Preparations and Travel to Minnesota
Panic. Such a strong word. Why say "panic" instead “heightened self-awareness” or “acute actualization of one’s surroundings?” It wouldn't change anything but it sounds more dignified when I'm running around like a chicken with it's head cut off trying to finish everything up.
We have about thirty-six hours before we have to leave Raleigh and start heading to Minnesota. There are still lots of loose ends to tie up, cut off, or ignore altogether. That list is getting shorter, as are the days till we’ll be on the river. All that stands between us and the water is to pack up the rest of the apartment before tomorrow night, turn in the last bit of schoolwork, send emails to sponsors, update the website, forward our mail, double check the gear…
Today's been pretty busy. I've sewn a stuff sack for the sail, sealed the tent seams, and separated things from the “to go” pile to the “I don’t know what to do with this but it's not coming” pile. I've also sewn up the crotch of a well-worn pair of pants. Those pants have been good buddies to me. I wore them for a good part of my thru-hike and have barely taken them off since. I’ve resewn them as they've become unraveled, and watched as they've slowly begun their final journey back to their poly-fibered roots. I just hope when the time comes I can let go and give them the proper and dignified send off they deserve. Something noble, like a Viking funeral, not just left in the trash like yesterday’s news.
Time to get to get my heightened sell-aware butt in gear and tackle some more projects. I’ve got about as much self-awareness as I can stand right now.
May 10, 2005
What a long day. We finally got out of Raleigh after staying up till two a.m. the night before, and not bothering to go to sleep previous night. In short, I'm fried.
The biggest part of leaving is just getting all the little things checked off the to do list. Finishing up the last bit of schoolwork, returning library books, picking up, last minute things, getting the apartment ready to sublet for the summer, getting blood drawn and physical fitness testing done for a research study, etc. We've just driven 75 miles toward Lake Itasca, but we're 75 miles closer than yesterday.
Today it really hit me between the eyeballs that we were making this trip go. It's easy to talk, dream, plan, research, and everything else, but when everything gets packed up and you lock your door for the last time it's real.
When we get back, the first thing I want to do is a through summer cleaning. Put a couple of tarps out front and drag every thing out. One pile to keep, one to go away. I've always liked the idea of spring-cleaning, but that's easier to do when you've got the hired help to do it. We're so broke now the hired help would have to be paid in ramen noodles.
Coming back to my parent's place is always nice. It's good to meet everyone again, see familiar sights, and walk around on the farm. I love traveling around, but it's nice to have a place to call home.
I've got to turn in. I'm about to fall asleep and I'm just staring into space right now. Just a few more days till we're on the river. Once we make it around that first bend everything will be OK.
May 11, 2005
Turning Back Time
We're going back in time. Not literally, although that that would be handy. I'm noticing how the seasons have been moved back a few weeks as we head north. It was about eighty degrees and sunny when we left North Carolina. The fig tree out by our front door is putting out buds. The leaves on all the trees were in full force and turning a dark shade of green. Up here some of the trees haven't thought about waking up.
The ice on Lake Itasca just cleared out a few weeks ago. It was 33 degrees there last night, and temperatures are expected to drop this week. I'd be fine with if it stays cool. The upside would be the bugs being knocked down for a while. I've not a big fan of black flies or mosquitoes, so just let them rest. We'll see more than enough flying critters in July when we get to Louisiana.
Packing clothes for this trip was problematic. We've had to plan for cold temperatures to begin with which will quickly change as we head into summer. Summer will change to the seventh circle of Hades by July. I'm guessing it will be like crossing the river Styx. I might melt by the time we get to the gulf.
May 12, 2005
Shop till you Drop
Making our way to Minnesota. Only about 900 miles to go. While it’s interesting to see the country by car, I’m ready to get the show on the road and get paddling. I’m running on about thirteen hours of sleep over the past four days and starting to get a little frazzled.
Under this calm cool demeanor lies a very tired dude. Fortunately they sell Dr. Pepper nationwide to fuel this madness. Donald’s not so lucky. They don’t sell his libation of choice around here. He travels with a case of Cheerwine whenever going over the Appalachians. Pick your poison.
Bought a fuse for Candice’s car, picked up some fast food, and we’re back on the road. I left Raleigh needing to pick up a few things before got to the headwaters. I’d like to say it was in the spirit of adventure to buy these things on the road but it’s more a matter of slothfulness than anything else.
My shopping list
• Nylon shorts
• Boat Letters
• Micro cassettes
I bought a new pair of shorts last week and forgot to pack them. I’m not sure which is worse—idiocy or slothfulness. My knife is in the apartment somewhere. I’m blaming its disappearance on elves. (Note: Jess’s brother and sister in-law gave us a going away sack of goodies, including a Swiss army knife. They were channeling me.) Not getting the boat letters were just slothfulness. I remembered on the way up that I had a tape recorder in my book bag and now need more cassettes. Taking a tape recorder sounds good on paper, but we’ll see how much use it gets.
I planned to buy the hat on the road. I didn’t find one that I liked back home and decided my future hat and me were like ships passing in the night. I decided to let fate take over and bring us together. Lo and behold my hat found me in an Indiana hardware store. It’s a snazzy number; wide brim for protection, black band for fashion, green plastic insert for panache, and woven from some imported reed for ventilation and economy. You can tell a lot about a man by the kind of lid he wears.
Trimming Out the Fat
We’ve gone through our gear at least four times so far. While you can carry a quarter ton of gear in a canoe the question is whether you should. Some things like the tent, sleeping bag, and stove go on all our camping trips. Items like lifejackets and paddles have to be packed because we’re taking the canoe. Everything else gets picked over with a fine-toothed comb and left behind if not needed everyday. Sure, some things would make parts of the trip easier or more comfortable, but if they don’t help us paddle 2,350 miles they’re getting left behind. There comes a point that you can become a slave to your gear. Carrying more stuff means more to keep clean, dry, and secure. A canoe overflowing with equipment just isn’t going to help us reach our goal of reaching the end.
When we were packing up the apartment for the summer, the amount of “stuff” we’ve accumulated the past few years hit me square in the face. “Stuff” seems to breed if left to its own devices. We’ve gone from living in a two hundred fifty square foot yurt that I built to this seven hundred square foot apartment. We were bursting at the seams in both places.
The first thing I want to do when we get back is put a couple of big tarps out in the front yard a take everything out of the apartment. One pile to keep, one to sell, and one to donate or trash. It’ll be interesting to see what’s in some of the unopened boxes that have been piling up since the last move.
May 14, 2005
Time to Get Moving
Last night was the opening of fishing season. Fishing is a religion here. I think every truck in Minnesota has a boat trailer behind it right now. The congregation is ready. The plate has been passed. Now it’s time to go to their favorite fishing hole. Too cold for baptisms though.
The sun is just starting to pop its head over the horizon. The last few days have been a blur. We’ve packed and repacked gear, bought supplies, and driven hard over the last seventy-two hours. Today we finally get on the water. I still can’t believe it.
We’re carrying as little as possible because of how shallow the river is for the first 60 miles. Some rivers you can paddle even if the water is on the low side. Up here if the river’s low you’ll do more hiking than paddling. I love to hike, but not while dragging a canoe full of gear behind me.
One idea about group dynamics that a group has to through the following stages in order to really gel: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjournment. I think we’ve just past the storming stage, and it’s time to perform. Translation: We’re just ready to get on the river. Even if we only paddle five miles, that’s five miles in the right direction
We’ve talked about this trip for three years and all of a sudden we’re here and it’s time to go. Now there’s the matter of paddling twenty-three hundred miles. The only way to think about those kinds of miles is to paddle hard each day and not quit when things start to go south. Just like “the real world” really. Just a different context.
Lake Itasca to Minneapolis
May 5, 2005
Wanagan Landing, Minnesota
“You are listening to NOAA’s weather service radio station WXM 99…. Here’s the weather summary...Cold conditions will continue…snow showers and light rain…low’s 30-35, high in the mid 40’s, winds 15-20 mph.”
The digitized voice from the weather radio bringing us any good news but we were ready to get moving. Snow, sleet, or gloom of night—it was time to get this show on the road.
Both of us were tired from the drive up but were anxious to get on the water. I felt a combination of joy and panic just before the first paddle stroke knowing that there are 2,350 miles staring us in the face. All of the months of planning, dreaming, and worrying are getting put behind us.
I took one last look at Lake Itasca then bent down for a good luck drink. The water was so cold it made my teeth hurt. The thought of capsizing the canoe went through my head as we loaded the last final items. I would be no fun to go for a swim in this kind of weather.
No matter what happens over the next ten weeks I’ll be happy that we just started the thing. Taking a risk to hang your dream out there for the world to see makes it all worthwhile. The biggest and hardest step is the first—everything else is gravy.
We had a short first day after getting on the water about noon. In those first few miles we encountered heavy winds, rain, and even hail for a while. We were using our aluminum backup paddles for the first stretch—cheap, heavy, and indestructible. They are more like instruments of battle than something to paddle with. With all the shallow water and rocks around we we’re afraid to tear up the good paddles.
Every once now and again the hail would bounce off those metal paddle shafts and make a “ting” sound. It’s all fun and games until an ice pellet hits you in the face.
The river was nothing but a creek flowing out of Lake Itasca. After paddling the first few strokes a random thought came my way. Jess and I have both paddled a fair amount of whitewater and taught a few canoe classes during grad school. That’s all well and good, but for as much paddling we’d done together we had never actually been in a canoe together. So much for that planning stuff.
All the gear is shiny as a new penny. The canoe had never seen a drop of water other than being rained on during the drive up. We put the boat numbers on in the parking lot just before taking the canoe off the rack for the last time. Not a scratch on anything—the drybags still have that new car smell to them. This isn't going to last.
After a few hours of rain and hail we were ready to pull over for the night. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has designated the Mississippi River as a paddle trail and has developed campsites and shelters all the way to Minneapolis. Although it’s only five miles from where we started, we were looking around every bend in the river until we arrived at Wanagan Landing.
Both of us were freezing and needed to dry off and eat. Jess heated up the water for hot chocolate and cooked the pasta while I set the tent up and shuttled the gear. After everything was put away we dove into the tent and napped while the wind died down.
We’ve spent countless nights out in the woods but together never on a trip this long. It really hit me that, yes, we’re in Minnesota, and yes, we have a long way to paddle before we’re done.
We feel like the luckiest kids in world.
May 23, 2005
Right now we’re on the public dock at Cohasset, MN. We arrived about noon and are in the middle of the Great American Dry-Out. Every scrap of gear is spread out and soaking up the sun’s rays. It’s rained almost every day so far and everything stays damp. Not necessarily wet, but definitely damp. I’ve got a felling the tent is going to be on a constant wet/dry cycle for the next few months.
The river rarely flows in one direction for very long. About six miles in a straight line is our record so far. The Mississippi flows northward for the first sixty miles, and then cuts back to the southeast toward the Gulf of Mexico. Good thing we started at the top. It’s all downhill from here they say.
June 1, 2005
Little Falls, Minnesota
Just had a great breakfast at the Black and White Hamburger Shop here in Little Falls. The Black and White is a pretty funky place, serving as a diner, bookstore, and local hang out. It’s got an art deco feel to it that reminds me of some of the places in downtown Asheville, NC. You can tell the owner has really put his heart into the place.
We were craving biscuits in the worst kind of way and they came through in spades—two biscuits, sausage gravy, hash browns, and orange juice. I thought the best course of action would be to guard out booth for the rest of the day. I always think it's important to cherish the things most valuable to you, and nothing was more precious at that moment then those biscuits. If these guys delivered I’d be calling in for an airdrop every morning.
This week has been amazing—everything from cold rain to bright sunshine and everything in between. The river is constantly changing character. Just a week ago it was less than one hundred feet wide. Now it’s not uncommon for it to be a half-mile across now.
The mosquitoes are out in force. You can hear them getting louder as soon as the sun starts to set. Mosquitoes in these parts are crepuscular, meaning they’re most active at dusk and dawn. During the day they’re not so bad, but they’re a nightmare to deal with right before we go to bed. Once we zip the tent up for the night there’s no coming out until morning.
We’re seeing more man-made development popping up as well. Homes, dams, towns, and factories are becoming regular sights. Two weeks ago we fell asleep to the music of the loons. Last night we dozed off to the lullaby of a riding lawnmower.
The high water is helping us cover our miles a little faster. If the wind’s not in our faces we’ll paddle about four miles per hour at a moderate pace. With a strong headwind we practically stall if not for a furious effort.
Yesterday was supposed to be an easy twenty-five mile day. If things went well we’d even sneak a shower in at Crow Wing State Park. Sounded like a great plan. The first ten miles were cake, but the last fifteen were just a pain in the neck. Were it not for the faster current we’d just be finishing right about now.
Got some sun for the first time in days so things are looking up. Sometimes we get confused when this big, bright, shiny thing pops out of the sky every once in awhile. I now know what Punxsutawney Phil must go though every spring when they drag him out of his hole.
June 9, 2005
Red Wing, Minnesota
We’ve spent the day and a half off the river here in Red Wing. Jessica has a friend here from AmeriCorps that has given us the run of her house. It’s nice to have a cozy bed and hot showers on demand to help recharge our batteries. Yesterday was our first complete day off in three weeks and it was about time for some real rest. The day went by quickly and we’ll be leaving this afternoon after running a couple of last minute errands. The river is calling.
Docking at the marina here in Red Wing was pretty funny. We tied up the canoe at the end of a long string of yachts, sailboats, and houseboats. Some of those craft cost a cool half million dollars or more. I could smell the jealousy in the air as we pulled in. Our tiny, muddy canoe doesn’t cost a dime to run other than a constant intake of food and water. We’ve been told that many of those boats never leave the slips because they are too expensive to operate. Nice place for a glass of wine though.
The past week has flown by. We’ve gone through the cities of Grand Rapids, Prescott, Minneapolis, St. Paul, and now Red Wing. We’re also along the Wisconsin border for our second state. Going through the Twin Cities was exciting, interesting, and nerve-wracking at the same time. This week we also went through the first five of the twenty-nine locks we’ll see before St. Louis. The locks are a marvel of engineering, even while going through with white knuckles gripping the paddle.
Everything is getting bigger. The river, the cities, the barges—everything. It’s neat to look one hundred feet up and see cars driving on these towering bridges. Just a few weeks ago we were ducking under remote two-lane bridges back at the headwaters.
We still have the river largely to ourselves most of the time. Except for a few barges we pretty much paddle all day without seeing anyone else. An exception to this would be anywhere near the marinas in the late afternoon. The zoo starts at 5:01 p.m., and it’s every boat for themselves. Most folks don’t go far from the boat ramps though. There must be some unwritten rule about taking your boat more than three miles from the marina or something.
Trimming the Fat, Part II
Part of our day off was spent getting rid of gear and clothing we weren’t using anymore. The weather has warmed up, so we’ve sent home the cold weather clothes and sleeping bag. A five-dollar blanket and sheet bought at the thrift store will be our bed for the rest of the trip. There are some other odds and ends that we either haven’t used or have found replacements for that are getting the boot. Having less gear and clothes to deal with means less to keep clean, secure, maintained, and most importantly, dry.
It’s been a real joy to trim off some of the psychological fat as well. Contrary to earlier predictions we haven’t killed each other. Things are going well, we’re in a groove, and everyday is a new adventure.
Things are picking up on the media front. Greta Cunningham from Minnesota Public Radio came in this morning to record a segment for Morning Edition. She was a very sweet lady to meet, and while we were doing the interview I couldn’t help but listen to her calm MPR-voice. Back home we’re always listening to National Public Radio so it was a rush to make it onto one of their syndicated programs.
Audubon Magazine also interviewed us for an article. It’s a great feeling to get the word out about Audubon’s Upper Mississippi Campaign and I hope they’re seeing some results from our expedition. They’re doing some good work trying to help people get connected back to this river.
June 17, 2005
This week has been one amazing day after another. We had mixed emotions when we crossed the Minnesota border into Iowa. We have many great memories of the early stretch of river and are sad to see it go, but excited about what lies ahead. We’re out of Minnesota and are into the middle stage of the trip.
I can’t get over the changes in the river over these 770 miles. We started off paddling in a creek and are now we have this huge river with barges and locks. Soon we’ll be in St. Louis, past the locks, and into a free-flowing river for over 1,100 miles. We had both high points and low but this trip has surpassed every expectation thus far. I can’t wait to see what the weeks ahead will bring.
Steamboats were common on the river back in the mid to late 1800’s. One of the highlights at that time was to go on the “Fashionable Tour.” People would travel by train for forty-eight hours to get from New York to St. Louis. They would then board a steamboat and be in Minneapolis within a week. Four dollars got you a deck pass, but you had to bring your own food, sleep on the deck without bedding, and get off the boat twice a day to bring in cordwood for the boilers. Eight dollars got you the posh dining room, sleeping quarters, and probably a hot toddy to end the day with. The river towns were busy centers of commerce, travel, whisky, and floozies. We are in the two-dollar range for this trip meaning we even have to paddle the boat. Can’t beat the views though.
June 25, 2005
1045 miles We’re taking the day off in Hannibal, MO, at the Bayview Campground. Jess’s folks come down on their Goldwing motorcycles from Ohio for a visit. They pulled a trailer that converted into a camper about the size our apartment. I need to see if that’ll fit into the canoe.
We arrived yesterday and will be taking off tomorrow morning on the way to St. Louis and beyond. Our host at the campground had arrainged for two TV stations and the local radio affiliate to be at the marina when we pulled in. It’s great to get the word out about the Audubon Society, our trip, and the sponsors that have made this happen. We’ll get the film clips on the website as they become available.
There are about more seven locks to go till we’re in the free-flowing river beyond St. Louis. Our mileage will increase, as will some of the things that can make the Mississippi “interesting’ to a small craft. We’ve got our eyes peeled though and will be keeping a lookout for everything. We’ve been paddling about 40 miles a day the past week even with the locks and expect to canoe about 40-50 miles a day after St. Louis.
The End of the Sweet Tea Drought I'm from the south, raised in the grand metropolis of Climax, NC. Sweet tea is just a matter of life in the south, as is BBQ. I'm not going to get into the argument on western vs. eastern BBQ, as I think its best to not take contentious religious matters lightly.
From the time I had left NC for the hinterlands of Minnesota, I had not seen or heard about any sweet tea in 47 days. It was a profoundly dark point in my life, and not to be repeated soon if at all possible. That black cloud of despair ended yesterday.
We rode over to Hannibal to take in the sights and grab a bite to eat. We eventually ended up at Bubba's Catfish House. Looking over the menu, the first things that we've looked for haven't been the entrees, sides, or desserts, but the drink selection. Looking past the array of soft drinks, coffee, domestic and imported beers, we came to the Holy Grail. That simple, glorious, understated line that said "Tea: sweetened or unsweetened."
The heavens parted and a soft ray of shimmering light shined on that menu. A choir of angels sang the Alleluia Chorus. I'm getting weepy just thinking about it.
We ordered a round of that delicious nectar, then asked them to just leave a pitcher at the table. After almost a month and a half without that delicious liquid, my thirst was finally quenched. The BBQ wasn't bad either.
July 1, 2005
We dropped into the town of Herculaneum, MO yesterday to pick up some water and grab breakfast. Honestly we also wanted to go to the town just because of the name. How can you go wrong with someplace called Herculaneum?
We hid the canoe as best we could then hoofed it into town. The beach area looked like the local hangout, with beer cans and exploded firework scattered all over the place.
After passing an old industrial area we arrived at the combined city hall/police/county business office. We asked for directions to the closest breakfast joint and were walking off when the mayor (John Chamis) flagged us down. Not ten minutes later we were being shuttled to a Jack-in-the-Box and brought back for the royal treatment.
When we got back from our breakfast run we were given a copy of the history of the city, t-shirts, pens, and neckerchiefs with the city logo. Just twenty-four hours after being stood up for three interviews in St. Louis I’m sitting in mayor’s chair calling home. The only thing that could have topped that would have been to grab a beer at the Bucket of Blood Saloon. Too bad that place closed in 1850. Great name for a bar though.
Seeing the confluence of North America’s two largest rivers was an incredible sight to see. The silty waters of the Missouri combined with the brown of the Mississippi over the course of a mile. The Ohio River is the next large river the Mississippi takes in, and we’ll reach that in about three days.
I can’t get over the expanse of land that the Mississippi drains, and the amount of water that eventually ends up in its channel. There are no more locks and we are now making about six miles per hour. I think we’ll be able to pull off some of these fifty-mile days without killing ourselves if the river stays like this for a while.
July 12, 2005
We’re getting back on the river after spending three days hiding from Hurricane Dennis. A couple of friends that live nearby graciously picked us up and gave us a place to sit out the storm. The Memphis Yacht Club let us store the canoe for free while this thing blew over. I am constantly humbled by the outpouring of support we’ve been given throughout this journey.
I’m sure we’ve gotten softer, considering we’ve only taken three complete days off the water the previous two months. I’m expect to find more than a few muscles that went unused sitting on the couch and eating copious amounts of food. Time to get back in the canoe and head towards the gulf.
July 19, 2005
We finally made it to Vicksburg yesterday. This has been the hardest week of the trip by far. Temperatures have been hitting around 100 degrees. When it gets that hot sometimes my brain feels like it is boiling. We've been taking a few hours off every afternoon to hide from the heat. I'm just completely smoked right now.
When we started this trip, we planned to make a decision about which path to the sea we’d take by the time we reach Vicksburg. Given a combination of safety, time, scenery, and about ten other inter-related factors, we decided to paddle the Atchafalaya River down the Gulf of Mexico. This will take us into some of the more remote bayou areas we’d miss by taking the Mississippi, have less barge traffic, and give an overall experience more in line with what we’d like to have. Kind of like taking the two-lane blacktop instead of the interstate.
Right now the weather worries have subsided a little and it looks like we’re in the home stretch. I can't believe how many hurricanes and tropical storms we've already had this year. Not to jinx anything, but if the weather holds off we should be done in about 8 days or so.
A huge storm came blowing in just as we pulled up to the confluence of the Yazoo and Mississippi rivers. Downtown Vicksburg is up the Yazoo a ways so we hid the canoe in the bushes and hiked in. This wasn't the best place to hide the canoe but we planned to pick it back up after going to the post office for our maildrop. That was mistake number one.
The little hike turned out to be a few miles. It was far enough to not want to go back to the canoe, so we just had the clothes on our back and a small bag of personal gear.
We walked downtown to the visitor's center and asked about motels.
The lady gave us the name of the casino and another "more economical" motel up the street. When I asked about the cheaper place she replied "Well honey, you'll just have to see it for yourself." A southern lady never badmouths anything outright and we took a hint. We didn't have to be talked into an all-you-can-eat buffet. The casino it was.
July 25, 2005
Somewhere outside of Morgan City
Today's been one of the longest in awhile. We were on the water by 4:30 a.m. to try and make some big miles before dark. Hurricane Emily is blowing out to Mexico what we can tell but we have no idea what's following her. It'd be nice to have better information about the weather but we have what we have.
July 27, 2005
Morgan City, Louisiana
We made it. I can’t believe this is over.
There are so many emotions and memories going through my head right now I don’t know where to start. The last few days have been some of the best of the trip. Hot to be sure, but great all the same. We really struggled with the decision to take the Atchafalaya River to the gulf instead of the Mississippi but it worked out great for us. We met far more folks going this way, the barge traffic was minimal, and the river was smaller allowing us to reflect on everything instead of dodging boats all day. Taking the road less traveled was far better for us in retrospect.
Our final day was terrific. To get closer to the gulf, we had to go past the last town (Morgan City) and paddle back about 13 miles. The final day we were paddling through a great bayou as saw plenty of birds, “boneyards” of old boats, a few alligators, and large number of jumping fish that I need to ID sometime soon. Everything around here is made up of marshes with very little dry ground or sandbars. Our campsite last night was a small spit of sandbar maybe 8” above the high water line.
There was a terrific thunderstorm yesterday afternoon that we had to sit out, soaking everything around here. Spending the last night on a wet, soggy, mosquito-infested sandbar didn’t matter though. We were just glad to have made it here without any injuries or major incidents. There’s some lingering soreness, especially in our hands, a little sunburn, but nothing else of any consequence. I’m in the best shape I’ve been in 10 years. Sand and mud is covering everything, including us. We’re a week removed from our last shower, paddling 8-10 hours a day in the Louisiana summer heat. It’s going to take a week of showers to get all the grit and funk off.
June 25, 2006
I hope ya'll have enjoyed following our trip. It's been a pleasure sharing it with you. Our mission was to raise awareness of the Audubon Society's Upper Mississippi Campaign, so please visit their website for more details and updates about their organization.
Jess and I paddled over two months in a canoe and didn't kill each other. That's a good thing, and next April we're going to tie the knot and make it official. I am a lucky, lucky guy.
I've written a book on the journey and will be releasing it this fall. Part of the proceeds will be donated back to the Audubon Society.