(Kansas City, Missouri) - Tired of an unfulfilling life in Kansas City, Patrick Dobson left his job 20 years ago this month and took off on foot across the Great Plains. After arriving more than two months later in Helena, Montana, he set a canoe on the Missouri River and asked the waters to carry him back home.
Dobson recounts the transformative journey in a discussion of his new book Canoeing the Great Plains: A Missouri River Summer on Thursday, May 7, 2015, at the Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St. The presentation begins at 6:30 p.m.
Dobson, who teaches American history and literature at Johnson County Community College, wrote about the first part of his journey - the 1,450-mile trek northward to Montana - in Seldom Seen: A Journey into the Great Plains, released in 2009. Canoeing the Great Plains is his follow-up.
A novice canoeist when he began the return trip, Dobson took to the river at a time of dangerous flooding. Along the way, he came across a cast of characters who both helped him with the mundane tasks of travel—portaging around dams and reservoirs and finding campsites—and contributed to his personal catharsis.
Dobson made mistakes. He endured mishaps. But over time, he says he learned to trust himself to the Missouri's powerful flows and stark, serenely beautiful countryside. And the river evolved from frightening adversary to welcome companion.
Dobson went on to earn a doctorate in American history and literature from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2013. When not teaching at Johnson County Community College, where he is an adjunct associate professor, he works as a bridge builder doing structural, reinforcing, and ornamental ironwork.
Admission to the event is free. RSVP at kclibrary.org or call 816.701.3407.