Isle Royale National Park Canoe Trip

Here I am, standing on Ryan Island which is the largest island on Siskiwit Lake, which is the largest lake on Isle Royale, which is the largest island on Lake Superior, which is the largest lake on the “island” called North America.

Isle Royale National Park (interior lakes) is a fun canoe trip, long easy portages, great wild flowers, good animal sightings – 3 moose, many beaver, otters, turtles laying eggs, swans, loons, eagles. Continue reading

Naked and Safe


Today, camped beside the Rio Grande in the depths of Bouquillas Canyon, I am only a stone’s toss from Mexico. Although I could not be much further from the BWCAW and still be in the United States, I am feeling the same solitude and safety that I experience in the boundary water’s wilderness so far to the north. What I crave and what I search for and find in wild places around the globe is the same. It is safety. In the city, suburbs, even when surrounded by cows or acres of corn in the countryside, I feel crowded, off-kilter, and as if I do not belong. In wilderness, wherever the lure of adventure draws me, I feel my inner source, my true calling. Only the climate, landscape, vegetation and wildlife changes. … Continue reading

Fishing Season is Upon Us, get the LEAD out. Do You Enjoy Loons? How About Swans?

The following was written by  Carpenter Nature Center Education Intern Annabelle Barr

Lead sinkers are commonplace and traditional in fishing, but research over the past couple decades has revealed that lead tackle has devastating effects on wildlife. Waterbirds, especially loons and swans, have taken the hardest hit from these poisonous sinkers. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency references two long-term studies that found that lead poisoning was the cause of death in about 25% of adult loons. Another study from Canada in 1998 reported that 23% of loons died from lead poisoning, and that 125 to 187 million lead sinkers are left in Canadian waters annually. These waterbirds often ingest the sinkers when swallowing small pebbles to help grind their food, and after ingesting the lead, the bird will show physical and behavioral symptoms that impair its ability to fly and make it more vulnerable to predators. The birds often die … Continue reading

Upcoming Paddlesport Events

I was remiss in not promulgating Canoecopia in Madison last March, and Midwest Mountaineering’s Adventure Expo, last April. I presented my “Tips from a Thousand Trips” and “Planning A Far North Canoe Trip” at both those shows. Many of my blog readers and past crew on my expeditions came down front and said hello. It’s always good to connect and reconnect, and the shows are fun, but if I have my druthers, I would rather be in the stern of a canoe than behind a podium. That said, I will be presenting at two upcoming shows and these shows are a little different in both size and location than the big city expos. Both are in the heart of canoe country and combine some possible paddling time with presentations. Being smaller creates easier space and extra time for more focused dialog and storytelling: The Great American Canoe Festival June 10-11 … Continue reading

Rob at 65

Last year, I remember commenting that on my sixty-fourth birthday I had one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. Another year has passed and I am still standing and still feeling strong.  Amazing, especially considering that bull elephant in Tanzania.

On my birthday I would like to wish all my friends and family, new and old, fine health and good cheer. Those that follow my blog at thanks for your support. Those that were crew on my expeditions this year, thanks for being partners on our journeys together. Student leaders that opened their hearts in our circles together, bless you and bless the benevolent teachers who believe in you.

Sixty-five is a watershed year I guess, and although I will be grateful for the discount at Dennys, I have no plans to loosen my grip on the paddle, pen or podium. I still have … Continue reading


In Moab, just off a 120-mile canoe trip down the Green River from the town of the same name to its confluence with the Colorado River. The Green was a tame river even at 15,000 cfs (floodstage). Not sure where it got the name “Green” as it was perhaps the siltiest river I have ever paddled, but because the river was so high there was no mud on the banks. The landings were dry. Submerged willows and deadheads in the swift, flood-swollen river convinced me to stay focused when landing the “Spirit of Quinn” my faithful Royalex Wenonah. The scenery is incredible, unworldly, magnificent. Towering sandstone cliffs and phallic hoodoos delighted me. A giant’s pallet could not hold all the hues of reddish brown, and at sunset the canyons dripped with changing colors. Side canyons made for stunning hikes. Because of the high water some of the slots could be … Continue reading


Just finished Canoecopia. It was great to see so many dear friends including crews from the Arctic, Boundary Waters, and the Rio Grande. Nothing seems to bond people like a canoe expedition. It’s more than the adventure; maybe it’s the vulnerability or the shared toil. I cannot explain it, but I am blessed with so many wonderful friends and I loved seeing them even if I was strung-out from the 1500 mile drive in two days from the Rio Grande.

Several people asked me hopefully if I would be guiding Zambezi River trips next year. I have been mum on the blog about my Zambezi experience and for good reasons. Is the Zambezi incredible? Absolutely. A huge flow, drops like I have never before experienced, crocs slithering into the river like a Tarzan movie, African river guides that I quickly grew to love. But, I think it’s one and done … Continue reading

That Dog Sammy, We Meet Again

I know I am way behind with my Blog and people have been clamoring for more Africa stories especially the Zambezi River trip, Rio Grande updates, and more; however a singular event occurred last night that pushed this take to the the top of the pile.

Last February 17, I blogged about “That Dog Sammy” the toughest Yorkie in Texas. Well last night I was walking across the parking lot of Terlingua’s Starlight Theater with a can of beer in my hand and a hankering for some West Texas brisket when I saw that same Yorkie dragging his glowing penlight flashlight which dangled from his collar through the dirt and stirring ups cloud of dust.

My scream, “That’s Sammy!” is all it took for his cowboy sidekick to start a three minute soliloquy. Apparently, earlier that day, blind, dumb, deaf, mute, Sammy had fallen down an old abandoned mine shaft … Continue reading

Back from two months in Africa

Back from two months in Africa. Completed a harrowing river trip on the Zambezi, toured several national parks in South Africa, Botswana and Tanzania. I will write more later but I thought readers may enjoy my wildlife tally.  The wildlife in Africa is truly astonishing.  Anyone that calls Yellowstone America’s Serengeti has never been to the Serengeti.  We worked hard getting into the parks before sundown and staying till closing and we had amazing guides, but the wildlife viewing was almost beyond belief. At any moment you can watch dramas unfold all around you. Clicking off 145 lions…. 40,000 Wildebeest…. 22 Cheetahs…. flabbergasting. The stalks, the chases, the kills and the scavengers, it was as if I was living inside of a National Geographic film. Africa is also the most expensive place I have ever traveled. I came home 2 weeks early flat broke, but with a smile on my … Continue reading