Minnesota to New Orleans

река миссисипи

It took 35 years in the making; a personal desire to ride the Mississippi river’s current – became reality.  With several winter months planning and improvising a craft from an old pontoon before dragging it to Minnesota on a trailer – and then living along and most importantly on the BIG-river for more than a month.

From early summer to August; I lived aboard the ‘raft-like’ craft (below) ‘Freebird.’ – a simplistic voyage covering 1700 + miles of The Mississippi from Minnesota to New Orleans; with our the trusty kayaktraveller‘ in tow.

The links to our daily log are the right column of this page –




The scenery and activity surrounding the Mississippi was an interesting change from our normal ‘schedule’ back in the Carolina’s, truth is that I always wanted to live on a boat – and this was my best effort to date.

I spent the many days of this voyage pretty much spent standing rather than sitting; walking the deck in observation; ‘absorbing’ the features of the river while drifting along. For me it was a ‘throw-back’ of sorts of early American adventure; Huck Finn style – and it was all that I cared to do…

Reading-up on river Mississippi related subjects before the trip; helped to elevate the experience; “Twain” and his journalistic quotes were a’kin to the river spirit.. good read.


Beyond the perpetual motion of the water beneath us, the ‘towboats’ were the most predominant feature and # 1) topic of conversation along the river.  Other conversation points with the folks that we encountered along the river seemed to be unanimous at # 2) their personal desire to ‘go down the river,’ and # 3) catching/eating/ and savoring those big ole catfish from the river.

All the pictures are mine, and we learned firsthand the remarkable nature of those folks along her banks.

I can attest to the fact that the Mississippi is indeed an “interstate of waterways, a ‘backbone’ within our country where a grand bulk commerce is propelled on a massive scale – is as perpetual as the river itself.


From my tiny vantage point the unexpected bonus was in surpassing New Orleans and weathering a couple of days along the Gulf’s Intercoastal Waterway.  I loved it, and being ahead of schedule would have gone further had the vessel been worthy for the Gulf.  New Orleans to Biloxi was an added horizon.

I truly did not want the trip to end – but in the end the little ‘raft’ (Freebird) was no match for those ‘rolling swells’ of the Gulf….

A tired bird in Biloxy

There was remorse, yet 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 – you made it happen..

In working back through the notes I have elaborated a little more where I couldn’t while on the river, I will likely continue to.  On the lower Mississippi cell towers were few and reception was spotty – plus there was just too much for me to take-in – to absorb. .

I really wanted to just look around; it was the reason I went – and it was time away from this computer – real-time, well spent.

For the most part the camera held our notes; as for the video’s – be reminded that my broadcast voice is the worst (plus with some of those drink concoctions it really didn’t matter) BUT< what I did do was to push the button… we did it!

It has happened so many times over the multitude of years of its existence, I’m just telling you about our little trip.  For anyone, at anytime, floating down the ‘big-gully’ – those moments are all that matter…



Mom (Marie Hilliard Haynie) a last ride in ‘Freebird’ before ‘scuttle’

Our 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 purchased the vessel and made later 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 any with a similar interest.

The questions section  may hold more detailed answers surrounding the logistic’s of such a ride – a post for each day


maybe a return run…                                    

Canoe/kayak info

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


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. huckleberryfinn09
    Jul 27, 2009 @ 09:58:00

    We are almost there! We passed Baton Rouge yesterday and are going to be stopping in LaPlace tonight. Tommorrow we shall be making our way up the inter coastal water-way to a small Marina where we will be locking huckster to a tree and begin our next voyage aboard the 40′ sailing vessel Nerius and move her from the Alabama to port in New Orleans where myself and rich will live aboard her while we get our EMT certs.

    You most certainly left a trail behind you, we have been bumping into people every hundred miles or so who encountered you on your trip. It seems that your last statement about the trip being a necessity is a true one. People most certainly need see stuff like this happening!

    Catch ya later,

  2. Jared A Siefken
    Aug 02, 2009 @ 11:01:53

    Wow!! What a great adventure! This hits so close to home for me! I grew up a river rat in the Burlington (Ia) area and currently live in Fort Madison, so some of your pics were quite familiar to me. I guess the first thing I noticed was your IAFF emblem. I have been in the Fire Service for almost 12 years now, and a career Firefighter almost 5 years. (local 607) I have owned boats all my life and have spent some of the greatest times of my life on the river.(not tom mention all the beer consumed) I’m currently building a boat. Nothing big, just a little 14′ v-bottom. It’s coming together nicely but slow..lol. My next project is in the planning. I want to build a small houseboat, and my wife and I take it to New Orlens. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years. It will still be a few years before I can do it, but after reading your adventure I’m stoked and want to go now. Thank you for sharing your adventure. I hope someday you’ll be reading about mine. God bless my friend. -Jared.

  3. Dave Wilson
    Aug 10, 2009 @ 17:50:29

    As I scroll through your log, its like taking the trip myself. Done a lot of solo trips, never one of this length, or on waters this big, but if live long enough, I will!! Did you see (& Hear) the Natchez Steamboat in N.O.?? About 10 o’clock each night when it returns from the “dinner cruise”, it lets off steam and shakes the buildings of N.O!!! I swear the echos last four minutes!! Also, the river is a magnet to many men …. I need to get back to it REAL SOON!!!!!!!!!

  4. Tom Haynie
    Aug 11, 2009 @ 07:57:49

    Thanks for your comments, I hope that each of you can experience the time on this river, its a great adventure. I did see (and have a few pic’s) the Natchez, I hung around with her for several hours before heading into the industrial canal – and the intercoastal. Its worth the effort…….

  5. tom
    Mar 12, 2010 @ 11:03:34

    enjoyed the ride, although it was not on the river, but on web. thanks for sharing the adventure.

  6. Tom Haynie
    Mar 12, 2010 @ 15:51:41

    Thanks for reading along Tom, hope that you find and experience many special adventures of your own. Go for it.

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