I have big ideas. I throw them around in high drama (ask my wife) and forget whatever sometimes good, often bad idea I’d blurted within a day or two. But once in awhile, one sticks. That’s what happened with my Route 1 trip. After reading a story about the historic highway in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, clarity struck and I said to Debbie, "I must drive that road and paint a show based on my trip." That was eight years, 2,400 miles, 30 roadside paintings and a multimedia installation ago.
The James River idea didn't solidify so quickly. I knew I wanted to travel by something other than car. In fact, at one point it was by plane, flying around the state in a WWII Texan fighter. (That may still happen one day.) I was talking to a friend about my ideas and the James River Batteau festival came up, which brought me back to my own back yard — the James River that is. I live just blocks from it, cross it daily, hike and bike the trails around it weekly and have painted it's beauty time and time again. I decided that Big Jim and I are going to become good pals. I will paddle the length of it in a kayak. Just me and a boat. And a camera. And art supplies. And a tent. And coffee.
I will base an exhibit documenting my trip by translating my findings and experiences into paintings, drawings, photos and multimedia. Honestly, I have no idea what will come of it. That's how I intend to keep it until I hit the water. Georgia Busch, who heads up teen expeditions down the James for the James River Association, spoke words of wisdom — she said "go into this trip with an open mind." It's as if she was in the passenger seat during my last big trip driving down Route 1 in 2009, watching me erratically maintain multiple cameras while doing six-point u turns in the road with a DSLR in one hand and a Dunkin' Donut in the other. I planned that trip well before I hit the road — possibly to a detriment. This time, I'm going prepared, but without a game plan. Instead, I'll have one goal: to connect with the James River. Inside and out. To live off it, travel it, respect its beauty and its might. To know its weaknesses and learn how to help it. To discover its habitat and relive its history. And by the end, have enough knowledge, experience and documentation to put together a show that takes you back on that river trip with me. Hopefully you can see, taste, hear and smell the Mighty James as I did.
I kick off my 23-day trip two weeks from tomorrow. The 340-mile kayak journey down the James begins Saturday, September 2. I'll paddle alone for the most part, camping along the way. I have invited a few friends to join me for a few legs, just to keep me from turning into mad river man and help me through rapids and points that require portage.
I will be documenting the trip as I go. Follow me on Instagram or Twitter. You can also find me on Facebook at facebook.com/stevehedberg. I'll be posting as much as AT&T Wireless signals allow.
The Powhatan word
ABOUT THE TRIP
Follow me as I paddle the length of the James River, 340 miles from Iron Gate to the Chesapeake Bay. I'm not a pro, but I am a big fan of the log flume at Kings Dominion, so I feel confident in my kayaking abilities. I'll post as much as AT&T Wireless allows me:
A special thanks to all those who have supported me on this excellent adventure:
THEY PREPARED ME.
James River Association are stewards of the river: they protect it, take care of it, and teach others to respect it. They helped Me plan my trip and have been there for me through my preparations.
THEY TRAINED ME.
If you're going to paddle the James, you best know what you're doing. Greg Velzy and crew taught me the rapids, how to read them, and how to find my way through them safely, and hopefully having some fun while doing so. Classes available for all levels.
THEY GEARED ME UP.
Appomattox River Company has been suiting up paddlers for decades, and I was just one more who they served properly for this epic journey.
THEY'LL SHOW ME
BJ and Jennifer, owners of Glave Kocen Gallery, have exhibited my work for over ten years, and always support me with whatever feeds my soul. For that I am grateful, and I look forward to exhibiting this body of work at their gallery in the Fall of 2018.