Minnesota to New Orleans

река миссисипи

After 35 years my personal desire to ride the Mississippi river’s current became reality. It took several winter months planning and improvising a craft from an old pontoon before 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; 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 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 voyage was pretty much spent standing rather than sitting; walking the deck in observation; ‘absorbing’ the rivers features as we drifted along. For me it was a ‘throw-back’ of early American adventure; Huck Finn style.

It helped to read-up 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 people along her banks.  I can attest to the fact that the Mississippi is indeed an “interstate of waterways, a ‘backbone’ within our country where safely moving bulk commerce on a massive scale – is as perpetual as the river itself.


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

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

A tired bird in Biloxy

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 have elaborated 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 stinks (plus with some of those drink concoctions it really didn’t matter) what I did do was to push the button; and made plenty of 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…


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

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 later 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…                                    

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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