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MY PADDLE TO THE SEA by John Lane

MY PADDLE TO THE SEA

Eleven Days on the River of the Carolinas

By John Lane

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8203-3977-1
Publisher: Univ. of Georgia

A meditative account of a 300-mile float trip to the sea, from South Carolina's Broad River to the Intercoastal Waterway north of Charleston.

Just three months before, Lane (English and Environmental Studies/Wofford Coll.; Chattooga: Descending into the Myth of Deliverance River, 2004, etc.) had taken his family on an adventure trip to Costa Rica. Unfortunately, the trip ended under conditions of exceptionally high water, several canoes capsized and the guide and one other kayaker drowned. The author explains that starting out on another boating trip was a way for him to come to accept the painful truth that “mistakes and surprises are often what form a memorable journey, but they're also what make for tragedies.” Lane was joined on the different legs of the journey by friends. For much of the time, the weather was unseasonably wet, but this did not diminish the adventurers’ enthusiasm. Throughout the trip, the author muses about the historical ruins they encounter, such as an old grist mill and the old canal that was closed to barge traffic 150 years ago; he compares them to the six power dams that they pass. Exploring the past as he travels peacefully down the river, Lane has an important realization: “A river trip that I was imagining as a journey, an adventure, had been, only two hundred years earlier, as common as a road trip on a present-day interstate highway.”

A final arduous paddle against the tide takes the author to a successful conclusion of this low-key spiritual adventure.