“One Woman’s River” is a book about Ellen Kolbo McDonah’s 2014 solo, source to sea paddle down the Mississippi River in a kayak named “Inspiration.” Experience scenes like the towering cityscape of New Orleans, her camp at the Gulf of Mexico, and sunsets from Lake Itasca all the way down the river, seen from the perspective of an artist's fourteen and one half foot kayak. With over 40 color paintings, 53 chapter illustrations, and 18 sketches in the book! Learn the story of determination and hope told first hand by Ellen, who celebrated her 60th birthday at the head waters of the Mississippi River marshes during the second day of her journey.

     The first woman to accomplish this goal, she shares a unique perspective on this 2,350 mile expedition by infusing her own artwork with stories and pictures about her one-hundred and seven day challenging and creative passage. Let Ellen share the inspiration that she found on the Mississippi River that will motivate you to

“Never say never.”




The River

Know the river on a deeper level, through the words and artwork of a kayaking artist at less than 5 miles per hour. Throw out the oatmeal, and pack the water colors and Conte crayons, we're in for a ride!


The People

Ellen gifted people who helped her along the way with artwork. One individual over 65 years old, had never received artwork as a gift before. The last donation was given on the final day of the voyage. Four portraits were created to honor significant river angels who helped along the way.


The Challenge

 How does a person who paddles all day find time to sketch and journal? Sometimes my hands were swollen, and occasionally rainy days presented good opportunities for painting, sketching, and writing. No wonder I needed creative breaks, there's a lot of inspiration there!


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