(Correne Coetzer) Dave Freeman and his wife Amy are in the middle of a 3-year, 11,700 mile journey across North America by canoe, kayak and dogsled. They started on April 22, 2010 in Bellingham, Washington and will finish in April, 2013 in Key West Florida.
The couple has currently made it as far as Grand Portage, Minnesota, from where they will continue their next kayak stage on May 7 across Lake Superior.
Dave talks to ExWeb about being a husband-and-wife team out there doing adventures, the mission of this journey, and why they sometimes use kayaks and other times canoes.
ExplorersWeb: How long have you and your wife being doing trips together?
Dave: I went on my first extended trip into the wilderness in 2001. I met Amy in 2005 and our first big trip together was a kayak circumnavigation of Lake Superior in 2006. In 2007 and 2008 we completed a 3,000 mile journey across South America by bicycle and canoe.
On Earth Day, 2010 we started our current project, the North American Odyssey. We got married shortly before embarking on this 3 year, 11,700 mile trek. Some days we call it our honeymoon, but other days it feels like a lot of work.
ExplorersWeb: Why do you make a good team?
Dave: I think Amy and I have similar personalities. We are both pretty easy going, but when we set a goal we work steadily to achieve it. We also have similar skill sets and tolerate similar levels of risk.
I think undertaking an extremely long project like ours lends its self well to a couple because we are living out our life together just like we would at home.
We work hard to maintain our relationship because there is a lot more than a successful "expedition" at stake. We have our whole life together to think about.
ExplorersWeb: What is the mission of this three year journey?
Dave: Our goal is to use our journey as a platform for gaining support and protection for North America’s waterways, and actively engage over 100,000 elementary and middle school students in their journey though this website and live school assemblies. So far we have over 70,000 students following our journey and we are adding new classrooms every day.
During our final 5,000 mile leg from Lake Superior to Key West, Florida we plan to give over 50 presentations at schools, libraries, outdoor stores and other businesses.
We have had the privilege of exploring some of North America's wildest places and we feel obligated to share our story and hope to inspire others to follow their dreams and protect our waterways and wild places.
ExplorersWeb: What are the attraction and challenges of The Great Lakes?
Dave: The Great Lakes are an amazing natural resource and offer some world class places to paddle.
Lake Superior's north shore contains some of spectacular and wild stretches. When we paddled around Superior in 2006 we were racing the on coming winter. This time we plan to take our time and document our journey along this wild coastline. Lake Superior is like an ocean and its average temperature is 42°F (5.5°C). It can produce some great surf and it always demands respect.
ExplorersWeb: What was the best so far?
Dave: It is hard to pick a favorite moment. Paddling with Humpback Whales in Alaska, running the wild rapids of Peel River in the Yukon, and dogsledding across Great Bear Lake in the Northwest Territories are a few of my favorites.
ExplorersWeb: You use kayaks and canoes. When do you decide to use canoe/kayak?
Dave: In general we are using our Current Designs Solstice GT and GTS kayaks on the Ocean and through the Great Lakes because kayaks excel in big water and allow us to paddle in wind and wave conditions that would leave us waiting on shore with our canoe.
We used canoes in the middle of our journey when we were traveling on lakes and rivers with lots of portages. Canoes are much easier to portage and can carry a lot of gear.
When we started our last 5 month section from Great Slave Lake in the North West Territories we entered a large roadless area and had 42 days of food with us, plus a 104 pound sled dog. Our 19 foot Wenonah Itasca still had 6 inches of free board.
[Ed note: check in again for an interview with Amy. Also keep an eye out for their updates in ExWeb’s Live Dispatch Feeds.]
Remaining Project Timeline
Grand Portage, Minnesota to Montreal, Quebec
April 15th to July 1st, 2012
1,300 miles by kayak
Montreal, Quebec to Key West, Florida
July 2nd, 2012 to March 1st, 2013
Montreal to Saint John, NB 1,000 miles
Saint John to New York City 850 miles
New York City to Key West 1,750 miles
3,600 miles by kayak
Total estimated mileage:
Kayak: 6,300 miles
Canoe: 3,524 miles
Dogsled: 1,800 miles
Backpack: 123 miles
Total: 11,747 miles
Dave Freeman biography courtesy of their website:
The Wilderness Classroom was born in the winter of 2001 during Dave’s Border Country Adventure—a 6-week, 240 mile, solo toboggan trek along the Minnesota/Ontario border. Using a laptop computer and Globalstar Satellite phone, Dave posted journals, photos, and other educational resources, connecting with classrooms across the country. During the last seven years he has played a vital role in the development and implementation of 10 online expeditions with the Wilderness Classroom.
Dave does it all, from planning and executing expeditions to maintaining our website. Each year Dave conducts many school assemblies, introducing students to our online expeditions and familiarizing them with the wilderness locations we explore. He graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with BA in Biology and Anthropology. Dave is also a Web master, programmer, and wilderness guide. He has worked as a dogsledding, sea kayaking, and canoeing instructor for 15 years, introducing hundreds of people to wilderness travel.
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