposed, the camera gear they started with they finished with.
I have great faith in the abilities of these three “boys”. The A, B and C’s of film making. Two documentaries have already been released by the trio: “The Climb to Katahdin", staring Colten and Lindsay Anne, who has since become his wife and Austin, whom they met on the trail. The film features their experiences along the Appalachian Trail from Springer Mountain, George to Mt. Katahdin in Main, all 2200 miles. The second movie documents Austin and Brad as they made their historic paddle from the seaward end of the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the Gulf of Mexico. Seven months and 3,000 miles. Both films were produced with the highest possible quality. I am pleased they chose my paddle to document.
I am deeply rewarded, beyond words they selected me to produce a movie of my paddle down the Mississippi River. I thank them and cherish their friendship with the highest respect. Simply stated - they played a major roll, making it possible for me to meet every single goal set for the Cruising for a Cure. We did it, we certainly rase awareness and exceeded the fundraising goal for research to help find a cure for Juvenile Diabetes.
And most of all, I thank you guys for reaching out to you family and friends getting them to vote “Spirit of Adventure” for Dale Sanders. Winning the award was a big honor and I thank you for helping make it possible. (I might add that Austin and Brad was themselves nominated for the Spirit of Adventure Award in 2013)
Richard Sojourner: At least five years ago Richard ask me if I would paddle the Mississippi River with him. Reluctant to say “yes” (for several years) I eventually did and ask him immediately to join me on the expedition. On May 15 2014, exactly one year from our start at Lake Itasca, Minnesota, we announced our intentions to each paddle this great river solo form the Source to Sea. I in my canoe and Richard in his canoe and later on his kayak. Richard was the key to my success. Without him I doubt very seriously if I would have set goals so high - Solo padding the Mississippi River from Source to sea in 8o days at 80 years old.
Plans were for Richard to paddle on ahead few minutes, when we reach the gulf, claim the record as oldest person to paddle the full length of the Mississippi River and then for me to paddle in and take the record. Unfortunately, with extreme high waters, coupled with a record high heat wave between Greenville and Vicksburg Mississippi, Richard was ordered by Doctors not to continue on paddling at that time. This was by far the most emotional day of the entire trip. I still tear up, as I am doing now, from this disappointment. The silver lining though - Richard was able to re-start at Vicksburg, few weeks later and paddle through to the Salt Water.
Thank you Richard, and may you be blessed. After all you should have been on the stage with me accepting the Spirit of Adventure award. On behalf of all the kids, River Angels and Voters thank you Richard for supporting my program, all the way from Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico. I could not have had a better person to paddle with. You are my friend for life.
Judi Sanders Silvey and Dr. Elaine Sanders Bush, my Sisters:
No paddler could have a better support crew. This was especially true in the early stages leading up to and through the entire paddle journey it self. Judy was most instrumental in helping me select the theme -Juvenile Diabetes. She actually took the lead and organized the fund raising venture, donations to JDRF for research; hopefully researchers will be finding a cure for diabetes someday. She set the goals, which I might add, were smashed even before arrival at the Gulf of Mexico, some 22 miles south of Venice LA. on August 15, 2015. Down the South Pass to South Pass Island. Finishing in the salt water.
Without Judi and Elaine the first sixth miles on the river would have been very difficult to impossible. The early start on 15 May, 2015, we were the first group out of Lake Itasca the Headwaters that year on the Mississippi River. It was very cold, sometimes miserable conditions. My sisters actually met us by vehicle along the way to re-supply, set up camp and plan the next days journey. I truly don’t know how we would have been able to tolerate the blizzard conditions, snow, sleet and rain coming in sideways without Judi and Elaine being at each river crossing awaiting our arrival. Thank you both.
Additionally, Judi and Elaine, beyond the upper sections of the river, actually met us at strategic location in Missouri, Tennessee, and Louisiana. As anyone that has paddled weeks on end knows, seeing a friendly face on the river bank is vital to moral. Both my sisters went far and beyond the norm in their efforts to provide support - and for that I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I love you both.
Judi and Elaine arrived in Venice early, before we paddlers arrived. Fortunately they did for at the last minute the shuttle boat driver pulled out at the last minute. Someone had to locate a replacement boat. I was on the water and could’t give it the time needed. Judi and Elaine first hand, with many others River Angels, sat out o find a replacement shuttle boat. They enthusiastically took on ownership of this issue, a seemingly impossible task , and sat out to located a boat that could shuttle 20 - 30 supporters from at Gulf of Mexico, South Pass Island, back to Venice. With the Help of Cody Portie and others, a Shrimper was found that made his boat available for only the cost of the fuel. What a blessing.
FaceBook played a major role in getting the word out, Judy is a master at effectively using this social media as a means of spreading the word., promoting events and fund raising. No doubt her efforts, supporting the Cruising for a Cure paddle were instrumental in my meeting or beating every single goal set. We also thank all those that donated. A special article will be released later thanking all donors and voters personally. Judi and Elaine, I could not have pulled it off without your hard work, support and sincere, dedication of love. Judi Sanders Silvey's Picture below:
Meriam B Sanders: For sometime now, I have longed to paddle long distance, hiking and bicycling months at time. These activities have been close to the top of my “bucket list”. Over the years I dabbled in each, never really venturing beyond home more than couple weeks at a time. Having experienced multi-week journeys in each sport just fueled the fire. However, to leave home for long expeditions, the family must be on board, especially my wife Meriam, I could not leave Meriam without her complete and dedicated consent. In the spring of 2014 - I must have caught her in a week moment. She said “YES” and a plan to paddle the Mississippi River from Source to Sea were born. Meriam I thank you my love one for supporting me on every stroke of the paddle and for your prayers while I was out on the river raising awareness and funds to fight for a cure to Type1 Juvenile Diabetes. Image below was taken at our front door, the home we built together in Tennessee.
Bonus blog by Judi Sanders Silvey
Our Hankins and Sanders families were very close knit. Family reunions were always made perfect because of the efforts that you made to clean up the picnic area on the banks of the Whippoorwill Creek on our family farm. The legendary “foot rocks” are still in place today because of your efforts to preserve them. I have often wondered about the stories of those who crossed the Whippoorwill on our foot rocks, just to gather fresh water from the spring.
Then came Meriam, and three of the most beautiful little babies I’ve ever seen. I fell in love with them, even before I met them. That love only grew stronger when you brought them through the door of my home in Bowling Green. And then began the Christmas “slumber parties” with 20 people sleeping in my house over the holiday. People and kids were everywhere. We still tell the story of one Christmas Eve on the way home from Aunt Bill and Uncle Claude McCoy’s house. I nearly ran over you when you jumped out of your van and started pointing at the sky…then three little Sanders kids jumping up and down with excitement as you explained in great detail that you had, indeed, seen Santa Clause. I also remember the Christmas that it snowed. Your kids had never seen snow. Oh, the screams, the laughs, the excitement! You were just as big of a kid as they were!
I remember the weekend that we had been cleaning up an area of the creek bank, when we heard you yelling “FOX FIRE! IT’s FOX FIRE!”. We were all wondering what crazy joke you were pulling this time, when we skidded to a halt in front of this gloriously glowing log. You were pointing to the greenish yellow glowing matter that was kind of spattered over the entire area. Again, we asked, “What did you spray out here Dale?”, for we just knew that you were pulling a joke. You finally calmed down enough to explain that Fox Fire really is a thing. And then it became a real thing. A something that we will all share for years to come. We had fox fire right there on our farm, on our creek bank. Not long afterwards, Tommy and I named our part of the farm “Fox Fire Ridge”.
Fox Fire Ridge
Through the happy times of camping, playing, and working on the farm and the creek, I’ve always loved you. Through disagreements, I never stopped loving you. We didn’t talk often, but I always knew you were there. You were just a phone call away if I needed you. Did you get on my nerves sometimes? YES. But I still loved you.
In June of 2014, we gathered at your house in Memphis for a “big announcement”. Even though I knew what the announcement would be, my emotions overflowed when you said you wanted to paddle the entire length of the Mississippi River, at 80 years old…and you wanted to do it in 80 days…and you wanted to raise funds and awareness for JDRF...in honor of Anna.
Forty-seven days later, you paddled into sight in Hannibal, Missouri. All I wanted to do is hug your neck. The following days were nothing but a blur, running up and down the Mississippi river to find campsites in flooded conditions. After a July 3rd celebration below the last lock and dam in Alton, Illinois, Big Muddy Mike changed my pride into a sense of excitement that I had only dreamed about. Paddling in the beautiful Voyageur canoe named Junebug, Big Muddy allowed me to experience a small taste of what draws you to the river. I felt an immediate sense of adrenaline when I was the first person to step onto that big ole cottonwood tree.
In Cairo, Illinois, Anna was able to come with me for a very emotional, yet short celebration. It was the precursor to your team’s entrance in Memphis. Each person who introduced themselves to me painted a picture of the great man that I have always known. Your circle of friends in Memphis is more like extended family, and for that, I am so grateful.
There are no words to describe the feeling I had when you paddled into Burras, Louisiana, with Anna standing at the dock with a cold bottle of water for you. You two were both winners in that moment in time. Both of you…heros.
I counted your paddle strokes as you pushed that last mile into the Gulf of Mexico. I watched through tears, as you struggled against the current and the wind. I knew you were determined to reach the Gulf. NOTHING was going to stop you.
While you were breaking records, and Elaine was becoming a world renowned research scientist, all I wanted to do was get married and have babies. While I have never broken records, and I’ve never been published in a medical journal, our family tree did grow. The most noteworthy of my accomplishments is the birth of two beautiful children, and three beautiful grandchildren…one being named Anna.
My world crashed down the day Anna was diagnosed. You stepped in to help bring awareness and show the world how important knowledge and research is. You brought us one step closer to finding a cure for this vicious monster we call Type 1 Diabetes. I love you Brother, and I always will, and "thank you" will never be enough.
Your baby sister,
It has been an incredible journey, with literally thousands of followers, help from hundreds of River Angels, several on water paddlers, and a ton of family support. Today, Richard Sojourner and I reached the Gulf of Mexico, 22 miles south of Venice, Louisiana at 1330. Following close behind us were Layne Logue, Austin Graham, and Dominique Lebanon.
The words of my dear friend, Papaw Richard Day summed up those last 10 miles perfectly
It was a long boat ride at slow speeds, with much bonding, fellowship and love generated. As the canoes neared the gulf, the whole group was nearby. The sisters, Judi Sanders Silvey and Elaine Bush, watched intently, as if counting down the strokes. The group became silent, very silent, the hum of the motors at almost idle speed accentuated the heart beats and the deep breathing going on. And then, Dale Sanders beaches his craft, stands in the boat - not as usual with a raised paddle and shouting - but comes up erect and then with a lean to the left, goes overboard For THE SWIM.
Congratulations goes out to Dale Sanders for paddling the entire Mississippi River at 80 years old, in 80 days, and raising over $22,000 for Juvenile Diabetes in the process... That's 2350 miles in 80 days and not in an RV... In a canoe. You have reached legendary status! -- Jonathan Brown
It's an honor to know the first 80 year old to paddle the Mississippi River source to sea for such a noble cause. Dale, you're the greatest! Remember to take the swim! -- Ellen McDonah
The weather took its toll today with one day left before reaching the Gulf of Mexico. WIND! Several times it blew my boat sideways. Took all my effort to right her back into the wind. Because of the direction traveling, it was hard to avoid whitecapping waves from spilling over the starboard bow. Couple of these whitecaps were large enough to easily swamp a small craft.
It was not supposed to be this way. We hoped to have an easy day paddling the 25 miles to a boat ramp in Venice. We planned on finishing NLT 1400. Actually didn't reach the ramp until about 1600.
Will paddle out early tomorrow morning. Wind once again predicted. Hope to be on the water by 0700. There will be four boats following me on my solo We-no-nah Wilderness 15.4 foot canoe which John Ruskey of Quapaw Canoe Company, a primary sponsor helped me acquire. I have been supposed by several other sponsors all of which are recognized on the "Sponsors" page on this website.
Hope all of you can follow this last date on SPOT Tracker. This company and their SPOT Tracker programs have been a life saver.
With evening of activity tonight coupled with the difficulties paddling today I must turn-in early and pray for a good nights sleep. I pray that tomorrow will be filled with celebrations many followers shouting cheers of joy.
All in all it has been a great ride. Good night and pleasant dreams.
The three of us, all in different boats, finally paddled out at 0900. Soon after we started paddling, Dominique began having issues with blisters from yesterday's paddle. We tried tape and glove combinations. However, with ruptured blisters on both hands, plus the heat and humidity, it soon became apparent he would not be able to keep up with paddling the miles we must navigate today. Tried changing paddling techniques, but there was nothing we could do to fix the pain and discomfort Dominique was experiencing. He hung it up for the day at mile marker 55. We are sorry to see you off the water Dom, and understand the philosophy to save energy for the final push to the Gulf of Mexico later this week.
Austin and I kept paddling and finished the planned 37 miles near mile 35, hiding the boats for the evening. We stashed them well off the river in tall foliage, down in a slough. A mosquito’s paradise.
It was SO great to see family and friends waiting river left on a gravel pile. AnnA was there with her mom and dad. Sisters Judi and Elaine. My son Jony. Don and Holly from Summer Breeze RV Park in Florida. Plus doggies Grace and Zoe. Thank you guys for locating perhaps the only place in the area where boats could be taken out. Too bad the property owner did not share our enthusiasm.
The evening was marvelous. Wonderful food. Cody had again turned on his magical powers and whipped up some incredible Cajun cookin! Thank you to all involved. All 30 or so guest were fed well.
I intend to paddle the remaining 25 miles to Venice, Louisiana tomorrow.
Plans are to board my We-no-nah Wilderness class canoe this Saturday morning for the final paddle. I intend to paddle, far down into the marshes, beyond civilized development and through the fingerlike chutes where the Mississippi River eventually dumps its waters into the Gulf of Mexico.
When I reach the end of the South Pass, I will have accomplished all I can do, fighting Juvenile Diabetes to the river’s end.
"You can't get in the water from here" she repeated over and over. I was sick. Literally, I had to squat to avoid getting nauseated. Looked like we are not leaving from here. I thought to myself, “Today we will not be able to paddle the miles necessary for us to reach Venice by Friday.” Saturday, August 15th, we MUST paddle into the Gulf for that is the only day that AnnA can be here. Sensing my angst, the police lady soon called her supervisor.
We loaded our supplies and departed AJ's house later than normal. Dominique, who was joining us from Canada, could not pick his rental canoe up until 1000. We had enjoyed our stay, so conveniently located in the French Quarters of downtown New Orleans.
Looked like it was going to be yet another hot day.
Several vehicle trips later, all of the logistics for launching two canoes and one kayak were in place. To continue the journey downstream, we needed to launch each day from the same location. We had taken out at these steps upon arrival.
The officer’s supervisor arrived. He confirmed her orders. It looked as though there was no way we would be launching from here.
After much debate on alternate locations where we could put in our paddle craft, I kindly asked if there was any way possible he could contact yet another supervisor level and see if they could make a one-time launch exception. He had no problems with doing so and thank God the approval was granted. A HUGE "Thank You" to New Orleans Port Authority and New Orleans Police Department for their cooperation and assistance!
Photos by A.J. Foret
It was after 1pm when we paddled out of New Orleans. Some 20 Miles down river, a horrendous storm forced us into the shoreline trees. The lightening was fierce. One and two seconds between flashes, and thunder everywhere. Tried to make a movie during the worst of the storm but my iPhone Six Plus and fingers were too wet for swiping.
Winds were still too strong for paddling when the storm passed. But, short on miles, we had to get moving. The winds were now blowing from directly downstream. I found myself floating sideways down a long stretch of parked barges and literally could not find a way to get the canoe headed back into the wind. Just too strong. It took what seemed like forever to float through the whitecap waves to a point where I could paddle yet another time into the eastern tree lined shore.
After several miles of hugging the east bank, we still had not found a place to camp. Now getting dark, we reached a large driftwood pile and even considered pitching tents on there. The community on the land side of the levee was also an option. I asked one of the home owners if we could camp in their backyard. We ended up camping nearby. After pitching tents, we were welcomed by one of the residents. Food was ready. They had Googled "man paddling Mississippi for Juvenile Diabetes". If I have learned anything, I must always take calling cards along when asking someone if I can camp on their back yard.
Photos from the family of Romona Treadway
Such a delightful evening with these fine folks. Was even able to dry my phone out for it had somehow leaked through the waterproof case during the storm. Problem now is it won't charge. With only 10% battery life, will now try and get this blog to Shannon Williamson for posting. Sorry folks, my photos and videos will have to come later.
Over the past four days, Austin Graham and I were able to read the water and paddled the fastest currents. We arrived in New Orleans a day ahead of expectations, which means that I will be able to pull this expedition off. At the end of Saturday, I will have paddled the Mississippi River, Source to Sea, in exactly 80 days, one day for each year of my life.
When we arrived in New Orleans yesterday, we shuttled our boats and gear to AJ Foret's home in the French Quarter. I was able to shower for the first time since we left Donna Graham’s "Camp" last Friday. What a great feeling, especially since it has been so hot these last four days.
When I dreamed up the idea of paddling the Mississippi River to raise awareness of and research funding to fight Juvenile Diabetes, I set a suggested donation goal of 8 to 80 dollars per mile. I still feel this is possible and I thank each of you for your donations, no matter how small and insignificant they may seem. May God bless each child afflicted with this awful disease. And I thank each of you for what you have given, whether that be direct donations to research, or River Angel support for making my Journey down the Mississippi River a reality.
We will paddle out tomorrow from the steps where we arrived yesterday, with a new member joining the team. Dominique from Sksgchawsm, Canada. His purpose for paddling from the wooden steps her in New Orleans is a true story worthy of being told.
Bonus Blog Entry (by Shannon Williamson)
Often, Dale's blogs take a more "serious" tone, so it wasn't always appropriate to use some of the funny pictures or videos that he sent to me for editing. So, here's some good ole GBA humor for ya...goofy, cheesy, wonderfully funny Dale! Hope you enjoy the laughs as much as I have!
Shannon (Dale's niece)
Watch to the END!
And, on a more serious note, here's some words from a follower. She perfectly sums up what I have been feeling about Dale's expedition.
Along the way of this journey, many examples have been set.
When passing by large crafts, the worst is their followed waves, waves generated far behind the vessel. I find it difficult to paddle close to the shorelines because once the big swells reach the shallows they broke, sometimes exceptionally high and over a small crafts forward bow.
I have come to the conclusion the safest place to paddle, at least through the busy industrial waters of the south Mississippi, is right down the charted channel. The tug boat Skippers tend to criticize that decision and have asked, more than once, for me to paddle close to the shore line. We have a marine radio and monitor the tug boat skippers chatter. I cannot comply in most cases, for fear of not being un-seen and consequently the larger craft not slowing down as they tend to do when I paddle in the charted channels. Also, there is no way we would be in New Orleans today, a day earlier than planned, had Austin and I stuck to paddling the shoreline through slow waters where the big eddies swirl.
Some more personal notes from today’s paddle are on my heart and need to be said. Trixie Pocket, although not home herself, the neighbors were there awaiting, shouting and shooting bottle rockets and welcomed us with open arms with food, ice cold water, and all. Thank you also goes to Robyn Bordelon who was planning to paddle with us tomorrow. With the unfortunate issues associated with fast waters, her plans changed, so she met us at the wooden steps in New Orleans, with sandwiches, cold drinks, a truck and a big hug. River Angels like Robyn are a paddler's dream.
A group of people awaited my arrival at the steps downtown New Orleans. There were two individuals I noticed specifically on the bottom step next to the water’s edge. It was Robyn and AJ Foret. I have not met either in person, but AJ and I have been Facebook friends for years. His presence made the emotional adrenalin flow. We are now staying at his home. Two nights without heat and mosquitoes, what a relief! Before dinner, went for a short walk through the nearby French Quarter and now, I must now sleep.
Our campsite last night was perfect. Got a much needed good night’s rest.
After breakfast, Austin and I discussed paddle strategies over a cup of New Orleans style coffee given to me by John Ruskey. Delicious, but we had to figure out how to paddle these waters and share them with the big ships.
As we paddled out, we almost immediately had to maneuver around several large vessels that were selecting their routes based on efficiency and without regard to the channel markers. Barges and tugs are all over the place. Fortunately, the seagoing vessels tend to predictable stay in the channels, otherwise paddling the Mississippi in these flood state waters would virtually be impossible.
The big ones don't scare me. It's the massive waves left behind from the upcoming vessels that cause me the greatest concern. This is especially true with the large freighters. Austin and I would like to video them, but truthfully, we must keep both hands on the paddle to safely pass through. Maybe we can rig something with tape so I can mount a camera on my head.
Sat outside the tent, letting it cool down long as I could, until the mosquitoes were so bad that I had to go inside…no matter how hot. Figured I could deal with the heat better by stripping down to my shorts. I had earlier left the screens unzipped to get the air flowing. That was another mistake.
Tomorrow, we will attempt to reach New Orleans a day earlier than expected. If Austin and I can paddle that fast through these waters, I can take my 11th, "0" miles paddled, day of rest. If I can take one more "0" day, reaching the "Gulf of Mexico in 80 days" could become a reality.
We were running low on water, so Austin plotted a course to Donaldsonville, Louisiana.
After departing our "Creative Campsite" for last night, the wind started billowing as we rounded the first bend. Was different paddling. Determined to paddle at least 35 miles today, Austin and I pressed on. I would soon reach the mark of the 2000th mile paddled on this trip.
Beginning to understand the meaning of "Industry" as the amount of commercial activity on the river increases daily. We can manage the constant need to modify our planned routes for safe passage. The turbulent waters left behind by the massive ships is our biggest challenge. Hove noticed though, if I communicate with my Marine radio, the Skippers are doing what they can to help with safe passage. Just so many barges, tugs and ships it's hard to communicate with all of them.
High waters have blocked entrance to the boat ramp with acres of log jams. We must get water here. With no way to reach the town boat ramp, we had to find passage through the flooded forest and pull the boats up on the concrete reinforced levee. Once on the other side, a nice couple that gave us ice water. Would like to thank them but didn't get their name.
Had ice water with dinner last night. A rare treat indeed. As Austin said "you know when you have been on the river too long when you drink ice water for desert".