Don Krambeck says he won't give up exploring the Mississippi River in a canoe until he "gets old."
The 91-year-old from Clinton, Iowa, is working his arm muscles this week while participating in the Great River Rumble weeklong canoe and kayak trek.
The event began Sunday in Dubuque, Iowa. During the 135-mile excursion down the Mississippi River, canoeist go through six locks before wrapping up Saturday in Muscatine.
Krambeck first dipped a paddle in the Mississippi while growing up in Davenport. Decades later, he still relishes the thrill of navigating the river with good companions.
"I love that river. When I get old, I'll probably give up canoeing," Krambeck quipped.
High waters and floating trees aren't checking the enthusiasm of 180 participants, he said. In the spirit of the French voyageurs, the 2010 event features dozens of canoes and kayaks and a trade canoe that holds eight to 10 people. The voyageurs are 14 and older, on up to Krambeck.
The Rumble is always on the Mississippi or a tributary.
Managing a canoe is challenging when going with the rapid flow of the water, still high from the recent flood, said Kathy Harris of Moline, the LeClaire landing co-chairman.
The safety-minded group ropes together while going through locks, but they also take time for splashes of fun. The stretch through Iowa and Illinois "is a beautiful part of the river. Mark Twain said the river is a book and every day is a new chapter," Harris said.
The Great River Rumble's roots go back to Iowa's 1996 sesquicentennial. The voyage is organized by Midwest River Expeditions, a nonprofit organization.
Canoers will spend Wednesday night in Clinton before heading 22 miles down the river to Thursday's overnight stop in LeClaire. Krambeck looks forward to spending time that day with his son, James, 71. "It makes you feel old when you have a kid who's 71," he said.
But he's not old enough to give up his river paddling ways. Krambeck dreams of earning a Guinness Book of World Records entry if his health permits.
While in LeClaire, the group will camp on private property near the riverfront levee, visit the Buffalo Bill Museum and shops and eat at Sneaky Pete's Cowboy Steaks and Happy Joe's. The city is setting up showers, water and parking arrangements.
"We just see this as a great coup for LeClaire. They had several choices, and we are thrilled they chose LeClaire," said Donna Walley, LeClaire tourism manager.
Paddlers take off early Friday and will float past the Quad-Cities, spending the night in Andalusia on their way to Muscatine.
Sunday and Monday: Dubuque (Mud Lake) to Massey Marina Park (16 miles) to Bellevue, Iowa (18 miles)
Today: Bellevue to Sabula, Iowa (21 miles)
Wednesday: Sabula to Clinton, Iowa (16 miles)
Thursday: Clinton to LeClaire, Iowa (22 miles)
Friday: LeClaire to Andalusia, Ill. (24 miles)
Saturday: Andalusia to Muscatine, Iowa (18 miles) followed by farewell banquet in Muscatine