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Man's cross country canoe journey connects him to the past

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Posted at 3:57 PM, Jul 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-05 17:57:47-04

CINCINNATI, Ohio (WCPO) -- A modern-day Huckleberry Finn on a cross-country canoe journey spent Saturday night in Cincinnati, reflecting on the 16 months he’s spent traversing the United States by water and the six still in front of him before he finishes.

Writer Neal Moore started paddling his canoe in Oregon’s Columbia River and plans to end at Lady Liberty in New York Harbor. It’s a trip, he said, that connects him with the country’s past and helps him understand the journeys undertaken by earlier Americans.

“I think it’s a really unique way to experience this great land,” he said. “The canoe was the first mode of transport. These rivers were the very first thoroughfares.”

His route will cover 7,500 miles by its end. In his canoe, Moore stores a tent, a sleeping bag, clothes, food, an extra paddle, and emergency supplies.

He can swim, too, if the canoe capsizes — he swam lanes in the open ocean before setting out to ensure he could do it. And he has wheels to get around dams, but he’s focused on emulating the experience of other travelers in the country’s past.

“It’s really interesting for me to understand that there are people, there are adventurers and people who have come before,” he said. “And the beautiful part is there will be people who come after.”

On his holiday break from the journey, Moore plans to celebrate the Fourth of July at Great American Ball Park. Cincinnati is just a stop along the road, he said, but it’s one that he’s excited to visit.

“To see the Reds stadium here and the skyline, it’s just remarkable,” he said. “The history that’s here, the people, the characters, the grit. I’m just excited to explore and celebrate.”

This story originally reported by Evan Millward on WCPO.com.