Tired of an unfulfilling life in Kansas City, Missouri, Patrick
Dobson left his job and set off on foot across the Great Plains.
After two and a half months, 1,450 miles, and numerous encounters
with the people of the heartland, Dobson arrived in Helena,
Montana. He then set a canoe on the Missouri and asked the river to
carry him safely back to Kansas City, hoping this enigmatic
watercourse would help reconnect him with his life. In
Canoeing the Great Plains, Dobson recounts his journey on the
Missouri, the country’s longest river. Dobson, a novice canoeist
when he begins his trip, faces the Missouri at a time of dangerous
flooding and must learn to trust himself to the powerful flows of
the river and its stark and serenely beautiful countryside. He
meets a cast of characters along the river who assist him both with
the mundane tasks of canoeing—portaging around dams and reservoirs
and finding campsites—and with his own personal transformation.
Mishaps, mistakes, and misadventures plague his trip, but over time
the river shifts from being a frightening adversary to a welcome
companion. As the miles float by and the distinctions blur
between himself and what he formerly called nature, Dobson comes to
grips with his past, his fears, and his life beyond the river.