The Rio Grande is disappearing. Demand for water is growing as snow packs shrink, rain patterns shift and average temperatures rise faster than they ever have in the past 11,000 years.Read more
It is about 125 miles from the reservation of the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas, where we stayed Monday night, to Laredo, where we needed to be as soon as possible.
It’s a long enough stretch that anything could happen. Mike had a deadline fast approaching. His wife and son were flying from Seattle to Texas to spend the week before Christmas with family. It was best if he did not miss too much of that time.
Bad weather, an injury, a broken boat or a really good interview would put his domestic bliss at risk.
It was an easy decision.
Mike would take the more certain path of hitching a ride to Laredo to spend a day or two scouting out story ideas and shooting photos. Then he would hit the road to be with his family.
I took to the river.
I love interviewing people. I love traveling slowly and exploring new places. But there is also an addictive joy to blindly making miles. This reach is perfect for travel by canoe and I spent sunrise to sunset paddling.
That may sound impressive, but please remember this is late December. On overcast days, there are only 9.5 hours of daylight at this latitude. I also take a 15-minute break at least every 1.5 hours and a half-hour lunch.
There was not much to do besides paddle.
I saw four people today. Three were riding in a helicopter and I could not figure out how to interview them. The fourth was on horseback and had cattle to attend to.
So I stared at the bow of my canoe and watched the riverbanks slip by. There were short gentle rapids that made it almost impossible to pick a bad line. Plenty of pelicans and ospreys provided entertainment. A nice set of rock shelves appeared around a river bend right when the sun started to dip below the horizon.
Somewhere in Laredo, Mike was dealing with meetings, water quality standards, alligators and other stuff I'll write about later.
I'm sure I'll have to grow up someday, too. But first, there's another 65 miles of river to cover.
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As they travel, Colin and Erich are taking water samples for the following periodic water quality tests. In partnership with The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment’s Texas Stream Team Program at Texas State University, the results will be added to a public database it helps maintain for research and monitoring water quality.
While making his way to the Gulf of Mexico, Colin will be periodically activating a device that uses satellite technology to share his current location. Use this map to see where he traveled on this day.
|Check-In||Time of Check-In (CST)||Latitude||Longitude|
To report on and understand the haphazard irrigation system the Rio Grande has become and the changes it is going through, Colin decided the best approach would be to travel the length of the Rio Grande by foot and small boat.
He knew it would give him a unique perspective on a river that few understand. It did require many long days of moving slowly and camping on muddy riverbanks, but Colin likes that sort of thing.
The benefit was it provided access to people who wanted to share their stories and experiences with the Rio Grande. Via Facebook and chance encounters, Colin made instant friends who opened their homes. They provided help from loaning their trucks to their cell phone contact lists to help tell the story of the Rio Grande.
The trip would not have been possible without their help, along with the dedicated assistance of David Lozano, Jason Jones and Daniel Dibona, who drove thousands of miles to get people and boats in place.