The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Pittsburg man paddles Ohio to Cairo

  • Ian Davis began his canoe trip from Pittsburg, Pa., June 1 and hopes to end Sept. 15 in Cairo.
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  • Ian Davis, 52, lives near Pittsburg, Pa., in a town named Green Tree.
    He teaches and dreams full time.
    HIs mission is to teach young people to be "world class communicators."
    He hires out to schools and individual parents to guide students to that goal. Public schools hire him, some private schools and some parents, as well. To raise funds for the non-profit he established to support his teaching efforts he decided to get in a canoe this summer and, with his dog Gracie, paddle and camp the Ohio River from Pittsburg, Pa., to Cairo. That trip is the entire 981 mile length of the river.
    He has been sharing his experiences with Facebook friends the whole time. He now has 1,300 likes and many, many friends on Facebook.
    The beginning of the Ohio is at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers in the city of Pittsburg, Pa.
    On June 1, 2013 he put in the river at mile 1. On Sept. 5 he was in Bay City, at mile 911.
    He was delayed by the need to transfer his data from an old Iphone to a new one. The process was slower than he had hoped. The iPhone is both his camera and connection to his Facebook page.
    During a telephone interview he described some of his experiences as the data was transferring to his new phone.
    His most memorable meeting and conversation was with 80 something Bill Seel June 23 on Seel's front porch in Little Hocking, Ohio.
    "He had invited me over for morning coffee the night before and I showed up with Gracie at 7 a.m.," he said.
    Seel has had two wives who had died.
    "He talked most about his first wife. She had died from rheumatoid arthritis. During the last months of her life she was in so much pain he couldn't touch her without causing pain. She took lots of pain medication to make her life bearable but in the end the medication killed her," Davis said.
    Seel has a new honey now.
    "I have found that if people are transparent with each other and get to the real issues in life, they become friends very quickly," he said.
    He was shot at on a river island near Owensboro, Ky.
    "These guys in a boat just started popping off in my direction. I heard the bang and then the whizz of the bullets. I screamed at them to stop and they did. They were just being idiots," he said.
    His dog is a bit of a celebrity now with his Facebook friends. She gets a lot of attention at every landing where he has made arrangements to meet some local Facebook friend. Gracie is a 10.5 month old Brittany with a lot of charm.
    Page 2 of 2 - "I had two other reasons for making the trip," said Davis. "It's just a crazy over-the-top adventure and secondly it is a way of honoring the canoe's original owner, David Burt. He died in a car accident at age 18 in 1966 before he could realize his own dreams regarding the canoe. I am sort of doing this for him."
    Davis said when he was shopping for a canoe in 2011 Burt's sister responded to the ad he had placed in the newspaper and said she had a wooden, Maine-built canoe under canvas in her barn.
    "I took a look at it and it was in near mint condition. It had been built in Old Towne, Maine, in 1962 and Burt had bought it. He and a friend used it during 1964 and 1965 but they had plans for some longer trips. They both died together in a traffic accident April 16, 1966, according to Burt's sister. So this is sort of a continuation of Burt's plans for the canoe," Davis said.
    "Burt was a real adventurous kid. He went to Canada, alone, when he was 16 in order to learn how to run a trap line. The border patrol thought he was running away from home," said Davis.
    In 1966 his sister put it in the barn and covered it with canvas.
    "That's how I found it. There were a few cracked ribs in it but I replaced them and then had it completely restored before I started this trip," Davis said.
    Davis plans to end his journey Sept. 17.
    His Facebook page is facebook.com/thepointtocairo.
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