Paddling From Minnesota to Key West: The First ‘Outside’ Adventure Grant Winner

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In celebration of our 35th anniversary, we created the first-ever Outside Adventure Grant, a $10,000 endowment meant to help fund a smart, creative, and (perhaps) slightly foolhardy project. We asked applicants to submit basic contact information, a two-minute video, and a 500-word essay describing their adventure and why they would be uniquely qualified to pull it off. Hundreds of you wrote in.

When our submission page closed in mid-May a team of editors went to work reading through the applications and watching your videos. We narrowed the pool down to five finalists (including a project to pedal across Siberia, from Vladivostok to Leningrad, and one to travel the length of Thailand in a tuk-tuk) and then built a special Facebook application to turn the voting over to you. We received more than 6,000 votes in two weeks, with about one-third of them going to our winner, Daniel Alvarez. (You can still visit the app to watch the videos and read the essays our five finalists submitted.)

Daniel is planning to paddle from the northern tip of Minnesota—the northernmost point in the contiguous United States—all the way down to Key West. That means he'll cover about 4,000 miles of lakes, rivers, and ocean, including parts of the Gulf of Mexico and the Florida Everglades, by kayak.

A more complete description of the project from Daniel himself:

“Four thousand miles of lakes, rivers, and ocean connect the northern tip of Minnesota to Key West. Most people would take a plane to travel this distance, but then all they would see is the inside of a metal tube and a SkyMall catalog. Starting in mid-June, my online journal will give people a chance to see America in a way they never thought possible: kayaking a unique route through the heart of America. I’ll start at the Northwest Angle, the northernmost point in the contiguous United States, and head east on old paddling trails until I reach Lake Superior. Turning south, I will connect to the Mississippi River and paddle to the river’s mouth, in New Orleans. I’ll enter the Gulf of Mexico, heading east and south along Florida’s beaches, then disappear into the mazes of the Everglades until I reach the long string of islands stretching out to Key West.”

—Nicholas Jackson

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