Monday, August 28, 2017

Chapter One - "Upside Down in the Yukon River"








                                             Steven M. Cannon



I wanted the gold, and I sought it;
I scrabbled and mucked like a slave.
Was it famine or scurvy—I fought it;
I hurled my youth into a grave.
I wanted the gold, and I got it—
Came out with a fortune last fall,—
Yet somehow life's not what I thought it,
And somehow the gold isn't all.
No! There's the land. (Have you seen it?)
It's the cussedest land that I know,
From the big, dizzy mountains that screen it
To the deep, deathlike valleys below.
Some say God was tired when He made it;
Some say it's a fine land to shun;
Maybe; but there's some as would trade it
For no land on earth—and I'm one.
You come to get rich (damned good reason);
You feel like an exile at first;
You hate it like hell for a season,
And then you are worse than the worst.
It grips you like some kinds of sinning;
It twists you from foe to a friend;
It seems it's been since the beginning;
It seems it will be to the end.
I've stood in some mighty-mouthed hollow
That's plumb-full of hush to the brim;
I've watched the big, husky sun wallow
In crimson and gold, and grow dim,
Till the moon set the pearly peaks gleaming,
And the stars tumbled out, neck and crop;
And I've thought that I surely was dreaming,
With the peace o' the world piled on top.
The summer—no sweeter was ever;
The sunshiny woods all athrill;
The grayling aleap in the river,
The bighorn asleep on the hill.
The strong life that never knows harness;
The wilds where the caribou call;
The freshness, the freedom, the farness—
O God! how I'm stuck on it all.
The winter! the brightness that blinds you,
The white land locked tight as a drum,
The cold fear that follows and finds you,
The silence that bludgeons you dumb.
The snows that are older than history,
The woods where the weird shadows slant;
The stillness, the moonlight, the mystery,
I've bade 'em good-by—but I can't.
There's a land where the mountains are nameless,
And the rivers all run God knows where;
There are lives that are erring and aimless,
And deaths that just hang by a hair;
There are hardships that nobody reckons;
There are valleys unpeopled and still;
There's a land—oh, it beckons and beckons,
And I want to go back—and I will.
They're making my money diminish;
I'm sick of the taste of champagne.
Thank God! when I'm skinned to a finish
I'll pike to the Yukon again.
I'll fight—and you bet it's no sham-fight;
It's hell!—but I've been there before;
And it's better than this by a damsite—
So me for the Yukon once more.
There's gold, and it's haunting and haunting;
It's luring me on as of old;
Yet it isn't the gold that I'm wanting
So much as just finding the gold.
It's the great, big, broad land 'way up yonder,
It's the forests where silence has lease;
It's the beauty that thrills me with wonder,
It's the stillness that fills me with peace.

From The Spell of the Yukon and Other Verses by Robert W. Service. Published 1907 in New York by Barse & Hopkins, Publishers. Now in the Public Domain in the USA and other countries.
Retrieved 23 June 2017 from

Chapter 1

Open your eyes and grab the release on the spray skirt. These are not the murky river waters from back home in Iowa. You’ll be able to see it easily in these waters and get yourself free of this mess.
I felt no panic, no fear—which would have seemed odd to anyone witnessing my dilemma from the riverbank. I was upside down in the Yukon River, trapped in my kayak and unable to get free.
Racers were warned that this lake—Lake Laberge—had been the demise of many because of its size and unstable weather patterns. The weather had sucked, for the most part, the entire week leading up to the event. It had been an unseasonably cold and wet spring in this part of the Yukon Territory. In most years, by June the sun was a more constant companion, and the spring rains had waned. Even in the warmest, most stable of years, it was commonplace for an afternoon storm to whip this lake into a frenzy, dump those in its way, and then disappear once content with the havoc it had wreaked. This was where DNFs (“did not finish”) were made.
Over thirty miles long, the lake was a wide spot in the Yukon River that stretched as much as three miles side to side. Very seldom was the year that someone didn’t end up capsized; which was exactly where I found myself at that moment. Most who made it across the lake made it to the Carmacks checkpoint; nearly 87 percent of the people who made that checkpoint finished the race. I hoped only to get free of the kayak before it become my waterlogged coffin.
For the hour before, I had been surfing ever-increasing swells. I reflected back to the pre-race meeting. It was mandated that all of us taking on the Yukon River Quest remain within a quarter-mile of the shore. They explained that this made sense for a couple of reasons. First, if your kayak or canoe capsized, it would be possible to get yourself to shore before hypothermia killed you. Second, the further from shore, the bigger the waves. Kayaking back home in Iowa had provided little opportunity—ok, no opportunity—to practice whitecap paddling like this.
Fear could be a good thing at times. Certainly, this was one of those times. But there was also a balance to be struck. Thirty miles to get across this beast was the distance “as the crow flies.” As the crow flies meant point to point, and that meant straight down the middle of the lake; which was not an option. The event rules made it clear that the quarter-mile-from-shore limit was not negotiable. The seemingly serene, calm waters were fool’s gold. Much like during the gold rush from a time long ago that drew explorers here, danger or worse waited for those who did not give this place its due respect. And, if caught too far from shore, you would be scolded. Ignore the scoldings, and you would be disqualified. The race directors had an ample number of stories to justify their rules. With waves on the lake now a couple feet and growing, I was about to become one of their stories.

So.....What do you think? Would you like to read more? If so, subscribe to the blog and you'll be in the loop. Until next time, dream BIG dreams. 

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Copyright© 2017 by Steve M. Cannon All rights reserved.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Upside Down in the Yukon River - Cover Unveil


          Y'all are the first to see the new cover.
                      What do you think???

If all goes well, Upside Down in the Yukon River will release in the next month, perhaps sooner. I can't believe it. How does a kid that got a 12 on his English ACT's write a book?!?! (Let alone 2) 

Thank goodness for great editors!

Before we get to the cover though, How about you join me for an amazing cup of jo and a chat?!?!?!

We will be announcing the release date soon and an opportunity to own it for the "early bird" price of $0.99! Want to be on that list? Click HERE to do so and as a bonus you will get my first book "40 DAYS" FREE for yourself or give it to a friend if you already own a copy. it is!!! What do you think????


Thank you for being a part of my journey.
Until next time...

Steve Cannon