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London man canoes down Missouri River

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London man canoes down Missouri River
Englishman Julian Wedgwood, center, says goodbye to Carmen Bornholtz, right, of Sioux City as his brother, Von Bornholtz, left, puts some other items into Wedgwood's canoe near the Scenic Park Campground in South Sioux City. (Staff photo by Jerry Mennenga)

For Jolian Wedgwood, there's no better time than sunrise, and there's no better place to be than in his weathered green canoe -- setting out on another adventure.

Wedgwood, a 70-year-old from London, is traveling the Missouri River, hoping to reach his journey's end in New Orleans. He stopped to talk about his adventures at the Sioux City Boys and Girls Home on Tuesday.

Wedgwood arrived in Calgary, Canada, from London. His son, who is a ranger at Jasper National Park in Calgary, drove him to Helena, Mont., where he picked up his canoe. At the top of the Beaverhead River, Wedgwood began his voyage down the Missouri River.

Upon arriving in Sioux City, Wedgwood has traveled nearly 1,300 miles of the 2,000 mile trip.

"It's been a wonderful trip," Wedgwood said. "It's great if I can alter the lives of maybe one or two people by my experiences."

Wedgwood has many tales written down in his journal, but his tan weather-beaten skin and the scrapes on his arms alone can tell a story.

Born into a prominent English family, known throughout the world for its fine pottery, Wedgwood has grown up in the limelight. His great-great uncle was Charles Darwin and his aunt was a highly respected academic at Princeton University school of academic studies. Although a history of academics and artistry runs in the family, so does the need for adventure.

Two years ago he biked from Baja, Calif., to the Yucatan Peninsula. He has also biked across the state of Texas. It took him 14 days.

Wedgwood's adventure's, however, have never been without risk. He suffered a close call on a biking trip to Sicily four years ago, where he was hit by a car.

"I was lying in a hospital," he said. "All I could think of is how am I going to get out of this one."

Nothing appears to phase this 70-year-old; he is going back to Sicily next year.

Wedgwood's closest call, however, came on his current voyage. Nearly swept over the rapids along with his life jacket and canoe, the main concern on Wedgwood's mind, however, was not his own safety, but the safety of his journal, a testament of his mere existence.

"I've had some colossal disasters," he said. "My canoe was swept over some very dangerous rapids."

Luckily for Wedgwood, a man living along the banks of the river helped him out; repairing is outboard motor. Wedgwood, who travels alone, said the people he has met along the way have been more impressive than the wildlife or scenery that he has seen along the river.

"The people have been so charming," Wedgwood said.

At the end of his journey Wedgwood will return to London, a city recently shaken by terrorist attacks. Resilient like himself, Wedgwood said he thinks the city will recover stronger than ever.

"The people I feel sorry for are the people in the wrong place at the wrong time," he said. "You just don't take on the Brits. You just dust yourself off and go on."

For Wedgwood the end of his adventures are nowhere near in sight. He hopes to continue traveling well into his 80s and write a book about his trip down the Missouri River.

"I've had a very free-thinking lovely experience," he said. "I bet I'm the first one in England to go down the Missouri this year and last year and any year."


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