America looks different from a kayak!
One Inch above the Water, Jim Payne’s memoir of nautical escape, shows us a side of America we’ve never seen. We’ve had tours of America by automobile, van, motorcycle, and on foot; now it’s time to see the river side. Payne’s roaming takes us on the country’s famous rivers, including the Potomac, Columbia, Hudson, Saint Lawrence, and Mississippi, on the Erie Canal and Lake Champlain, and on the Atlantic Ocean along the Florida Keys.
One Inch above the Water is also a personal story, the inner life of a man in his late 50’s rebelling against the adventure-is-over mentality of adulthood. He discovers that freeing the child within is not a simple challenge, however. It often entails not knowing what you’re doing, and worse, looking like you don’t know what you’re doing. In recounting his struggles, Payne has fashioned a memoir of escape that speaks to everyone confined in a 9-to-5 routine, a book that celebrates the spirit of youth regardless of age.
His unusual mode of travel makes for unexpected adventures. One night Payne slipped into a U. S. Navy warfare center, on another he found himself in the deserted control room of a Columbia River dam. One memorable evening he sleptthis time by invitationin Franklin Roosevelt’s bed on a long-forgotten Potomac island resort.
The long-distance kayaker is a vulnerable traveler who often needs help. Payne discovered a remarkable spirit of openness and generosity all across America. On his voyage from New York to Quebec, bystanders gave him assistance each of the 70 times they saw he needed ita Good Samaritan batting average of 1000!
Paddling waterways affords a new slant on history. Payne, a political science professor who taught at Yale, Wesleyan, and Johns Hopkins before leaving academia, offers thought-provoking observations on his back-door visits to historical sites, including Mount Vernon, Fort Ticonderoga, Vicksburg, the Vanderbilt mansion on the Hudson River, and the birthplace of the U.S. Navy at Whitehall, New York.
One Inch above the Water; Running away on America’s Rivers
by Jim Payne
Paperback, 294 pages
Illustrations: 8 maps
Publication date: August 15, 2008
List price: 14.95