Quad Cities to New Orleans

A while back, my good friend Gabriel Delgado sent me an email. He had paddled with my Dad and me from La Pesca to Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico back in 1981 during our canoe trip to the Amazon. Gabby had been battling cancer and he was writing me to let me know that it was now in remission. This was amazing news to hear. After losing my Dad to cancer in 2012, I had feared the worst. I was so happy for Gabby and his family and friends.

With renewed health, Gabby proposed we plan a reunion canoe trip down the Mississippi River and do something positive to help with the fight against cancer. I told Gabby that he could count me in and we started to set our goal for departure from Davenport, Iowa on June 1, 2017. Gabby will team up with his son for this year’s trip.

Chris Forde, who has been working away on a documentary about Paddle to the Amazon, was excited to hear about the new adventure. He has immersed himself in 360 virtual filmmaking for the past few years and would like to document this year’s adventure. If possible, he would also like to post some footage on our website during the trip.

I also mentioned this year’s trip to my friends Jason Carl and Josh Sparks. They had paddled with my Dad and me from Princeton, IA to Key West, Florida back in 2001. They too said they were in and are now planning to bring their girlfriends along. Their friend Stan Friedman plans to join us in his kayak.

My wife, Stacey, and our 7-year-old son, Davey will be coming along for the first few days and then heading back home to safety from the heat and bugs. Davey is excited and looking forward to departing one day after he finishes up Grade 1.

A few other people I’ve talked with plan to join us on our first day out of the Quad Cities. We may have enough canoes to fill the first lock and dam.

So, lots of fun and adventures ahead. My wife will be posting our progress on the Trip Log. We will also have a blog for others to leave notes and updates. If you happen to see us out on the river one day – please add your thoughts and comments to our blog.

I will be paddling in the faded yellow canoe my Dad had built back in the 70’s for our Amazon trip. The canoe proved to be a little too small, and another was built, but we have used it for all of our other big trips. It is now a little wobbly and needs some work to be ready for our trip to New Orleans – so that’s next on my list.

We’re all looking forward to a safe adventure and hope you have a great summer!

Dana Starkell

Paddle to the Amazon


Leaving Home

Winnipeg, Canada

At Sea

Venezuelan Coastline

Isla Patos


The Orinoco River

South America