Carl Denning – The Upper and Lower Mississippi to Memphis, 19 days aboard. Planned 2011 trip.
“Carlton Denning is my given name and “River Dog” is my Raftin name. Originally from Miami, Florida, I moved to the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina 32 years ago to experience all that I can. With 392 miles left to complete the Appalachian Trail (2175 miles long) I must now make a detour to the Mississippi River and what lies ahead.”
“I am currently a Division Chief with the City of Asheville and I spend my time with my wife Robin, my 2 daughters, my son, my 3 grand-daughters, my dog, my cat, and anything else that wanders into my yard.”
“Being with Tom on a little floating platform for a month will be an adventure in itself, yet one that I am eager to begin, stay tuned”…………
Mike Steurof Cincinnati was set to board at Cairo, Il, but our unanticipated rate of travel derailed his plans of joining us.
Patrick Mann – First to complete the Mississippi in a Cool-Whip container…
Patrick Mann grew up in St. Louis, married shortly after high school (Carol), was a Steel Worker, had two daughters (Jackie and Vickie), and later became President of the Union Local – he retired due to a work related disability.
His first attempt down the Ole Miss came in 1975 (age 30), alone in a canoe that he had “packed and balanced” – this trip was short lived after he became caught up in the weather produced from a tornado. Within the storm he struggled to an island where some folks shared their shelter, food, and provided warmth from a fire. Patrick did return to the river but after two more days of being wet and battling the elements, decided to go home – it was a successful experience for the lessons learned.
Over the years he continued to canoe smaller rivers with a friend, and made a second effort in 2004 (age 59) when he and a son-in-law took out once again to conquer the distance in a canoe. Over the miles they were challenged by whirlpools (’suck pockets’ as he called them), obstacles, insects, and quicksand, they became swamped, were spun, and nearly run over by the larger boats – they later mentioned “paddling for their lives” several times.
As they neared Vicksburg, his canoe-mate had enough, Patrick pressed on alone and then at some point on the river below Vicksburg, health and the elements caught up with him, again leaving him just short of his mark.
Patrick Mann died in March 2008 at 63.
Patrick had two great passions, Civil War battlefields and The Mississippi River – his only known regret was not finishing the trip down the river to New Orleans.
His family wanted Patrick to complete his River journey, so his ashes accompanied us on the Freebird’s trek to New Orleans. We felt honored to have Patrick aboard as his desire was a constant inspiration to us…….
Patrick completed his quest, first ever to do it in a Cool-Whip container.
“Wilson” was a ‘given’ name to an orphaned and abused ‘little-tykes’ plastic baseball found floating aimlessly on the Mississippi River South of Memphis. After rescue, Wilson remained expressionless from years of neglect and constant beatings (plastic bat). He had also survived the torment of being tossed (only to be returned covered in pet saliva), ignored, and left outside to the elements. Worse yet the endless fondling from all those sticky little fingers (children). Wilson’s stoic exuberance was a powerful message of this little balls ‘home-run’ will.
With some outward-bound exercises (hide-n-seek mostly) Wilson regained his smile, yet remained silent from past experiences. He found purpose with our daily water clarity experiments, riding at the helm, and rolling playfully in the floor with each towboat’s passing wake – reaching the Gulf helped Wilson to regain some original ‘core’ values.
Wilson now seems to have made peace with his fate and may be found basking in contentment on the large porch of a lakehouse in the mountains, and for the time being – far away from all those sticky little fingers!