In part 1, I spoke about research and preparation in order to write about a river. I talked about reading books and talking to people who know their watershed. Other methods of research in preparing for a river trip include fun things like learning what gear to take.
On the Hudson River, I needed a long canoe for long distances and big water. On the Erie Canal I needed a shorter, faster, more tippy canoe. This was something I discovered as I began to learn about the waterway I'd chosen to travel and to write about. In preparation for my Mississippi trip this past September, I checked the internet and found all kinds of information, right here at Rivers of Life, for example. I also found two people who had canoed the entire river, and I contacted them via Email. Then we spoke on the phone. They gave me excellent advice, and I even hooked up with one of the Mississippi paddlers in New Orleans. He helped me with some photography, and he gave me some river facts I did not know before.
Now the journey.
I often call the journey itself
"research." An adventure down a river is learning, exploring,
Journals are ways of recording
one's firsthand research. The river journal I keep will form the
My research on the expedition is intense. From the moment I wake at four or five in the morning to the moment I fall asleep after a long day of hard travel, I keep my eyes and ears open. I value curiosity, and I ask a ton of questions. Anything I learn that I think might be useful later, I write down in my journal. Or, more accurately, I speak into a microphone.
These days I make my notes with a tape recorder. Notebooks, I have discovered, get awfully wet in the rain and the spray of whitewater. I have returned from river trips with notebooks I can not read. So a few years ago I started to use a micro-cassette recorder, which I store in a waterproof pouch around my neck. (Buying just the right pouch is part of my preparation for a journey.)
for Global Environmental Education