Tom Haynie; Personal links – (Life at 60 (mph)) – (Tom Haynie)

The bill collectors have my ‘real’ name, but my friends call me ‘Tom,’ the kids call me “Dad,’ and the wife – well, I just hope that she calls me at the end of this trip!

Raised in SW Florida, attended FMHS (70) and RGNS (66-68) in Northeast Georgia.  Any ‘College’ years were spent driving a tractor-trailer (semi) 24/7 delivering fresh produce from South Florida to much of the East and Midwest -‘overnighters.’  From 1970-78  I traveled many interstates (incomplete), secondary highways, and even some of the back roads.  There were several small bridges that I shouldn’t have made it across and delivery always seemed to be in the roughest parts of the major cities. I did however I encounter some unique characters where they were the most at ease – in their own neighborhoods – it was good experience.

During a ‘layover’ while driving in the early 70’s, I spent an evening sitting alongside the Mississippi near Greenville, Ms. I watched as the current rolled steadily by and pondered the possibilities of rafting the river’s length – the thought lingered for 35 years.

1736 - Tom

The past 30 years has been surprisingly stable in a career as a professional firefighter for the City of Asheville …  I have three children whom have grown into awesome adults (two daughters and a son).  They are each nurturing admirable lives and families in Colorado, Hawaii, and California respectively.

‘Bacshortly III,’ is the name of my center console boat.  The name came about because I’ve always had a problem sitting still for long.  There were times that I simply wanted to jump in and go on a ‘whim,’ I didn’t mind others going but found the process of asking too difficult (where they needed to ask someone, and so on…the ‘process’) – I just wanted to go, and return – hence the name ‘bacshortly’ was my message.

‘Boating’ for me is ‘courtesy’ – first and foremost – watching out for others (and stuff in the water), other occasions it’s just a pretty cool place to be.  Sometimes I can’t help but to feel that being on the water is one of our last area’s of personal freedoms.  There are the surreal times; like being planed-out on a glass smooth surface in the early morning as a ‘Kingfisher’ darts along between you and the shoreline, there is ‘clarity’ while standing atop that leading wake as it splits beneath your feet – and enlightenment as fresh as the morning vapor dampening your face.

I find genuine appreciation in the simplest of moments, the impressions last.

With this trek I simply invited more of those moments, the ‘clarity’ – all while realizing a point in life where our most favorite of kin and friends begin parting our company forever.

At more than 50, I notice the dampness of the freshly turned earth above their grave – while within me the quote sturs;  “Our lives are but a mist droplet in the Ocean of Time.” The dampness that I notice is that mist – I hear their voices, smile in recollection of their adventures, and their ‘story-telling.’ – As the soil dries I feel the loss, how quickly our moment passes.

So as far as this adventure goes/went; its just a little dampness within one little lifetime……


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.”

1735a Carl

“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.

Wilson regaining self-confidence

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!




7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Derek Wallace
    Feb 17, 2010 @ 20:11:07

    I’m leading a group of canoers down the Mississippi River this summer and would LOVE to chew your ear off, pick your brain and glean some recommendations!

    Peace and health,


  2. andy bennett
    Feb 18, 2010 @ 22:26:48

    we are planning a trip from muskogee oklahoma to new orleans via the arkansas and missippi rivers. we have a 20ft. deck boat with a 302 ford inboard outdrive. we have a few concerns about fuel and what hazards we may encounter. i was thrilled to find your web site. i am aretired fire fighter from okc ok. i retired after 27 great years in may 2003 and have traveled a little since retiring. we did a motor cycle trip from chicago to l.a. on route66. and have made 2 trips to alaska. along with my wife my brother and his wife. last summer about halfway through my wife broke her leg and we had to cut the trip short. but not before two great days of halibut fishing. but we decided to change travel buddies this time and go with my wifes sister and her hubby. they own half the boat. any information you can share we would appreciate greatly. thank you andy bennett

  3. Tom Haynie
    Feb 19, 2010 @ 07:27:49

    My first impression is too much motor Andy, but only for the weight/fuel constraints – I’m sure with planning you will overcome those, plus I could be absolutely wrong (power/ballast) – it’s your trip. You may only get one shot at it too so do it your way, prepare, give yourself plenty of time.

    Hopefully you will find some answers in here that might help, if not email me and I will help in any way possible.


  4. Nathan LAndry
    Jul 04, 2010 @ 13:53:03

    I launched from Ft Smith Arkansas on Nov 22nd 2009 in a 24′ sail boat (8hp Sabb diesel)and am currently summering/simmering in St Petersburg FL. I really enjoyed reading your log (my log has only been typed to MSR mile 304)

    I did meet another Arkie on the ICWW near Ft Walton FL, he was returning from wintering in Key West and that proved to me that a 22′ pontoon can cross the 170 miles of Gulf between Apalachicola and Tarpon Springs, FL.

    To Andy and crew… GO FOR IT! and make sure you stop and Sand Bar and Grill (Dumas Ar), best hospitality on the Arkansas River (avoid Pine Bluff)

  5. Dave Krueger
    Nov 01, 2010 @ 18:30:00

    I’ve done an annual boating trip on the Mississippi for about the last 10years, usually a 4 day trip each year. The only areas I’ve covered are from the Quad Cities in Illinois up to Minneapolis/St. Paul. I’ve either camped on islands or stayed in cheap motels. I’m going to retire at the end of next year and am in the infant stages of planning a trip down the entire Mississippi from Minneapolis/St. Paul to the Gulf. I’ve got a couple of boats to choose from but I’m leaning towards a 24ft pontoon boat with a 50hp merc. I find your wedsite fascinating and recognize a few of your pictures from Macgregor, Iowa (Crazy Carl’s Silver Dollar Saloon). I’m still reading about your journey and am only at day 6. You sold yourself a bit short by starting in LaCrosse and not going up to Minneapolis/St Paul. That stretch of water between those cities is absolutely beautiful and crossing Lake Pepin is an experience in itself. I’m interested in details of your planning and packing and am hoping your willing to share your thoughts/ experiences in that department.

  6. Tom Haynie
    Nov 01, 2010 @ 18:51:13

    Starting at Lacrosse was a decision that factored in driving miles/convenience there, even though I do have some regrets – it all worked out by contributing to our beating the spring storms further down the river, it was a smooth trip to New Orleans (plus I did add the mileage from NOLA to Biloxi) – Slept like a baby after the first couple of nights too.

    Would do it again in a minute..

    (Tom Nichols of Ace Hardware East of Kenosha, old friend from NC)

  7. Jeff Puckett
    Aug 04, 2013 @ 21:27:55

    Really liked it, especially the high resolution photos that are available on a click to the photos that are embeded. However some of the photos have apparently been corrupted, would you consider re-loading those lost adventure photos?

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