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Pulling from her unique and varied life experiences, Mary Shideler (a.k.a. The Kayak Lady) entertains and motivates her audience with both humor and insight. She may be short in stature, but she is long on spirit. Starting with her kayaking adventures in her own neck of the woods, Mary has broadened her adventures worldwide—traveling to all seven continents and bringing home lessons and insights that are not only educational, but entertaining and inspiring. In her presentations, Mary delivers a unique vision through outdoor life experiences coupled with insight into human nature brought together from her educational background and expertise as a certified massage therapist.

Mary began globetrotting in her 20’s in Australia where she wrangled wild camels and worked at a sheep ranch.

Interspersed with her kayaking were travels with her then 86-year-old mother Goldie to China and Africa.  Recently the adventuress found mystery and was enchanted by South America and Antarctica.  Mary captures a unique perception of these continents in words and photos.

Presentations Available



Adventures of The Kayak Lady

Mary first discovered the delights and wonders of the natural world when, as a 10-year-old she was mesmerized by the lacy shadows that moonlight fashioned. Her kayaking adventures on Itasca County’s 1,007 lakes are filled with the same fascination and wonder of an explorer. “Lakes might be welcoming, pristine or haunting,” she says. Mary pulls you into her adventures to see the natural world as she discovers it. You experience the beauty and masterpiece that nature is. And meet the one of a kind often entertaining, people Mary encountered along the shorelines of many of the lakes she paddled.

Kayaking became a passion for Mary.  Her motto is, “Keep Paddling.” What is your passion?


“Mary Shideler possesses both a sense of wonder and a sense of purpose. Her kayaking quest should be an inspiration to all of us who dare to follow our dreams.”

Sam Cook, Outdoors Writer/Columnist, Duluth News Tribune


Follow Your Dreams (Goldie’s Bucket List)

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Mary touched down on her seventh and final continent to visit in this world in 2013, a lifelong quest she has now crossed off her Bucket List. An ambitious undertaking? Not necessarily. If you really want to follow your dreams you can find a way to do it. During this 45-minute presentation, Mary helps you no longer imagine, but realize the experiences or achievements you want to have during your lifetime. You may want to overcome the fear of flying, get a college degree, fulfill the dream of visiting 15th century Machu Picchu in Peru, or simply take time to read a book that you keep passing up.

Mary’s 92-year-old mother tackled a major portion of an ambitious Bucket List in her 80’s. She found there was really nothing to skydiving, riding a camel, climbing on a Harley or sitting on an African lion. If Goldie can do it, so can you!


Ancient Mysteries and Perky Penguins
(South America/Antarctica)

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Mary’s sense of early civilizations was magnified in South America when she flew over the ancient geoglyphs in Peru, wandered through the Lost City of the Incas and stood in the shadow of Easter Island’s sacred Moai. Before she saw the famous Nazca Lines Mary thought they may have been created by aliens. After seeing them, she thinks differently. South America’s wonders took her breath away, as did her polar plunge into the icy waters of the Antarctic Ocean. The spectacles of Antarctica were magnificent and intensified when Mary camped overnight in a penguin colony and kayaked the deep blue waters surrounding the continent. Join Mary on an amazing photographic journey south, as far south as one can go on the planet Earth.

Magical China

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Mary discovered a China that was familiar, but somehow different. Where else would you see a man carrying bok choy in baskets on a shoulder pole and another behind him talking on a cell phone? She saw that mixing the old with the new worked, and joined the crowds and excitement to experience this mingling. Mary was enamored by the many faces of China and its people, capturing it all through the lens of her camera. She was particularly taken with the 2,200 year-old terra cotta warriors. She now has a full-sized replica of a 639-pound, six-foot warrior, a quartermaster officer she named Xian, that guards her home.

Mary fell in love with the wonder and magic that is China and its 1.3 billion people. She exudes that affection during an insightful presentation about a country that is rapidly changing.


Sights of South Africa

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From Johannesburg, Zimbabwe, Botswana’s Chobe National Park, Namibia, and Cape Town to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, Mary immerses you in the captivating images that are her Africa. You experience the broad diversity that encompasses South Africa’s geography, people, wildlife and culture as Mary joins spirited tribal dances, or a night-time safari through the magical natural habitats of elephants, hippos, giraffes and other animals. She meets penguins, strokes the bristly coat of an 18-month-old lioness, helicopters over Victoria Falls and crawls up the world’s highest crested sand dunes in the Namib Desert. Over the foothills that edge this desert she saw a fiery red, coppered-colored, green sky that made her feel like she was on another planet. Mary found Moroccan-style architecture in the funkiest place she had ever been.

These and many more of Mary’s adventures become your adventures, in memories and photos.

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