After 35 years the desire to ride the Mississippi river’s current became reality. I spent several winter months planning and improvising a craft from an old pontoon; dragging it to Minnesota on a trailer – and then living on the river for more than a month.
For a week in May and the full month of June I lived aboard the ‘raft-like’ craft (below) ‘Freebird.’ It was a simplistic voyage covering 1700 + miles of The Mississippi from Minnesota to New Orleans; my trusty kayak ‘traveller‘ in tow.
The links to our daily log are the right column of this page –
The scenery and activity surrounding this mighty river was an interesting change from life’s normal schedule back in the Carolina’s. I always wanted to live on a boat. The 32 days of this simplistic voyage was pretty much spent walking the deck, observing, while standing rather than sitting. A time to ‘absorb’ the features as we drifted along. I’d like to think of the trek as a ‘throw-back’ of early American adventure; Huck Finn style. For me it helped to readup on river related subjects before the trip, Mark Twain was a big one..
Beyond the perpetual motion of the water beneath us, ‘towboats’ were the most predominant feature and # 1) topic of conversation along the river. Other conversation points with the folks that we met along the river seemed to be unanimous at # 2) their personal desire to ‘go down the river,’ and # 3) catching and eating catfish from the river.
We took alot of pictures and learned firsthand the remarkable nature of those folks along those banks; with that I can attest to the fact that the Mississippi is indeed an “interstate of waterways. This river is the ‘backbone’ within our country in moving bulk commerce on a massive scale – and in a safe manner.
From my tiny vantage point an unexpected bonus was in surpassing New Orleans and weathering a couple of days along the Gulf’s Intercoastal Waterway. I loved it, New Orleans to Biloxi, was an added horizon. I did not want to get off of the water nor the trip to end – but in the end the little ‘raft’ (Freebird) was no match for the ‘rolling swells’ of the Gulf.
Of course with any adventure such as this it takes the support/words and effort of friends, family, and folks along the way to make it ‘full-circle,’ thank you – you folks know who you are.
In working back through the notes I will elaborate a little more where I couldn’t while on the river. On the lower Mississippi cell towers were few and reception was spotty – plus there was just too much for me to take-in. I really wanted to look around, it was time away from this computer… and it was time well spent.
For the most part the camera held our notes, as for the video’s – be reminded that my broadcast voice sucks (plus with some of those drink concoctions it really didn’t matter) what I did do was to push the button; and made notes along the way; we did it!
Within the effort we could’ve been living a hundred years ago; on the river and floatin downstream – for those 32 days of June – that was all in the world that mattered…
The boat made it home and once back in the Carolina’s I really hated to pluck the bird’s feathers – but it had to be done. Carl bought the vessel and made two attempts at the river – check the ‘Ghost of Freebird’ link over there to your right. The simple practicality of the vessel worked well.
The complete trip was an outstanding ride on one of mother nature’s continental tear ducts; hopefully this blog and the notes within may provide some perspective for those with a similar interest. Check out the questions section of for more detailed answers surrounding the logistic’s of such a ride – a post for each day
maybe a return run in 2019 too…
Water clarity- 4 upper, 2 lower
Natural Quality – 5 (Upper Mississippi)
Difficulty – moderate, you will become advanced with time
Best thing about the water – it’s temperature
(this is a commercial waterway)
“Traveller’s” updated adventures