If you are wondering where you can order the book, it is currently available here at our publisher's website, you can follow this link to Amazon or click here to connect with Barnes and Noble. It may be listed elsewhere as well. (It will also be available as an ebook!) I know that the book is not yet available to wrap up under the tree, but if you are looking for a gift for someone who loves to paddle, you could pre-order it and it will arrive in time for spring paddling!
My writing partner, Sand,y and I have been working on this for a while now. We began communicating with our publisher, Mountaineers Books in April 2015. We have spent hours and hours writing and editing and are very excited to see the final product! We only recently sent our final edits to our publisher and will have to wait until early spring to actually get hard copies, but the book is available online! (Orders can be placed now, but books won't be shipped until spring, sites say March 1, 2017.)
You have known me here as MaineKayakGirl. With the book coming out this is a good time to introduce myself to you as Kimberlee Bennett. (I am and will always be MaineKayakGirl at heart!)
It is a pretty cool feeling to go to Amazon and put my name in the search bar and have the book come up!
The book is a GREAT kayaking guide. It includes 50+ trips fore recreational paddlers. What does that mean, recreational paddlers? Well, it means that the trips are for paddlers who enjoy waterways that are free from rapids, are usually calm, and while we do include some tidal rivers and protected ocean coves these trips do not require sea kayaks. The trips include directions, maps, and photos.
There are some trips in the book that are also here on the blog, but many of the trips in the book will be new! I bet you could identify some of my favorite spots form the blog that will be in the book! (The book has different information about the locations.) I am hoping people will want to keep a copy in their vehicles to help choose new adventures or return to favorite spots!
I have so much affection for my loyal blog readers. Thank you all for your ongoing support. I love hearing from you and now, perhaps I will have the opportunity to meet some of you at various book signings! (I can't wait for that part!)
I am going to continue to blog about my paddling adventures and bring you new places to explore. It has been a challenge in the last two years to find places to paddle that are not going to be in the book, places that I could share on the blog. I will continue to paddle and share my experiences. I may need to drive a bit further to get to new places, and I welcome those experiences.
I wanted to share with you how this all came about...
I started kayaking in the mid 1990s with my mom, Laurie. She and my dad took my sister and I camping every summer when we were growing up. One of our favorite camping destinations was at a place along the west branch of the Penobscot River in the shadow of Mount Katahdin, in northern Maine. It was there that my sister and I learned to canoe. A man who also camped at the campground had a small canoe and offered it to us to use. My parents let my sister and I use the canoe in a shallow very slow moving stream. As we got older we were allowed to paddle up the river. My sister enjoyed rocking the canoe and I did not! I liked the calm peaceful ride! As my sister and I got older we spent less time camping as an entire family. Eventually my parents became 'seasonal' campers, parking the camper at the campground for the entire summer. When I was home from college in the summers I spent as much time as I could visiting my parents at the campground. I remember my mom calling me when I was in college and telling me she had tried kayaking and had loved it. She told me she thought I would love it too and that she and dad were going to buy a couple of kayaks to have to use. I told Mom she was nuts, I had no desire to be in a kayak... in my mind kayaking meant being strapped into a very tippy version of a canoe. Mom told me that the kayak she had used and planned to buy wasn't like that. She said it was long, wide, and stable. She said the cockpit was large and that I would not feel trapped. (A recreational kayak!) I was skeptical, but was excited to try something new. I remember Mom feeling really confident as she showed me the ropes, her in her red kayak and me in dad's green one. I was amazed at how smoothly the kayaks glided int he water, at how we could paddle in very shallow areas that were inaccessible to other boaters, and at how quietly we were able to move. We spent hours together...paddling, watching wildlife, and talking. Some of our best talks were on the river. Mom began photographing her trips. She was an artist, a painter, so we should have known she had an eye for capturing beautiful photographs. When mom paddled, she loved to stay close to the shore. She loved seeing the intricate root systems of the trees, the beautiful ferns, and was in awe of the beauty that could be found. She wasn't into kayaking to see how quickly she could go, but for the peace it brought her and the beauty she found, things other people missed, like a heart shaped opening in a tree branch in which a bird had nested.
Mom was diagnosed with kidney cancer in February 2008. The cancer took her life in April 2009. She was not only my mom, she was one of my best friends. The relationship we had was truly something upon which Hallmark makes its money!! I am very lucky to have had that bond with her. (I have a close bond with my dad too, but since this is about kayaking... it focuses more on Mom!)
After Mom died Dad gave me her kayak, her red kayak. It was such an amazing gift, one that still makes me emotional. I remember driving from Dad's house with it strapped to my truck and really unsure of where I would use it. I was a bit nervous to paddle alone... I had done it often in the river where Mom and I spent so much time together, but I knew that river as well as probably anyone who explored that area. So going to new places, not knowing what to expect, made me a bit nervous. I don't really remember where I first started paddling in this area (greater Portland), as the first couple of years after Mom died are a bit of a blur... I think I found places where people I knew had camps or found a couple of people who had done a bit of paddling and joined them. But then I found myself wanting to go more and wanting to find new place to explore, so I dug out my Maine Gazetteer and started looking for spots. There were a lot of places to choose from!
As many of you have probably experienced the little boat symbols in the Gazetteer gave a general idea of where the launch sites were located, but there were times it was a bit challenging to actually find the spot. I also began looking online for places to go, recommendations I suppose. And while I found some helpful sites, I decided I would start blogging to document where I had paddled. I wanted to include directions so that I could get back to the spots I really liked, and in case other people found my blog and wanted to go to the same places I was going, they would have an idea of how to get there. I also included photos... as I have spent more time in my kayak with a camera, I have found I am more like my mom than I even knew... I love finding the details, the things that other people might miss...
I started blogging here in 2011. My very first trip was Tenny Stream in Raymond/Casco. (Yup, it's in the book!) I kept paddling and kept blogging. Every once in a while someone who had read the blog reached out to me which kept me motivated! In the end of June, 2013, I received an email from Sandy. She introduced herself as another 'Maine kayak girl.' She was in the midst of trying to put together a guide book and invited me to be involved with her project. She told me that as she was researching places to kayak my blog kept coming up in her search results. We ended up meeting for lunch one day and stayed in touch and eventually paddled together. We learned that we had similar interests in where we liked to paddle. We both preferred quiet places with easy launches. We started listing out the places each of us had paddled and when we were over 40 we really thought we were onto something.
Sandy spent some time researching publishers and in April of 2015 we were asked to submit a book proposal. We had to send a few sample 'chapters' as well as a map and some photographs. From there we were offered a contract and that's when the work really began! I quickly learned that there is a big difference between blogging and writing a book! I naively thought it would be very much like blogging, but I was wrong. The information for the book is much more extensive than I have used in the blog. I think readers will find that there is a similar voice in the blog and in the book, but the book also includes some history of the areas and other details. I have learned a lot through the process! Sandy and I have worked together tirelessly to bring this to life!
Throughout the past couple of years I have alluded to the book as an ongoing project. Some may remember the day last fall where I went to five destinations in one day...that was a day that I needed to visit some of the locations to get some photographs.
By the time the book is on the shelves it will have been about a two year process for us. I can't wait to be able to share these trips with people! To share opportunities to explore more of Maine's beauty from a paddling perspective.
If you have made it through this post, thank you! I hope that people who buy the book reach out and say hello!