Worlds to Discover chronicles four of Payne's river voyages, along with explorations of the people, culture and history that highlight each region. Map illustrations depict each journey.
Turbulent Memories, Friendly Waters
The Connecticut River
Canaan, Vermont to Old Saybrook, Connecticut (August-September 2009)
Swamps and Sunrises
The Chattahoochee River
Columbus, Georgia to Apalachicola, Florida (August- September 2010)
Upside-Down under Southern Skies
The Bío Bío River
Chile, South America (March 2012)
Exploring America’s First Frontier
The Ohio River
Cincinnati, Ohio to Brandenburg, Kentucky (August-September 2013)
Outclassed by Powerboaters
“After passing Middletown, Connecticut—32 miles from the sea—I found another superlative camping location, on Lord Island. I pitched my tent on top of a 30-foot bluff and carried my food and sleeping bag up the bank, climbing barefoot on delightfully squishy, sun-warmed sand. After settling in, I ate supper enjoying the sunset glowing against the mirror of the water. I always feel especially secure camping on an island: like the English, guarded by water from foreign attack.
The following morning, I set out, wondering if my good camping luck would hold for what would be my last night on the river. The river at that early morning hour was perfectly calm, its glassy waters enshrouded by wisps of morning fog that, as I paddled along, gradually lifted to reveal a crystalline blue sky above. I had the water to myself, my boat’s delicate wake being the only disturbance on the mirrored surface of the broad estuary.
Alas, this kayaking idyll soon evaporated. A distant hum announced the coming of a speedboat, which rounded the bend and sliced across the flat surface at terrific speed, throwing up a high, curling wake. A few moments later another boat came, the biggest of any I’d seen in the entire trip on the Connecticut, and then another right after that. Soon, the river was positively swarming with bigger and bigger boats with higher and higher wakes. Read More »”
Trapped in a Swamp
(Yes, an alligator-infested swamp)
“After leaving Eufaula, it took two more days of hard slogging on the ever-widening waters of Lake Eufaula to reach the barrier responsible for this 80-mile lake, the Walter F. George Dam. This dam, along with two others on the lower Chattahoochee, was built in the late 1950s as part of a plan to encourage barge traffic by raising the level of the water. But in the end, the idea of commercial navigation on the Chattahoochee proved to be a hopeless cause. In the free-flowing stretches, the river kept throwing up new sand bars all the time, and the environmentalists wouldn’t let the Corps of Engineers accomplish the vast amount of dredging that would have been necessary to keep a serious commercial channel open—and Congress wasn’t willing to pay for such an effort. Furthermore, upstream users, especially the city of Atlanta, were drawing more and more water from the river, making it ever more difficult to maintain barge channel depth. By 2006, barge traffic on the Chattahoochee had expired. Read More »”