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OBSERVER Photo by Katrina Fuller Pictured are Mark Wenzler, director of the Chautauqua Climate Change Initiative, and 22 Rivers Canoer, Neal Moore. Moore is on the final leg of his trip across the country from Oregon to New York. He stopped in Chautauqua County to visit the Chautauqua settlement.

CHAUTAUQUA – Most people enter Chautauqua Institution through the main gates – but 22 Rivers canoeist Neal Moore is not most people.

Moore, a canoeist from Los Angeles, began his journey through the United States in Oregon and landed on the shores of Lake Chautauqua at the institution on Monday evening. Moore calls his trip the “22 Rivers”, due to the nature of his travels.

“I am so delighted to be here in New York,” he said. “The trip includes 22 rivers and waterways and 22 states. New York is the 22nd state, my last state, and 7,500 miles away. It’s a nice sample of states and the American experience.

Moore said he decided to stop at the gated community due to a recommendation from a friend.

“I am based in Taipei and Cape Town – 20 years in Taipei and Cape Town for 30 years” Moore said. “One of my best friends in Taipei is Sid Goldsmith who has been coming to spend the summer here for a long time, so I have heard about the institution and the good work here for a long time. The big hope was that I could make it out when he was here, but the way it went, he just got back to Taipei. We were able to meet in Pittsburgh.

He said the institution is “unbelievable.” Having only heard about it secondhand, Moore said he wasn’t sure what to expect.

“It’s positively – with positive being the keyword there – just amazing,” he said. “I have lived in Ethiopia and in different places where, for example, Harar is a Unesco World Heritage Site and the reason is that in the 500 year old walled city which is in a prominent Islamic place, they invited Christians 100 years ago. And so, here to have the kind of interfaith experience and the catch-all, really, for everyone and the four pillars that they talked about, and also to embrace natural beauty – that’s really something.

Moore spent the night at the historic Athenaeum Hotel on the grounds, which he said he enjoyed.

“Part of this journey for me is to look at history”, he said. “Staying here last night was just amazing.

Moore participated in a field interview with Mark Wenzler, director of the Chautauqua Climate Change Initiative. Wenzler had recently made a memorable hike of his own, cycling from Washington, DC to the institution. Wenzler asked Moore about the conditions of the waterways he traveled and what inspired the trip.

“The big idea was to go back to my country of origin and really explore it, up close and in a personal way”, Moore said. “To explore both how waterways connect from sea to sea, and also how we Americans connect as well. I think there are so many things that unite us.

Moore said he took a site tour and saw many landmarks all over the community. After a brief stint in the field, it will head to Westfield and cross Lake Erie until it reaches Buffalo where it will then take the Erie Canal.

“Then there’s 350 miles to Albany – half of which I’ll be able to paddle and the other half I’ll have to pull. “ Moore explained. “I have wheels that go under the canoe, then I have a fall arrest harness (to pull the canoe), which is appropriate as I will be on the Towpath bike path, which has been turned into a bike path, where the mules and horses used for pulling (loads). Then I will have the joy of going down the Hudson River to New York.

He said he would arrive in the city in December, shortly after turning 50. When asked how he continued, he smiled.

“A truism is that your body adapts to the river” Moore said. “I’m getting better and better, and I believe that by the time I get to New York I’ll be in the best shape of my life.”

He said he canoeed the Mississippi River in 2009 during the booming downtown economy. He undertook the journey to seek “sort of practical advice”, he said.

“You find that the people who live in the river towns are a little rough and tumble, and they have a certain courage,” Moore said. “They have seen boom times, they have seen busts and they have the means to stand up and fight. So on this trip there are several undercurrents, but one of the big ideas for this trip from sea to shining sea was that I wanted to be here in America the year before the election. national.

Moore said he made a plan to research what brings the country together as a nation. He said we all know what separates us, but he is interested in finding the things that unite us as a people and as a country.

“What are the ingredients of the American experience? He asked. “The end game is the Statue of Liberty, so I approach it from the American side and find out what has become of us and how we continue to absolutely unite.”

Moore documents his experience on his website blog, www.22rivers.com, on Instagram under @riverjournalist, and he is launching a Facebook page under “Two Rivers Expedition.” He hopes to be able to broadcast his arrival at the Statue of Liberty live for those who would like to tune in.

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