River of Grass Canoe Expedition 2014 – Miami River Canal out to Biscayne Bay

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River of Grass Canoe Expedition 2014 – Day IV

River of Grass Canoe Expedition 2014 – Miami River Canal out to Biscayne Bay.

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“Follow the water!”

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Continued from Day III:

River of Grass Canoe Expedition 2014 – Transition into city and civilization on the Miami River Canal

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Camping in the city on the grounds of the Miami Springs Lions Club was a whole different experience from the previous two nights. There was a lot of noise from cars and trucks rambling along Okeechobee Rd just across the river bank, and it never really got dark enough. On the plus side, there weren’t any more bugs at all, and very little morning dew condensation. The team awoke to a beautiful clear February day in South Florida, in other words as good as it gets!

Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak safety flag

Rise and shine! Canoe flags flutter in the breeze of the morning sun on the final day of the River of Grass 2014 Canoe Expedition on the Miami River Canal.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 Flex Maslan kayak florida

Team discusses morning webcast and plans on our final day of the expedition.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe Flex Maslan expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Team paddler Ted “Turbo” Hitchcock and organizer Chris Carl present the morning webcast!

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The morning school webcast focused on the changes that South Florida’s canal system has brought to the Everglades ecosystem over the last one hundred years. The restoration efforts now underway will take decades to unfold, but the Everglades will never return to it’s natural unadulterated state. The best we can hope for is a well managed approximation of the historic Kissimmee-Okeechobee-Everglades (K-O-E) system flow that delivers the right amount of clean water at the right time. Through water supply planning, the  South Florida Water Management District, along with other stakeholders is working to ensure clean water for the ever growing human population as well as for the Everglades environment over the next 50 – 100 years!

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Flex Maslan Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Expedition leader Chris Carl prepares notes for the final day.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Day IV: From Miami Springs out to Biscayne Bay!

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On this last day of the expedition, the team would paddle down the Miami River (also called the C-6 Canal) and out to sea on Biscayne Bay. There was an air of excitement as we set off in our five canoe flotilla!

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition

Early morning pigeon’s eye view of canoes and the Miami River canal.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak lions club

Launching of expedition canoes at the Miami Springs Lions Club.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle Flex Maslan River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Paddling under the East First Avenue bridge over the Miami River Canal.

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There is quite a bit of Miami history all along the Miami River! One example is the East First Avenue bridge, which is an interesting span-drive vertical lift bridge built back in 1928 by the Champion Bridge Company. It was originally located on the river at Northwest 36th Street, but in 1954 it was moved to its present location  – under which we paddled. Check out some interesting historical photos of Old Hialeah and Miami and notable bridges of Miami-Dade County!

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle Flex Maslan River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

FERA East First Ave bridge Miami canal in original location circa 1935.
Credit: State Archives of Florida, floridamemory.com

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak international airport

The Miami River passes right along the edge of Miami International Airport.
This is a very noisy place on the river!

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At the very busy interchange of Airport Expressway (112), Okeechobee Road, US 27, LeJeune Rd and NW 36 Street, airplanes screamed and climbed sharply into the sky while Miami motorists scooted around and above us in all directions! This area which is on the north east corner of Miami International Airport is also the location of the SFWMD control structure S-26. It is literally the dividing line between the freshwater of the Miami River canal and the brackish-salty water of the Miami River that from hence on out to Biscayne Bay effectively functions as a tidal inlet.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak s26 structure

Portage over the S-26 control structure that separates the fresh water from Lake Okeechobee and the salt water of Biscayne Bay.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 Flex Maslan kayak florida

Aerial view down the salty side of the Miami River canal.

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The main function of the salt water barriers like the S-26 is to prevent salt intrusion into the canal and also to underground freshwater aquifers and wells. The Floridan aquifer is the largest and lies under most of Florida, while the Biscayne aquifer provides drinking water for most people living in South Florida! Salt water intrusion has been an ongoing concern since the 1930’s, and was a direct result of uncontrolled canal dredging and subsequent extensive Everglades drainage. By the 1940’s the water table had been lowered enough that salt water from Biscayne Bay was rapidly creeping inland and poisoning water wells all over South Florida.

Note in the diagrams below that the salt water intrusion stops right at here the S-26 control structure, and this remains the case today!

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Dramatic saltwater intrusion in the mid 20th century in Miami and up the Miami River canal between 1904-1943.
Source: South Florida Information Access (SOFIA)

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In comparison saltwater intrusion in South Florida and up the Miami River canal in the period 1969-1995 has stabilized and even slightly reversed in some cases.
Source: South Florida Information Access (SOFIA)

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Flex Maslan Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Portage around the S-26 saltwater barrier structure.

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Once past the fresh/salt water separation line, the Miami River Canal transitions into a very industrial zone of shipyards, dry docks, giant freighters, containers and all kinds of machine noises in general. This was quite the contrast to the near total silence in the water conservation area canal section. The pictures below show what this area may have looked like a hundred years ago.

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Miami River lead 1907 kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 Flex Maslan kayak florida

A water lead in the Everglades that fed the Miami River in 1907.
Credit: State Archives of Florida, floridamemory.com

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Miami River indian village 1901 kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 Flex Maslan kayak florida

Indian trading post in 1901 on the Miami River.
Credit: State Archives of Florida, floridamemory.com

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Miami River seminole 1916 dugout kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 Flex Maslan kayak florida

Seminole native peoples in dugout canoes on the Miami River in 1916.
Credit: State Archives of Florida, floridamemory.com

Above and below: One hundred years apart – yesterday & today!

Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak shipyard

Moving into the industrial stretch of the Miami River canal.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida shipyard

Team paddles into “Miami’s Grand Canyon’ of ships and yards along the Miami River.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak shipyard

Heavy ocean freighters in the Miami River.

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Flex Maslan Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida floridamemory.com

Miami docks circa 1925.
Credit: State Archives of Florida, floridamemory.com

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Ships loaded with mostly old pickup trucks, SUVs, mattresses and bicycles getting ready to set sail to the Caribbean islands.

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Flex Maslan Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida floridamemory.com

Workers at the Miami docks in 1925.
Credit: State Archives of Florida, floridamemory.com

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 Flex Maslan kayak florida

Canoeing past a giant freighter ship. Peace!

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 After paddling past all the heavy industry, the shipping zone ends, and this is where at one time there were actual rapids on the Miami River! They were dynamited in 1908 as part of efforts to straighten and deepen the river into a navigable body of water for commerce and Everglades drainage. This resulted in a tremendous amount of silt that washed out into Biscayne Bay and the reduction of freshwater levels in the Everglades which allowed salt water to start seeping inland. In contrast to the pristine water that once flowed out of the river into Biscayne Bay, today’s Miami River canal is not a particularly clean body of water. The pollutants range from leaking residential and industrial waste and sewage, to stormwater runoff, to illegal dumping of hazardous wastes, to low dissolved oxygen concentrations and high fecal coliform levels. The Miami River Commission was created in 1998 to address these problems and propose solutions and initiatives. There is a lot of work to be done to clean up the Miami River!

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Miami River rapids 1896 kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 Flex Maslan kayak florida

Small rapids on the Miami River in 1896.
Credit: State Archives of Florida, floridamemory.com

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Miami River rapids 1896 kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 Flex Maslan kayak florida

Miami River rapids in 1896.
Credit: State Archives of Florida, floridamemory.com

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida R.S. Smith (1909) / Courtesy U.S. Geological Survey and History Miami Archives and Research Center

Running water rapids on the Miami River just before they were dymatited!
Credit R.S. Smith (1909) / U.S. Geological Survey and History Miami Archives and Research Center.

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Further downstream, Sewell Park was a natural choice to break for lunch. It has a canoe/kayak ramp and is one of the last few examples of what the natural shoreline of the Miami River once looked like. We had lunch under one of the tall Royal Palms and prepared for our last expedition webcast.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak sewell park aerial

Afternoon webcast and lunch break at the Sewell Park canoe/kayak launch spot on the Miami River.

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Flex Maslan Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

A tug maneuvers the huge MIAMI SUPER ship past the expedition canoes at Sewell Park.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak sewell park

A giant freighter snakes through the Miami River at Sewell Park.

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Flex Maslan Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

The expedition’s youngest paddler Ted “Turbo” Hitchcock rests in the shade for the final stretch!

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle Flex Maslan River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Thanks to Esther Luft for this great shot of River of Grass 2014 Canoe Expedition leader Chris Carl!

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On the expedition’s final school webcast the team answered student’s questions about the flow of the water, the river itself and our impending exit out to sea. Expedition leader Chris Carl in his closing statement reminded listeners that even though the Everglades has been changed dramatically, we are all still a part of it. The story of the water from Lake Okeechobee to Miami is everyone’s story because it flows all around us and we all depend on it to sustain our busy modern lives!

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Flex Maslan Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Afternoon school webcast at Sewell Park on the Miami River canal.

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Flex Maslan Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Setting out from Sewell Park. Next stop: Key Biscayne!

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 Flex Maslan kayak florida

Paddling under the 17th Avenue bridge.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle Flex Maslan River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Thanks to Rick Poston for this great shot of me and Charlie paddling under a bridge on the Miami River canal!

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle Flex Maslan River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Thanks to Rick Poston for this excellent view of expedition team paddling out towards the Dolphin Expressway!

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Canoeing on the Miami River towards downtown.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak i-95

Paddling under the elevated I-95 over the Miami River.

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Here’s some food for thought about the potential fate of Miami and South Florida:  “Goodbye, Miami” – from Rolling Stone magazine.

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Miami River canal 1912 kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 Flex Maslan kayak florida

Original stretch of the Miami River along side the newly dredged Miami River Canal in 1912.
Credit: State Archives of Florida, floridamemory.com

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak circle

Behind us is the Brickell Avenue / Hwy 41 / US 1 bridge – the last one before Biscayne Bay!

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Flex Maslan Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Paddling by another historic landmark, the Miami Circle.
Sadly, this link to the past is effectively a “dog” park today~!

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Expedition team approaching the inlet (or “mouth”) of the Miami River canal.

Above and below: Today and yesteryear!

Miami River mouth royal palm hotel 1900 kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 Flex Maslan kayak florida

Mouth of the Miami River and the Royal Palm hotel in 1900.
Credit: State Archives of Florida, floridamemory.com

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 Before there was the hotel InterContinental we see today, there was Henry Flagler‘s Royal Palm hotel. Before that, there was Fort Dallas, pictured below a few years after being established on the slave plantation of William English who settled there at the end of the Second Seminole War. The land was sporadically occupied for 300 years prior to that as part of Spanish Florida, and for thousands of years by native Tequesta tribes who built many settlements along the Miami River and Key Biscayne.

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Miami River 1869 kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 Flex Maslan kayak florida

A depiction of Fort Dallas at the mouth of the Miami River in 1869.
Credit: State Archives of Florida, floridamemory.com

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida Historical Museum of South Florida, Ralph Middleton Monroe Collection.

Freshwater spring in the middle of Biscayne Bay circa 1890!
Credit: Historical Museum of South Florida, Ralph Middleton Monroe Collecition.

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Before the Miami River was dynamited, straightened and dredged, there was so much hydraulic “head” (positive pressure) that there were freshwater springs bubbling up in the middle of (salty) Biscayne Bay. Imagine finding one of these “freshwater boils” as they were called, lowering a bucket and pulling up drinking water right from the sea !

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak rickenbacker biscayne

Charlie Arazoza of www.bushpaddlers.org frames the Rickenbacker Causeway on Biscayne Bay.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak key biscayne

Arrival at last and the finish of the River of Grass 2014 Canoe Expedition on Key Biscayne!

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak biscayne aerial

Aerial seagull’s eye view of the five expedition canoes on Key Biscayne.

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Congrats to the expedition team for a job well done! The team paddled just about 50 miles in total along Lake Okeechobee and down the the Miami River canal and reached a significant number of students in area schools with the twice daily webcasts. We learned a lot along the way, and I learned even more putting together this four part story for you.

I hope you have enjoyed following along with the expedition and learning about South Florida, Miami and the Everglades!

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 Flex Maslan kayak florida

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak biscayne

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak biscayne

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Flex Maslan Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida ARMF Marshall Foundation

Mission: Accomplished!

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Cheers! Salud!

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River of Grass 2014 Canoe Expedition team paddlers:

Chris Carl
Susan Sylvester
Charlie Arazoza
Janet Talbot
Victor Suarez
Tomas Boiton
Mark Yasenchak
Hope Hitchcock
Ted Hitchcock
Dr Julien Zaragoza (guest paddler)
Flex Maslan aka “Kayakfari

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Support:

Gisa Wagner – Expedition support, Chef and all around super-woman!
Ron Haines – Expedition support, shuttling and moral support!
Tara Bardi – Expedition webcast technical logistics
Elaine Meier – PR
Marshall & Nicole Jones of Mack’s Fish Camp – Camp host
Esther Luft – Expedition logistics
Rick Poston – Expedition photography & all around good guy!
Staff and support of the Athur R. Marshall Foundation !
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Additional photographs from the expedition provided by Susan Sylvester, Victor Suarez, Rick Poston, Esther Luft, Leonard Bryant and the Arthur R. Marshall Foundation.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida map

River of Grass 2014 Canoe Expedition route.

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The End

(But the River of Grass must keep flowing!)

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rasta happy kayakfari kayak canoe paddle photography adventure

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© 2014 Flex Maslan / kayakfari.com / digital029art.com. All original photographs, artworks and music in this portfolio are copyrighted and owned by the artist, Flex Maslan, unless otherwise noted. Any reproduction, modification, publication, transmission, transfer, or exploitation of any of the content, for personal or commercial use, whether in whole or in part, without written permission from the artist is strictly prohibited.

All rights reserved.

DISCLAIMER:: The maps and images on this site are not intended for navigation, I am not a guide; use any and all information at your own risk! Your mileage may vary .. so use good judgement before venturing out!

With that said..
Blessings friends!

🙂

2 comments on “River of Grass Canoe Expedition 2014 – Miami River Canal out to Biscayne Bay

  1. Pingback: River of Grass Canoe Expedition 2014: Lake Okeechobee – Miami River Canal – Biscayne Bay | kayakfari ( kayak .. far .. i )

  2. Pingback: Spooky night time filming on the Miami River with ARTE (Euro TV) | kayakfari ( kayak .. far .. i )

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