The Expedition

IN THESE MIDST OF THESE “UNCHARTED WATERS,” adventurer/storyteller Neal Moore is taking journalism slow and low down from the view of a canoe.

To listen, and document, and connect.

In search of how rivers connect all the way across America, as well as how communities connect, how we can come together as a nation. To explore the ties that bind us together.

To take up the fight for the sacred Columbia River salmon, step in stride with an ex-offender upon release from prison, and crouch down low with a hobo on the tracks, train in sight, that whistle bell a’blowin’.

To come face to face with America’s soul.

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“A modern-day Huck Finn” — CNN

From February 2020 until December 2021, Neal is going the distance in a continuous storytelling expedition from Astoria, Oregon on the Pacific Coast to Lady Liberty at New York City. 22 rivers, 22 states, and 7,500 miles (in a canoe).

Current Location: THE TENNESSEE-TOMBIGBEE WATERWAY

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Neal’s 7,500-mile interactive canoe route across America: https://bit.ly/3fhvOyI

The route 

Act One: To the Great Divide (COMPLETE): We’re heading for the continental divide during a time when our nation is truly divided. It’s up the Columbia, the Snake, and the Clark Fork rivers to MacDonald Pass in Montana – all upstream and uphill, 1,078 miles. It was a struggle, but Neal completed this first phase of the expedition in 97 days!

Act Two: To the Big Easy (COMPLETE): It was 3,599 river miles and an 8-month paddle down the Missouri, up and down the Mississippi (with a side jaunt up and down the Ohio to see Paducah thrown in), dodging acres of barges, 1,000 foot tankers, swirling eddies, and the Chain of Rocks to the French Quarter, New Orleans.

Act Three: To Lady Liberty: It’s a long, tortuous route of 2,890 river and portage miles to Lady Liberty at the edge of the Atlantic, which Neal reckons will take 12 months. We’ve got to skirt the Gulf Coast in open, often treacherous water, paddle up the Mobile, Tombigbee, and Tenn-Tom waterways, down the Tennessee, up the Ohio, up and down the Kentucky and the Kanawha, then up the Allegheny and the Chadakoin. From Lake Chautauqua, it’ll be uphill and downhill for days over Old Portage Road to Lake Erie. Then it’s the Erie Canal, the Seneca, the Oneida, the Mohawk and at last, the Hudson, to see and know what has always made America great[!] 

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Neal will be canoeing, surviving, reporting and celebrating.

Expert canoeists have died on the rivers Neal will be navigating. While he does not intend to do that, make no mistake, this is a risky endeavor that involves paddling and hauling a solo canoe 7,500 miles in bright sun and harm’s way – in and on and alongside the rivers of these United States.

Multiple obstacles include, but are not limited to: river traffic (pleasure boats, ferries, dredgers, acres of barges pushed by tows, container ships, and mammoth oil tankers), far too many locks and dams, crushing rapids, swirling eddies, sunken rocks, submerged trees, freak waves on major lakes, and the stormy, open sea.

Other risks are related to these dangers, one way or another. Beyond navigating through the Covid-19 pandemic, the weather, which can be unpredictable, can also be challenging. A big flood season, hurricane, or other severe weather, could make one or more of the 22 rivers and waterways Neal will ply un-navigable for a time, or season.

Because Neal will be paddling in association with reporting, there will likewise be delays as he stumbles upon stories, as he solar charges his batteries and edits his videos and drinks his camp-brewed coffee. So the schedule and routing for the “22 Rivers Project” canoe expedition has to remain flexible.

Neal will be fighting to get to these stories. Together, we’ll gain a unique insight that we can share with everybody who cares not only for America, but of the global community at large.