From the print edition of the “Alton Telegraph” in Alton, Illinois. You can view the movie of this trip here

altontelegraph

An incredible Standup Paddle Board adventure on the Mississippi River from Alton Illinois to the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. A trip through the large locks in Alton, and great conversation with fisherman at the notorious “Chain of Rocks”. All the while on the lookout for Flying Asian Carp.

Millions of dead Tilapia, dried-up animals everywhere, and a community that time forgot–this is the Salton Sea! The people and community make this desert wasteland in California one of the most unique and wonderful places on earth!

An unforgettable Standup Paddle adventure along Antelope and Egg Islands on the Great Salt Lake in Utah.

A SUP adventure through Ebey and Steamboat Slough in Marysville and Everett, Washington. Trip took place on March 15, 2014.

The Commencement Bay Nearshore/Tideflats (CB/NT) Superfund site is located in Tacoma, Washington at the southern end of Puget Sound. EPA placed the site on the Superfund National Priorities List in 1983 after discovering widespread contamination.. The Hylebos waterway contains a toxic blanket of sediment contaminated with PCBs, PAHs, arsenic, hexachlorobenzene, hexachlorobutadiene, and other organics and metals. The contamination is from several industries established in the late 1800s, including chemical manufacturing plants, scrap metal recycling, log transfer facilities, and shipbuilding. The Port of Tacoma worked to extend the Hylebos Waterway in the 1960s to a three mile-long waterway, 200 feet wide. Today, 167 acres of the 285-acre area that makes up the Hylebos Waterway requires cleanup.

A memorial standup paddle in honor of my late brother Ron Kirk who loved the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead.

Ship Graveyard. Jetty Island, Everett, Washington

Stand up paddle boarding has allowed me to travel to some incredible places and better yet, has introduced me to some incredible people. When I prepared to Stand up paddle the Calumet River in Chicago, I met a great musician, artist and historian by the name of Acie Cargill who had written a poignant song about that river. When I made my plan to paddle “Bubbly Creek” my first thoughts were to ask Acie if he would write a song about this historic waterway that still bubbles today due to animal waste and parts dumped over a century ago. He said he would give it a try and 24 hours later he recorded the song: “Bubbly Creek, Chicago” I am very proud to have this song as the soundtrack to this first ever stand up paddle of Bubbly Creek.
I found out about Bubbly Creek while reading Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” of which I quote below concerning this nightmare of a river:

“Bubbly Creek” is an arm of the Chicago River, and forms the southern boundary of the Union Stock Yards; all the drainage of the square mile of packing-houses empties into it, so that it is really a great open sewer a hundred or two feet wide. One long arm of it is blind, and the filth stays there forever and a day. The grease and chemicals that are poured into it undergo all sorts of strange transformations, which are the cause of its name; it is constantly in motion, as if huge fish were feeding in it, or great leviathans disporting themselves in its depths. Bubbles of carbonic gas will rise to the surface and burst, and make rings two or three feet wide. Here and there the grease and filth have caked solid, and the creek looks like a bed of lava; chickens walk about on it, feeding, and many times an unwary stranger has started to stroll across, and vanished temporarily. The packers used to leave the creek that way, till every now and then the surface would catch on fire and burn furiously, and the fire department would have to come and put it out. Once, however, an ingenious stranger came and started to gather this filth in scows, to make lard out of; then the packers took the cue, and got out an injunction to stop him, and afterwards gathered it themselves. The banks of “Bubbly Creek” are plastered thick with hairs, and this also the packers gather and clean. ”
—Upton Sinclair, The Jungle

Ride along with Santa as he delivers gifts, surfs freighter wakes, and meets a couple of Christmas Seals on the Puget Sound near Ballard.

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