Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea
From the Pacific to the Atlantic coast, Neal Moore (pictured) will travel a total of 7,500 miles across America in the next two years, by both canoe and land, to document and connect stories of diversity.
Over the past eight years, former CNN journalist Neal Moore has not traveled, but has lived in Africa and China to try and understand different cultures instead of just experience them.
Now, he’s on a mission to understand ours in America.
However, his voyage to understanding America is unique in a way that connects himself with the origins of this country.
In 2008, Moore had this idea that, “What if the greatest adventure was in your backyard?”
Not literally in “your backyard,” but instead the backyard of this country: rivers.
“Before we had roads, we had rivers,” said Moore. “To really understand where we come from, my journey relies on using the nation’s rivers with my choice of transportation being a canoe, as that’s how I feel is the best way is to learn about the origins of this country as I am putting myself in the shoes of those before us.”
In a two-year expedition, Moore’s solo journey by canoe stretches 7,500 miles across the country.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Moore’s access to outdoor recreation growing up was a hard thing to come by.
But what helped him to venture out of the city was becoming a Boy Scott.
Moore, who is an Eagle Scott, had his first experience with canoeing at summer camp at the age of 12.
That experience, along with his passion for storytelling, helped lead him to the 7,500-mile voyage he currently is on.
The mission of Moore’s journey is to document and understand stories of diversity from Astoria to Queens, New York, to find the “common amongst us all,” said Moore.
Moore started his two-year voyage early last month in Astoria because of its “rich history of diversity,” said Moore.
Astoria is home to the first U.S. settlement west of the Rockies, and saw some of the nation’s earliest migration with Chinese immigrants.
And with Queens being one of the more diverse places in this country, Moore’s decision to highlight these two cities as a start and end will help him discover “the common between our nation,” he said.
“By taking my canoe through the rivers of this country and connecting the stories from Astoria to Queens, I’m trying to give face to a country that’s split into two,” said Moore.
However, it won’t be easy.
Moore’s expedition will take him across 22 different rivers and states, including the Columbia River, where he’s currently paddling.
“The Gorge is a different animal,” said Moore. “It’s like nothing I have experienced river-wise.”
Not only will canoeing across the country be a difficult task — Moore already feels he has developed arthritis from paddling his canoe 152 miles into this journey — but trying to understand a country and the people within it in a short period of time will show itself as a challenge.
Although that’s what makes this journey achievable for Moore.
“When you push yourself outside of your comfort zone, you must make new connections and it puts yourself in new situations that you wouldn’t be in otherwise,” said Moore. “That’s what makes you grow.”
Moore split his journey up into three parts: to the Great Divide, the Big Easy, and to Lady Liberty.
Moore hopes to complete the first 1,086 miles of his journey to the Great Divide in two to three months. To follow and learn more about Moore’s journey visit alittlewake.wordpress.com/about-the-voyage.