A Boatride Down the Mississippi

In the first installment of Weekend Edition's Summer Adventure series, Host Liane Hansen speaks to Jim Stimson as he and some friends ride a 26-foot boat down the Mississippi River from St. Paul, Minn., to St. Louis, Mo.

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LIANE HANSEN, host:

My summer got off to a bicoastal start. First a trip to the Delaware shore to hang out with my daughter and walk along the Atlantic Ocean, then I headed off to Van Nuys, California. My son lives there and works in Hollywood at a casting studio.

After witnessing a true cattle call for a beer commercial, I made my own video recording in the same studio where the Stones, Elvis and Frank Sinatra made music. But the ocean beckoned so we made our way to Venice Beach. Sticking my toes in the sand and breathing the salt air of both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans within 48 hours was a perfect ending to a truly terrific trip.

That's my excellent summer adventure. What's yours?

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. ANNALISA KELLY (Caller): My name is Annalisa Kelly. I'm from Portland, Oregon. This summer I'll be cooking for an archeology dig on the captivating island of Martinique.

Mr. MICHAEL MERRIMAN (Caller): I'm Michael Merriman. I'm in Napa, California, and I'm hitting the road to Bozeman, Montana to the 51st Annual International Airstream Rally.

Ms. SARAH MCGLESTER(ph) (Caller): Hi, I'm Sarah McGlester from Charleston, South Carolina. My husband Donald and I are heading to Mongolia. We'll ride camels in the Gobi Desert, visit a 15th century monastery and see Mongolia from horseback just like Ganges Khan.

(Soundbite of music)

HANSEN: Today we're kicking off our summer adventure series with Jim Stimson. He and two of his long-time friends, all in their late 50s, are guiding a 26-foot motorboat down the Mississippi River from St. Paul, Minnesota to St. Louis, Missouri, and we're reaching him on the first day of his journey. Welcome to the show, Jim.

Mr. JIM STINSON (Sailing Mississippi River): Ahoy there, Liane.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. STINSON: How are you?

HANSEN: I'm fine, thank you. So you know, who's responsible for this brainchild? Where did you get the idea for your summer adventure?

Mr. STINSON: We were at the 40th class reunion last summer and I mentioned to Bruce Smith, one of the fellows with me here today, that I've always wanted to do this, and he said I have too. In fact, he said, my mother and stepfather actually went from St. Paul to New Orleans many years ago and I've wanted always do it too.

HANSEN: Wow.

Mr. STINSON: And last night we were talking, you know, we're just all about six months younger than Tim Russert and so...

HANSEN: Yeah.

Mr. STINSON: ...if anybody asks why are you doing this...

HANSEN: Um-hum.

Mr. STINSON: ...the answer: Tim Russert.

HANSEN: Exactly. So, how long will you be out on the water?

Mr. STINSON: Well, we think two weeks. We're putting along at about five knots an hour now, and it's a beautiful day on the upper Mississippi.

HANSEN: We've been reporting on NPR about all the flooding on the Mississippi. And are you concerned at all about that during this trip?

Mr. STINSON: Yes, to be honest.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. STINSON: Funny you should say. We are concerned and we are monitoring and talking to people at the marinas and they're talking to the Coast Guard and the Corps of Engineers and so on. But, you know, if we have to stop for a few days and let the proverbial pig pass through the python, we'll do that.

HANSEN: One last question: by any chance have you read Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn" recently?

Mr. STINSON: Yes. In fact, I'm shocked at how hard of a read it was. I bought these guys the book for Christmas and sent it off to them. Yeah, we all just read it in the last month or so. And it's part of the adventure that we're involved in.

HANSEN: Right. But, you've got a Chris Craft instead of a raft.

Mr. STINSON: Well, you know, it's 24 years old and it's not in the greatest shape but it's going to make this trip. In fact, we're going to try to sell it in St. Louis. So, if there's one good boat buyer in St. Louis, contact Liane out there, everybody.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: Fair enough. For your summer adventure, Jim Stimson is floating down the Mississippi River from St. Paul to St. Louis with some of his friends.

Our summer adventure series will continue throughout the season with more stories from our listeners. And thank you for your story, Jim. Good luck.

Mr. STINSON: Thanks. We need it.

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A Sense of Summer Adventure

It's hard to imagine summer without thinking of vacation. So when host Liane Hansen asked listeners to write in about their summer plans, vacation was clearly on their minds. Some will be wrestling in Mongolia while others will be singing in England's Canterbury Cathedral. Over the summer, we'll be taking you along on some of these adventures.

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