Picture from Marc's Pittsburgh to New Orleans Trip, Courtesy of Marc Oddo

Marc Oddo is heading to Europe this Summer for an incredible kayak adventure

By Elena Shahen, 2019 Summer Intern

Marc Oddo, a Pittsburgh Native, will be embarking overseas on June 5th  to the Danube River. This is where he and a friend plan to kayak almost 2,000 miles. This is his second big Kayaking adventure.

Marc’s first big trip happened a few years ago. He saved up enough money working at Kayak Pittsburgh to paddle from the North Shore Kayak Pittsburgh location, all the way to New Orleans.

He first fell in love with kayaking when a friend gave him a kayak and he used it as a mode of transportation to get back and forth from work every day. 

I’m chasing clarity and a calm mind, and I feel like I should at least learn to appreciate life before I die
- Marc Oddo

Marc is inspired to take long paddling trips with two simple things in mind; the first being that he is going to die one day, and the second is clarity. Marc explained how kayaking allows him the space to think without worries of the past, present, or future. The river can pull his worries away on its current.

I’m chasing clarity and a calm mind, and I feel like I should at least learn to appreciate life before I die,” said Marc. More specifically, Marc has an appreciation for being able to wash his clothes and hair in the river every morning.

Picture from Marc's Pittsburgh to New Orleans Trip, Courtesy of Marc Oddo

So Marc takes to the water again, but this time he’ll be passing through 11 or 12 different Eastern European Countries. His journey will  begin in the Black Hills of Germany and end down at the Black Sea of Romania. This trip will take 2 to 3 months, with Marc averaging about 25 to 35 miles of paddling per day.

This is not new to him, being that he had paddled between 45 to 70 miles a day on the Ohio and Mississippi. Marc says he plans on steadily moving down the river, but looks forward to stopping in the bigger cities to check out any National Forests, Monastery Breweries, or other beautiful attractions along the way.

One of Marc’s favorite kayaking memories was when he pulled an overnight paddle during a full moon. He was coming from Louisville and was passing Fort Knox when Marc and his friend thought they both saw a UFO.

The rest of the night was eery, foggy, and quiet. By the time the sun rose and he could see the mile markers, Marc realized they had paddled over 70 miles. After that he found an amazing camp spot on the side of a cliff, and had the best sleep of his life.  

Picture from Marc's Pittsburgh to New Orleans Trip, Courtesy of Marc Oddo

“I’m still wary of taking on more exotic rivers of the world, so this is kind of a kiddie hill for me. I’ll get to understand logistics of travel better and hopefully it will lead me to other amazing river adventures across the world,” said Marc.

For his Europe trip, Marc is preparing for anything that could happen, from bad weather to gypsy robberies,  or maybe even some aggressive wildlife. He has only packed the essentials, tarp, hammock, bug net, cooking supplies, and rain gear. As for clothing he is taking a more unconventional approach and plans on having one pair of zippable pants, water shoes, and one or two shirts. One shirt reppin Venture Outdoors 🙂

Marc feels that his first steps at Kayak Pittsburgh is what lead him to go out and take big adventures like this one. Not only does he credit Kayak Pittsburgh for helping him learn how to judge if a river is save to paddle, river navigation, kayaking techniques, and general safety, but how Kayak Pittsburgh taught him about being okay with being an amateur.  

Picture from Marc's Pittsburgh to New Orleans Trip, Courtesy of Marc Oddo

“Seeing people kayak for the 1st time and coming back with huge smiles on their faces made me feel like if they can do it for an hour out there, I can do or a few hours anywhere,” said Marc.

So what is next for Marc Oddo? He definitely wants to plan for another big river trip next spring or even travel to the Southern Hemisphere for a paddle in the winter. Marc tells us he has something exciting brewing up in Sicily in September and will update us more when he can talk about it.  

I know everyone here at Venture Outdoors and Kayak Pittsburgh look forward to seeing Marcs updates on this journey, and if you want to learn more about his last big trip you can check out his blog 

Marc Oddo

When we look back at how we are today and our successes, we tend to think of our hardships first. So I say bring it on, and hopefully there will at least be a cold beer waiting for me somewhere.”

-Marc Oddo

Hey! Feeling inspired from Marc's Story?

Want to learn how you can get on the river? Get your feet wet and become a member at Venture Outdoors!

By: Danielle Levsky, new Communications and Media Coordinator

The kayaks all lined up and ready to go at North Shore.
The kayaks all lined up and ready to go at Kayak Pittsburgh – North Shore.

My move to Pittsburgh has been an adventure. I was offered the Communications and Media Coordinator position at Venture Outdoors at the start of August, and soon as I accepted, the gears started turning (and have not stopped since).
This isn’t my first rodeo with Pittsburgh. I spent my undergraduate years studying English and French at the University of Pittsburgh, getting to know the ins and outs of the city’s neighborhoods and surrounding parks. Even after I returned to Chicago, I longed to come back to Pittsburgh, the east coast’s treasure trove of cityscape and natural wonder.
I arrived and moved into my Pittsburgh studio on Sunday, August 23, then went to my first day of work the next day. I was starting at an interesting time: Kayak Pittsburgh’s season was coming to a close and planning for the following year was in the works. Our staff retreat was held on my second and third days of work where I learned more about our organization and staff than most people experience when starting a new job. We reviewed our program and mission accomplishments, set goals and brainstormed ideas for the future, climbed trees in our Executive Director’s front yard, and participated in a variety of team building activities. It was remarkably refreshing to get to know the personalities and goals of each of my coworkers so quickly. Since I would have a hand in working with each of them as I created social media, newsletter, and website content, I had a great foundation to start communicating in the most effective manner possible. As someone with the word ‘communications’ in her title, I’d say that’s pretty extraordinary.
During my on-boarding experience, I had a chance to meet with staff members individually and see how I could help them out. Two of my favorite meetings took place in most untraditional workplace settings: the Allegheny River and North Park Lake. As I had never been on a Kayak Pittsburgh paddle, our Kayak Pittsburgh Manager Vanessa Bashur and her adorable Pomeranian Penny took me to both locations so I could get to know the unique experience each venue had to offer.
Alex Keim sets up our kayaks at Kayak Pittsburgh - North Shore. Check out that beautiful skyline in the distance.
Alex Keim sets up our kayaks at Kayak Pittsburgh – North Shore. Check out that beautiful skyline in the distance.

At North Shore, the attendants were friendly and helpful in showing first or fiftieth time customers the ropes: signing a liability waiver, getting them strapped into their PFDs, going over the basics of kayaking, and launching customers into the Allegheny. It had been my first time kayaking in a year so I was reasonably nervous to get back into it. Penny, on the other hand, is a seasoned kayaker and couldn’t wait to get into Vanessa’s boat. I climbed into the yellow kayak with my paddle, grinning at Alex Keim who was helping Vanessa and me get our kayaks off the launching pad. “You ready?” he asked me and I nodded, bracing myself as I was launched into the water. I immediately began rowing my paddle to the left and right to steady myself, finally relearning the trick to hold the paddle in the water to steady myself, Vanessa and I took off in the direction of Point State Park, talking about Kayak Pittsburgh’s history and goals. We watched out for “water traffic,” like touring boats and service boats, as we crossed the river. Penny contributed her two cents, barking to us about the other kayakers we passed by on the water. We stopped several times along the way to marvel at the Pittsburgh skyline, the fountain at Point State Park peeking out next to the Fort Duquesne Bridge.
From left to right: Macie Ellis, Princess Penny and Vanessa Bashur
From left to right: Macie Ellis, Princess Penny and Vanessa Bashur lounging on the lake at Kayak Pittsburgh – North Park.

Then, we headed over to our second location for a little change of scenery. Fourteen miles out of the city and into the winding roads of North Park led us to the boat house, where more friendly attendants talked to me about kayaks, canoes, rowboats, Stand Up Paddle Boarding, and adult bikes. This time, Penny and I were both ready to get in the water. Vanessa, Penny and I were joined by Kayak Pittsburgh Site Supervisor Macie Ellis. Though my view couldn’t be more different than the first paddle, the fresh smell of the trees, calmness of the park and serenity of the green landscape brought its own perks. We leisurely glided down the smooth waters of North Park Lake as Vanessa and Macie explained their days and roles at this Kayak Pittsburgh location. Penny was feeling a lot calmer too, only getting chatty when she saw birds fly over our heads.
Reflecting on my experience, it’s no doubt that Kayak Pittsburgh is one of Venture Outdoors’ most popular programs. With outstanding views and ease of service at both locations, my social media campaigns can almost write themselves.
Danielle Levsky (me) having a blasty blast at North Park
Danielle Levsky (yours truly) having a blasty blast at Kayak Pittsburgh – North Park.

Beginning after Labor Day, on Tuesday, September 8, Kayak Pittsburgh will have Fall hours in place, with the last boat out at 6 PM and concessions closing at 7 PM.
Join us out on the water soon!