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Steven Faulkner and his 16-year-old son Justin are paddling and portaging their way along the 1000-mile, 1673, Mississippi discovery route of French explorers Marquette and Joliet. Tired, hungry, lost, lonely, fogbound, canoe-wrecked, unable to make their way in the darkness, they are having an excellent time—paddling 300 miles along Lake Michigan’s shore to Green Bay, Wisconsin, then 300 miles up the storm-flooded Fox River, down the Wisconsin River, then turning south for 400 miles down the mighty Mississippi to St. Louis.
Waterwalk is a triple journey: a journey into the heart of this continent 300 years ago—as depicted in Marquette’s own journal (a translation of which Faulkner found in the basement of a University of Kansas library), a modern exploration of the quiet waterways that weave their way through busy, rush-around America, and a voyage through the heart of a father-son relationship.
“Something in us,” says Faulkner, “longs to go the way of the river, to lie down on those silken currents and swing away from the bank and move along mile after mile. There’s something there that’s wild and strong and asleep in mystery . . .And all the while, rivers spoke to us in unfamiliar languages, the winds warned us of unheeded perils, statues came alive and shared their stories, and a father and son tried to learn the language of friendship and interdependence."