Kayak Lady to talk bucket lists at nature center

Published 3:02 pm Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Mary Shideler, known as the Kayak Lady, will speak at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center on Thursday.  Photo provided

Mary Shideler, known as the Kayak Lady, will speak at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center on Thursday. Photo provided

Mary Shideler, known as the Kayak Lady, is coming to the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center Thursday to share her adventures kayaking more than 1,000 lakes throughout Itasca County.

She will give three presentations, including a senior program called “Your Bucket List,” at 9 a.m., a children’s program at 1:30 p.m. and an evening program at 7 p.m.

Shideler will discuss her kayaking adventure, which was one of the main goals of her bucket list. According to Shideler, she got the idea of a bucket list from her mother, who started one at age 80 and followed through with most of her goals.

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Shideler’s list got her skydiving, climbing the Great Wall of China, riding an elephant in Zimbabwe and riding a mechanical bull. However, one of Mary’s most difficult entries was kayaking all 1,007 lakes in Itasca County.

Shideler gained interest in the plethora of lakes in Itasca county during her childhood. She grew up just north of Grand Rapids, and lived near a large lake.

“I am 50 percent Russian, and 100 percent curious,” she said. “I grew up on a lake, so I wanted to see what was out there.”

Years later, Shideler was searching for an adventure, and kayaking Itasca County’s lakes seemed the most obvious. She and her husband bought a kit, and they began building a kayak.

“I was too little to carry a canoe, so my husband and I built a kayak,” she said.

After constructing the kayak, she began the voyage. Sixteen years and a lot of paddling later, Shideler had finished kayaking all 1,007 lakes.

“People want to find adventures of their own,” she said. “Be inspired, energetic and entertained.”

Shideler has finished most of her bucket list entries, including writing a book. She plans to visit Antarctica to finish another goal — visiting all seven continents.

Nowadays, Shideler travels the region sharing her life’s adventures with her audience. She presents to church groups, Rotary conventions, AAUW conventions and other audiences.

Her evening presentation will include dozens of pictures from her adventures. She is also bringing her kayak paddle and will show it to the children for the afternoon show. The children’s show will be “very show-and-tell like,” she said.

“I invite people to come and hear the presentation,” she said. “You don’t have to be a kayaker to enjoy the presentations.”

Afterward, Shideler will sell signed copies of her book, “The Kayak Lady,” and sign photo cards. For more information, call the Nature Center at 507-437-7519.


Minnesota folktales

Before the Kayak Lady visits Austin, a familiar storyteller will be in town.

Kevin Strauss will return to the Nature Center at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow for “Minnesota Tales: French, Swedish and Native Tales” at the Ruby Rupner Auditorium.

Strauss, an award-winning author, naturalist and storyteller, said the free event is for all ages, and he mixes folktales with new stories and science information.

Call the Nature Center at 507-437-7519 or email jchnatur@smig.net for more information.