When David Burt bought his canoe in 1964, he thought that he would be the one paddling it on long-distance journeys.
But his life was cut short in 1966, and now the current owner of the canoe is embarking on a 1,000-mile adventure in remembrance of David.
Ian Davis, 52, of Green Tree will begin his journey in Point State Park with the hope of finishing this August in Cairo, Illinois with his 51-year-old canoe intact.
When Davis was a young boy in Canada, he began learning to become a long distance canoeist, but his passion was put on hold when he went to college to embark on another adventure — business.
The bug got him again about three years ago, and he began looking for an old wooden and canvas-covered canoe, the kind he paddled in when he was young.
His search led him to Susie Fitzgerald, who put up a Craigslist ad for her late brother David’s launch.
David was an adventurer who bought the canoe when he was about 16, but he was killed in a car crash right before he graduated high school in 1966.
“They’ve kept it all of these years as a remembrance of kind of what an adventurer David Burt was and what a free spirited young man he was, and that just inspired me in all kinds of ways," Davis said, "so I’ve decided to dedicate this trip to the memory of David Burt."
Davis is also using his passion and the canoe to raise awareness and funds for his nonprofit company, Called 2 Communicate, where he teaches children to become “world class communicators.”
Davis renovated the canoe and christened it Elinore after his late mother. His adventure will start on June 1, and it will take about two and a half months for him to reach his destination in Illinois.
He won't be alone. Davis plans to have Gracie, his 7-month-old Brittany Spaniel, along for the trip.
Davis will be sleeping in his tent and will pack half of his food for the trip in the canoe. The rest of the food will be shipped to a post office so he can pick it up along the way.
He will use a solar-powered cell phone charger to keep his smart phone running, which will allow him to update Facebook followers on his progress.
Davis said the Ohio River will serve as his bath tub and laundry machine during the adventure.
“Might find a few waterfalls along the way in order to have a nice, ice cold mountain-fed shower, that would be wonderful,” he said.
Davis said his dog Gracie has been out on the canoe a few times and is a natural swimmer, but there’s still some training to be done.
“We’ve been doing lots of paddling, lots of swimming, and we’ve even gone hiking a few times out to places like Raccoon Creek State Park, so she gets to figure out what it’s like to sleep in a tent and what it’s like to sleep next to me,” he said.
Davis said he hopes the adventure will encourage people to donate to his nonprofit, but he also hopes it will inspire older men like him to live life to the fullest.
“There’s a lot of guys out there that have settled into complacency in their life and settled into a sedentary way of existing, and my encouragement to them is you know, it’s not too late, get up, get out, get going,” he said. “There’s a whole world out there to experience, and I wouldn’t want anyone to miss it.”