WAVERLY — Richard Schroeder and his nephew, Mike Barth, will embark on a kayaking journey down the Cedar River to the Mississippi starting Friday.
“I’ve seen a lot of people through kayaking on the Mississippi, but I’ve never seen anyone kayaking through here,” said Schroeder. “I know it’s been done –- I’m not the first or nothing — it’s something people don’t typically do. I don’t know of anybody else who has done it.”
He has owned his kayak for about five years, but hasn’t yet had much of an opportunity to use it much.
He and his wife, Deb, have lived in a house on the Cedar River in Waverly since 1993.
“I used to live on the river in Waterloo on Cedar Bend, [and] I hadn’t thought of it then, but I’ve lived on the river for about 43 years now,” said Schroeder. “I just thought, ‘well, I’ve been watching the river go by for all these years, I’m gonna follow it to the Mississippi.’”
His favorite part about living on the river is the constant view.
“Seeing the river in all of the different seasons and stuff [and] the wildlife coming by; it’s just wonderful living on the river,” Schroeder said.
The pair expects the trip to New Boston, Ill., to take nine days. That where the Iowa River meets the Mississippi. The Cedar flows into the Iowa River.
“It’s kind of hard to tell how far it is because there really aren’t too many accurate maps,” Schroeder said. “I’m thinking it’s going to be 180 miles.”
For Barth, it was a decision made on a whim.
“It was a spur of the moment decision for me,” Barth said. “It sounded fun.”
Schroeder recently retired after being the manager of new construction at Eisenach Village in Waverly, an independent living division of Bartels Lutheran Community.
“I had as many as 13 homes under construction,” Schroeder said. “Now I can relax with a hundred-plus-mile kayak trip.”
Retired life is suiting him.
“I enjoy it immensely,” Schroeder said. “I’ve been very, very, very busy, and I don’t plan on slowing down in the near future. I would rather wear out than rust out.”
He is most excited for the adventure because he wants to cross it off his bucket list.
“I would just like to get it done,” Schroeder said. “I’ve been talking about it for a long time, and I like to get things done.”
Their kayaks are equipped with food, water, a tent, sleeping bags and clothes, as well as wheels for portages, or going around the dams. They’re hoping the flooding will have gone down so there will be sandbars to camp on.
They are planning to stop in Janesville on the first night, get to the south side of Waterloo on the second, to Vinton on the next, Cedar Rapids on the fourth night and then down to Sutliff Tavern in Lisbon. They’ll meet the Iowa River in Fredonia and eventually end up in New Boston, Ill., at the Mississippi.