In December St. Louisan Karl Palazzolo returned to town after a four-month sojourn on the upper Mississippi River. The 46-year-old Palazzolo initially set out to paddle solo from the river's headwaters all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. He only got as far as St. Cloud, Minnesota.
"That's still 420 miles of travel," defends Palazzolo, who says that he underestimated the difficulty of canoeing the early stages of the river. "Up there, the Mississippi is little more than a shallow stream. There were times when I was literally walking the canoe downriver." And while Palazzolo didn't quite achieve his stated goal, he has succeeded in creating an entertaining online journal of his journey. Over the past few months, Palazzolo and friend Tom Malkowicz (an extremely talented video editor) have been posting video clips Palazzolo shot during his trip to www.seasicktours.com.
There's the video of Palazzolo hunkered down on the shore waiting out a storm, the scene of him trying to make sense of a nautical map and the breathtaking view of the sun setting over the river's marshlands.
"Here in St. Louis we live right next to the river, yet most people wouldn't dare stick their toe in the water," says Palazzolo. "It's seen as nasty and dirty. But there are large parts of the river that are absolutely beautiful, and people use the river for recreation."
An accomplished traveler, Palazzolo says he decided to canoe the Mississippi a few years back after he was savagely beaten by a gang of youths along Cherokee Street in south St. Louis. "I was lucky to survive. It took me about a year to recover," explains Palazzolo. "After that, I kind of felt like I had a second lease on life, and canoeing the river is something I've always wanted to do."