Couple journey 11,000 miles with a purpose
The afternoon was too beautiful not to go to class. So, Amy and Dave Freeman turned down a room on Saturday and pitched a tent on a barrier island beach near Charleston.
If you go
WHAT: Amy and Dave Freeman, stop in Charleston to talk about their expedition
WHEN: Monday, 7 p.m.
WHERE: Providence Baptist Church, 294 Seven Farms Drive, Daniel Island.
For more information:lowcountrypaddlers.net.
There, they laid the solar panels across their sea kayaks, pulled out the computer, cameras, video and started to teach. After all, some 75,000 students and 2,600 teachers across the world were waiting online to hear about the Lowcountry wild — just like they heard about Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey, paddling past the Statue of Liberty at dawn in New York City, running a sled dog team across the Canadian Rockies and having humpback whales surface alongside the boats offshore Alaska.
Yeah, the Freemans aren’t your usual educators. They run the nonprofit Wilderness Classroom, which takes students along for the ride as the couple searches out wild places.
It is, Amy Freeman concedes, “kind of crazy.” But, hey, it’s a living.
The couple are on the last legs of a trek that started in Seattle on Earth Day, 2010. The goal is to reach Key West, Fla. in April for Earth Day 2013.
The 11,000-mile North American Odyssey by kayak, dogsled and canoe is just the latest outing for the 30-something-year-old Minnesota couple who met kayaking on Lake Superior and decided they were meant for each other after paddling the entire lake.
Not every couple would still be in love after canoeing the Amazon, waiting for an ice road to form in the Northwest Territories to begin a January dog sled trip, or hunkering down for Hurricane Sandy in Barnegat, N.J., just before it hit there.
But asked how they are getting along, they look at each other and grin.
“Pretty well, actually,” Dave Freeman said.
Until they hit resupplies, they live on meals such as pasta or rice and beans, oatmeal, granola or tuna. Because the point is to teach kids in school, they travel mostly in fall and winter months, taking extended breaks between legs.
The biggest surprise of this trip so far?
“The warm weather we just had,” Amy Freeman said with that grin.
They live for it. They listened in the dark the other night as dolphin were strand feeding by their tent on a beach near Bulls Bay.
They have met up with grizzlies and paddled along with caribou herds in the far North. They watched from a gravel bar in a river as a huge forest fire bore down on them before stopping at the bank.
“You could feel the heat like you were standing next to a campfire and the fire was still a quarter mile away,” Dave Freeman said.
So, at what point did they start to wonder whether this trip was really that good an idea?
“We’re still going, so we haven’t reached that point yet,” Amy Freeman said. And the couple grinned.