Friday, July 20, 2007

One Of My Favorite Stories

I recently finished rereading one my favorite books (again): Paddle to the Amazon. I absolutely love this book! On June 1st 1980, Don Starkell along with his two sons embarked on an epic canoe trip from Winnipeg, Manitoba to the mouth of the Amazon river. The trip took them two years and it is an absolute miracle that they survived it! Their odyssey took them to the edge of their endurance and beyond. "If we'd known we were going to make it, the challenge would not have been the same - we might not have gone. If we'd know what lay ahead, we certainly would not have gone." So begins the journey that would end with the record broken for the longest journey ever made by canoe.

Twelve thousand miles is a long way to paddle. Along the way they were arrested, shot at, taken for spies, and set upon my pirates. The sea, food poisoning, and starvation almost killed them as well. The cool thing about this book is that it's just a guy from Winnipeg with his sons going on a crazy canoe trip. Because it starts in my own back yard (Winnipeg), it feels so real. The books is quite readable and is divided up by journal entries for their days. Maps show their progress. You also get an insiders view on the incredible tension this kind of trip puts on a family and wonder if you could handle it. Paddle to the Amazon is a book about canoeing, family, luck, finding oneself, and the beauty/depravity of man. I highly recommend it (4.8 ninja stars out of five).

Recently I found that there is a documentary available on the trip which I'm hoping to procure. If I get it, I'll have a "Paddling Party" and all who are interested are invited! Here's the trailer:



May Light increase!

6 comments:

rod said...

Years ago I volunteered to serve on the PAC of our local school. There were a great number of improvements we wanted to make to the environment in which our kids spent a good deal of their lives but money was scarce. We decided to hold a fundraiser coffee night featuring a dynamic, in-the-news kind of speaker who would be a good draw. Having just read Paddle to the Arctic I suggested Don Starkell. Naturally, I was "volunteered" to contact him. Expecting a gruff, off-putting type of person, considering the personality type required to accomplish the things he had done, I was delighted to find him to be easygoing and friendly, putting me at ease at once. Well, he spoke at our little fundraiser, we had a great turnout and actually made a nice little profit , even after paying his fee. I went up to Don afterwards and spoke with him briefly, coming away assured that he was a genuine caring, compassionate man with a real story to tell.
I have read Amazon as well - what a tale! I think you would love Arctic.

Dayna said...

i just finished reading Paddle to the Amazon this week. all these years i've heard about it so i figured i should read it for myself. i'm not really a very adventurous person, but i really enjoyed reading about the starkell's adventures. just before i finished reading it i went canoeing down beaver creek and i kept on thinking about the hazards, etc. of their trip and the simplicity and tranquility of mine...

blessings,
dayna

Mark said...

Rod: That's cool that you met him! He sounds like a really interesting guy, I hope to meet him myself someday (as well as his son Dana). It appears the documentary is still in production, so I will let you know when it is released. And yes, I've read Paddle to the Arctic as well, an excellent read (as well as Kabloona in the Yellow Kayak, Starkell's travelling companion's view of the trip).

Mark said...

Dayna, you read Paddle To The Amazon?? I'm so impressed!! Seriously, I hold you at a whole new level of respect. You are awesome!
-Mark

Lee said...

wow - from Winnipeg? Amazing! Do you own this book? Can I borrow it if you do?

Mark said...

Hi Lee. I would lend it to you in heartbeat (always glad to give others the chance to read outdoor adventure books), but I just leant in out last night to my friend Jay (who also read about it on this blog). However, you welcome to read it when he's done . . .