Paddling Alabama: The Backstory

Didn’t matter, I was off and running crafting a proposal which was accepted almost as fast as it was put together. But I knew that unlike the hiking book it would take two to tango – I needed someone to help carry the canoe and shuttle, after all.

 Just joking, of course, but I would definitely need some help with this one. I was working my day job as a software programmer when I turned to my office mate and said, “Let’s go canoeing” then under my breath I said, “and write a book about it.” It didn’t take much persuasion and Curt Burdick joined me for the adventure and what an adventure it was.

Paddling Alabama was one of those cases where you had to read those emails carefully, and read between the lines, to see what they were getting at. 

 I had just finished the first edition of Hiking Alabama for a small Virginia company, Beachway Press. After the book’s publication the company was purchased by a larger publisher, Globe Pequot Press (who, only recently, was purchased by Rowman and Littlefield). They immediately re-branded the title and re-released that first edition under their own moniker, Falcon Guides.

he pulls out a gun! We knew we were dead. Turns out he was the local constable and he was drawing the gun to kill snakes. Life spared. 

Like I said, it was a lot of fun to write the book and by the time it was over I think Curt was quite through with seeing me week after week. The last thing we had to do was take our author photo for the book. We wanted it to be a picture of us sitting on opposite ends of a canoe facing opposite directions trying to paddle away from each other. I don't know if it was the publisher or our better judgement that made us change our mind about that photo.

The original acquisitions editor for Beachway who gave me my break with Hiking Alabama wrote to me to tell me how well the book was doing, gave me some tips on promoting it, and casually mentioned that their series of books on canoeing and kayaking was doing very well. That’s all. No suggestion about writing a book. Just a straight forward, out-of-the-blue remark, “our paddling series is doing very well.”

Huh. Ok. I’m getting the hint…? Was it a hint? 
The main problem was that we had to do the research in the summer and as all of you know by now, with the exception of the state's big rivers most rivers, creeks, and streams in the state are seasonal. They dry up in summer. Not a good time to go canoeing. Sometimes we felt like we should have renamed the book, “Walking the Rivers of Alabama”.

But Curt and I had a blast researching it, floating the rivers, shooting some rapids, and camping out.

 Oh, and there are stories to tell like when we went to Coosa County and couldn't find a place to put in on one river. A big, burly fella came out of a mobile home and had us follow behind his pickup where he led us deep into the woods to what he said was the put-in. When we got there and jumped out of the car, 

FacebookLink-Joe Cuhaj
We've been asked, "did you paddle over Factory Falls on Bear Creek. Hardly! 
Publisher: FalconGuides
Edition: 1st Edition
Release Date: October 1, 2002
​Pages: 240 Pages
Price: $22.95
ISBN-10: 0762721928
ISBN-13: 978-0762721924

That's me, making notes at a stopping point on the Perdido River alongside our canoe, the "Titanic".