Mississippi Bliss

Brainerd, Minnesota

It’s hard to describe certain words like “strong” or “brave” out here on the road until you meet, quite unexpectedly, a person like young cancer survivor Austin Price. And such it is with how one attempts going about putting into words, or even video, how it makes you feel inside to traverse the Upper Mississippi River.

The word that came to me yesterday morning (just previous to a fierce wind storm), was the word “bliss”. To be out here on the river, at certain spells, is quite simply a blissful experience. It takes your mind away from all your challenges, away from where you think you have to get yourself off to. There is no rush. There is no hurry. The current of the river takes you, here in the river’s boyhood (as Eddy L. Harris said, “where he’s getting muddier and wilder by the mile”) and gently sweeps you into a situation where you are quite literally surrounded by living nature in all directions that you look. In the river itself as you follow the underwater reeds that point the way forward, with fish darting this way and that; along the banks, where one will find deer and painted turtles and beavers and all sorts of wild fowl; as well as up above, as the clouds and the wind hold sway with the with crisp, ever-changing sky.

Such a moment I have just felt and against my better judgement I will attempt to put it into words, to shoot a little to let you see, for a moment of my trip, what I see.

We just portaged the paper mill dam at Brainerd, Minnesota. I use the collective “we” because I hope that you are enjoying this sojourn extraordinaire right along with me.

Met a fellow traveller named Dick Conant who is also going to be canoeing the entire Mississippi River – although he’s headed to Norfolk, Virgina. I’ll be bringing you a very short interview of Dick and his trip a little later. Every year a very small handful of people do the Mississippi – incredible to meet one this early on. Just amazing!

The river has a refreshing, very welcome current here following the dam and I wanted to try to capture what I’m experiencing – right now. I’m editing and uploading this short piece on my canoe as the rain just begins to come down.

In a true, quite phenomenal moment of bliss.



Filed under On the Mississippi, Wanderlust

6 responses to “Mississippi Bliss

  1. Patrick C

    I’ve just had a quick read and it sounds like you are going through a lot in this trip, both physically and mentally!

    However, it sounds like you are making many wonderful discoveries. Good luck for the rest of the trip!

  2. flashriversafari

    Cheers, Patrick. The journey is most definitely a challenge on multiple fronts. Mentally, physically, as well as the ever-changing challenge of sourcing interesting stories. What makes it all worthwhile is the nature and the incredible people that I am meeting quite literally all along the way. Truly having the time of my life!

  3. Tom Saari

    Hi Neal,
    I met you at the Dam in Little Falls.
    By the way it is Brainerd Minnesota.
    My daughter saw you paddling pass our house
    just north of Little Falls. Good Luck and God Speed.
    Tom Saari

  4. flashriversafari

    Hi Tom. Many thanks for coming to say hello and also for the spelling tip. Very nice to meet you. Have stayed on in Little Falls for two days to capture a story. Will be uploading shortly! All best, Neal

  5. Kari

    Hi Neal. I met your canoe buddy Dick today. I was biking the Soo bike trail (outside of Little Falls) and met him where the bike trail and canoe portage trail cross. We ended up spending about 2 hours visiting. He passed on your blog information. It will be interesting to see how often you meet up on this wild adventure you’re both undertaking. Good luck and I’m looking forwarding to seeing your interview with him. I wish you well on your adventure! PS Tell Dick hi 🙂

    • flashriversafari

      Hi Kari – great to hear it! Am sure I’ll meet up with Dick again and will certainly pass on your well wishes! All best and thanks for your interest in our adventures!

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