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A journey of whim, humor, and self-discovery along the Connecticut River When retired CEO Ramsay Peard, 61, called his old friend David Morine, 59, and asked the longtime conservationist if he wanted to canoe the Connecticut River, Morine said he'd do it under one condition: no camping. "We'll rely on the kindness of strangers." And that's what they did. Mooching their way down the river and staying with strangers every night, Morine and Peard got an inside look at such issues as the demise of farming, the loss ...
A journey of whim, humor, and self-discovery along the Connecticut River When retired CEO Ramsay Peard, 61, called his old friend David Morine, 59, and asked the longtime conservationist if he wanted to canoe the Connecticut River, Morine said he'd do it under one condition: no camping. "We'll rely on the kindness of strangers." And that's what they did. Mooching their way down the river and staying with strangers every night, Morine and Peard got an inside look at such issues as the demise of farming, the loss of manufacturing, gay rights, and Wal-Mart versus Main Street, and they were able to delve deep into the lives of complete strangers. But Morine soon realized the one life he never dug into was Peard's. After spending a month with him in a canoe, he had no idea that his friend's innermost thoughts had taken a fateful course. Written in the tradition of Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods, this book will be treasured by conservationists, canoeists, and old friends still seeking a thrill. Everyone else will be delightfully entertained.
“A great story about the mystery of friends and comfort of strangers. . . . John McPhee’s birchbark canoe has nothing over the two coots’ canoe.”
—Spencer B Beebe, President, Ecotrust
“Two Coots In a Canoe, is—nearly to the end—a book of laughter, an account of the comic misadventures of two old friends as they float down the sunlit Connecticut River. And then come the final pages: The two friends’ dark destination will surprise and shock all readers, even those with the wits of a wood tick. This remarkable book should be bought and read. Those who do will remember it for a long time.”
—Bil Gilbert, author of God Gave Us This Country
“Dave ‘Bugsy’ Morine has once again given us a great book.”
—Bill Garrett, former editor, National Geographic Magazine
“When you finish this book, you’ll want to drop everything, grab a canoe, and explore your own river.”
—George H. Fenwick, President, American Bird Conservancy
“[Two Coots in a Canoe] is less about the people whom the canoers meet along the way (although they do encounter a colorful assortment) and the communities they discover than it is about the relationship between the two men and the startling, tragic turn it will take. A book that will entertain you and make you laugh until, at the end, it makes you want to cry.”
Posted September 19, 2009
This is a very entertaining read about two old friends from college days.
Every chapter describes an encounter with a local character and their unique take on life. It's heartwarming, riveting, honest, witty, cynical and enlightening. A great read!
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Posted September 6, 2011
I am an old coot about the age of Ramsey and Bugsy so can relate to their outlook on life. It was an a most enjoyable read for someone my age, but the younger generation would probably give this book three stars. David Morine does a great job of describing 400 miles of travel in 250 pages. I liked the book and would recommend it to any book club.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 2, 2009
Although a fine piece of writing, "Two Coots in a Canoe" is a difficult book to classify because of its multiple themes. Mr. Morine tells how he and Ramsay, an old friend from business school, paddled the length of the Connecticut River. However, this book is only partly a tale of river "adventure." It documents the river's changing character, but unlike accounts of voyageur Alexander Mackenzie or river guide Sigurd Olson which describe virgin places, the Connecticut is no longer wild. It is tidal in southern Connecticut and relatively open in New Hampshire/Vermont. In between, its flow is interrupted repeatedly by dams in old New England industrial towns. The author describes how the river has been altered by its neighbors. In Hartford the Connecticut is hardly in a natural state, but the city has treated the river with respect. The Connecticut is a jewel of Hartford's downtown business district. In contrast, Springfield, just 27 miles north of Hartford uses it as a dump. Elsewhere, the river has been given a chance to recover, and eagles and other wildlife have returned.
The book's second theme is conservation. Part of the purpose of this trip was for Morine to meet people from local conservation groups who seek help in preserving land along the river. (The author spent most of his working life in charge of land acquisition for The Nature Conservancy.) Yet his approach to conservation is not what one might expect. Morine is not emotional or doctrinaire (at one point, he cringes at the prospect of meeting a "true believer" in the movement). He is analytical. He approaches the subject as a businessman and provides practical advice to local groups (and readers) who seek insights into land preservation.
The third, and possibly most engaging, aspect is the description of people they met along the trip. Morine is a perceptive judge of character and is a delightful raconteur. At age 60 he accepted the invitation to paddle the Connecticut on condition that he wouldn't actually have to sleep in a tent, cook on an open fire or portage the canoe. These restrictions would have been a non-starter for the voyageurs, but even in modern times, motels are seldom located at convenient take-outs along the river. The answer was to mooch off folks from the local conservation groups. Arrangements were made in advance including transportation of the canoe between handy access points. Problem solved. Boarding with local residents provided Morine an assortment of interesting folks about which to write. His sponsoring organization invested him with authority to make grants for projects that met certain requirements. Readers experience disappointment when a host's worthy project must be rejected and satisfaction when an initially unsuitable project is re-worked so that it qualifies for a grant.
The final theme is mental health. "Two Coots in a Canoe" would stand without this theme. However, mental health turned out to be integral to the story. The book wouldn't exist if Ramsay hadn't suggested the trip. Ramsay made most of the arrangements. A sense of foreboding develops regarding Ramsay. But the foreboding tone is informed the author's knowledge of subsequent events. As perceptive as Mr. Morine is, he did not anticipate the events that give the book its unusual quality. Ramsay called it the "trip of a lifetime," but was unable to use it to build further adventures. Neither Mr. Morine nor the reader understands why.
Posted February 26, 2011
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