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By Tony LaRussa, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
When Tom and Nancy Caruso leave Pittsburgh for a trip to Oregon, they’ll not only be taking a longer-than-usual route, but also relying on unorthodox transportation.
On Saturday, the Southern California couple will launch from the Point, Downtown, in a 25-foot fishing boat they bought on eBay for $8,900. They plan to retrace the route followed by famed explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark in 1803.
The Carusos’ modern-day expedition is sponsored by Edible Arrangements International Inc. and is designed to inspire people to “eat right and move more,” Nancy Caruso said as she and her husband traveled through Texas on their way to Pittsburgh. The couple own an Edible Arrangements franchise, which sells artistically designed arrangements of fruit.
Nancy Caruso, a marine biologist, also is the founder and executive director of Get Inspired!, a nonprofit organization dedicated to “inspiring passion and purpose through the discovery of arts and sciences.”
“Nancy and I want to live healthy active lives, and we thought the country could use a little inspiration, too,” said Tom Caruso, 41. “We love being outdoors, enjoying nature and eating healthy foods. But like most people, we find it’s often hard to do.”
Nancy Caruso, 39, said she and her husband “decided that we were going to do this trip to change our lives and maybe inspire others to do the same.”
She said the inspiration for the trip came from her grandfather, William S. Deely, who lived in Pittsburgh and made the same voyage to the West Coast in a 16-foot boat in 1973.
“My grandfather lived to be 96 years old, and I never remember him being sick,” she said. “The one thing he was always doing was moving — walking, building tree houses, dancing, working on his house — he never sat around.”
Nancy Caruso, who grew up in northern Virginia, spent many summers visiting her grandfather in Pittsburgh. They often roamed the three rivers on his boat, she said.
“He loved his boat and had a let’s-do-it attitude,” she said. “He was a great inspiration to me, so we’re hoping people will be inspired by what we are doing.”
The Carusos’ planned three-month excursion will begin at the Ohio River, go down the Mississippi River and then up the Missouri River where, like Lewis and Clark, they will be forced to travel over the Rocky Mountains by land.
They will get back on the water at the Snake River, which will take them to the Columbia River and eventually the Pacific Ocean. Their final destination is Astoria, Ore.