"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Canoe books for when "our journeys choose us"

Four books for those of you who want to explore modern travelers in a canoe:

Goodbye to a River, by John Graves. This Texas author took his canoe and his Dashund down the Brazos river on a several days journey before it was dammed up many years ago. Terrific first hand account of a writer immersed in the lore of our area. In paperback.

The Survival of the Bark Canoe, by John McPhee. My favorite writer--an old "new" journalist, finds a guy in New Hampshire who still makes birch bark canoes, and travels with him 150 miles north into Maine. McPhee is an avid canoeer, living in New Jersey. he also writes about a trip in Alaska down the Yukon in Coming Into The Country. He's written prolifically on a wide range of topics for the New Yorker, and also teaches a class on writing at Princeton, called The Literature of Fact. Both books in paperback.

The Cruelest Journey by Kira Salak, a woman's 600-mile solo journey in an inflatable kayak down the Niger from Old Segou to Tombouctou (English version--Timbuktu) in Mali. A journey no woman has done before, one that claimed the life of a Scottish explorer 200 years ago. This interested me after I visited Mali two years ago and my life changed.

Two quotes: "Though we may think we choose our journeys, they choose us."

"But the Niger is more than a river, it is a kind of faith. Bent and plied by Saharan sands, it perseveres more than 2,600 miles from beginning to end through one of the hottest, most desolate regions of the world."


  1. I have enjoyed perusing your blog. Good stuff! Take care.

  2. Back for a second look...wanted to let you know I was in N.C. Wyeth's art studio, where he painted all of his hundreds of illustrations. (A spiritual experience!) His illustrations were actually huge, full-sized paintings. In his studio, was a white birch canoe hanging from the rafters. He used it to look at when he had to paint one in his illustrations.


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