Why are we going on these rivers? Why not travel north to pristine waters with miles of unspoiled wilderness? One, because these rivers are our home. Two, because as we age our world expands and we often overlook the things at our feet that afford us the most wonder. And three, we want to make these rivers more accessible to everyone.
Growing up we are taught of the planet around us, the fantastic biodiversity of the rain forests and the massive migrations on the African plains. We learn about behemoths of the oceans and the oddest evolutionary contraptions that roam Australia. In school we are expected to retain this knowledge of animals we may never see in our lifetime. It seems paradoxical that the ecosystem that made our current civilization possible is now lost to many peoples everyday life. How can we expect to be participants of the world when we don’t know what is out our backdoor? Perhaps we were taught once of the local ecosystems but in a world of new opportunities at every moment they are left shadowed.
These new opportunities of modern life have seem to have us feeling that we must always expand in new ways, travel further, and do new things. What stops us from exploring deeper underneath our very feet? We do not have to travel great distances to find the wild. Yes, the land around southern Michigan is “discovered” but do you know what lies over the next hill? How many streams, creeks, or rivers do you drive over to get to the nearest town? Knowing what lies between you and a place near or far reveals your connection to the land and in turn gives you a sense of place. A better understanding is reached of how an event happening in any location affects where you are. We cannot to learn to appreciate the cost of destroying rain forests if we do not appreciate our own forests. Knowing the land that sustains us has other benefits too.
In a world of of more and more mass produced goods, the natural world is a place of infinite variety that never lacks for creativeness, adaptability, humility, and other traits. When every inch of the outside is unique, what is keeping us from expounding on our childish wonder at the world out our backdoor? It’s true, our journey will give us few, if any, scenic vistas and no awe inspiring mountains will greet us. No pristine forests will buffer us from the “real” world. We are following these rivers to learn about the beauty of our home and our place in the bigger picture as we humans forge ahead with the planet and a hopefully better idea of our role on it. Michigan is so much larger than the pavement we so often stick ourselves to. By rediscovering our home by water, every tree shaded river bend reminds us of our purpose, creating a better world for the next generation.
We are starting June 7th at Sterling State Park in Monroe. Join us that morning with your own vessel and help us start the trip off right! You can also meet up with us later on any stretch for as long as you like. See you soon!