Canoeing the Great Plains


Canoeing the Great Plains

A Missouri River Summer

Patrick Dobson

208 pages


May 2015


$24.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

May 2015


$24.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

May 2015


$24.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Tired of an unfulfilling life in Kansas City, Missouri, Patrick Dobson left his job and set off on foot across the Great Plains. After two and a half months, 1,450 miles, and numerous encounters with the people of the heartland, Dobson arrived in Helena, Montana. He then set a canoe on the Missouri and asked the river to carry him safely back to Kansas City, hoping this enigmatic watercourse would help reconnect him with his life.
In Canoeing the Great Plains, Dobson recounts his journey on the Missouri, the country’s longest river. Dobson, a novice canoeist when he begins his trip, faces the Missouri at a time of dangerous flooding and must learn to trust himself to the powerful flows of the river and its stark and serenely beautiful countryside. He meets a cast of characters along the river who assist him both with the mundane tasks of canoeing—portaging around dams and reservoirs and finding campsites—and with his own personal transformation. Mishaps, mistakes, and misadventures plague his trip, but over time the river shifts from being a frightening adversary to a welcome companion.
As the miles float by and the distinctions blur between himself and what he formerly called nature, Dobson comes to grips with his past, his fears, and his life beyond the river.

Author Bio

Patrick Dobson is a writer, historian, and ironworker with a PhD in history. He is the author of Seldom Seen: A Journey into the Great Plains (Nebraska, 2009).


"[Canoeing the Great Plains is] an absorbing travelogue and a candid, introspective story of one man’s search to find himself."—Missouri Historical Review

“Like our best travel writers—Bryson, Heat Moon, Strayed, and Frazier come to mind—Dobson is good company: irreverent, funny, wise.”—Greg Martin, associate professor of English at the University of New Mexico and author of Mountain City and Stories for Boys

“Part travelogue, part social commentary, Dobson narrates a gritty and multidimensional tale, even as his descriptions of the landscape and the river are as warm as the summer sun. It was a journey I didn’t want to end.”—Sandra Moran, anthropologist and award-winning author of Letters Never Sent and Nudge

“This is a work of strength and beauty, of care and courage. Patrick Dobson’s voyage down the length of the Missouri River is not simply one of self-discovery, but a journey that allows the reader to look inward as well. . . . We are fortunate to be able to share in his odyssey of exuberance and discovery.”—Alan Boye, author of Just Walking the Hills of Vermont and Sustainable Compromises

Table of Contents

1. Doomed                                                     
2. Drunkenness, Fear, and Determination     
3. Your Friend, the River                               
4. Life Preserver                                             
5. Carless                                                        
6. Medicine River                                          
7. A Speck in the Landscape                         
8. Spirits of the Dead                                     
9. Cheap Cigars                                              
10. Oaths and Vulgarities                              
11. Staying in Motion                                    
12. Owl Headdress                                        
13. Doris                                                        
14. A Startling Leap                                      
15. Rather Be Fishing                                    
16. The Toughest Part                                    
17. Home but not Home                                
18. Epilogue                                                  


2016 High Plains Book Award in Creative Nonfiction

2016 Thorpe Menn Literary Excellence Award

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