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Canoers depart after extended stay

April Garon / The Natchez Democrat — Jacob Reecher and Alex Johnson prepare to leave the shore Monday afternoon and continue their journey down the Mississippi River. Their six-week long trip has taken them 1,300 miles from their starting point, Illinois. Their final destination is New Orleans.
April Garon / The Natchez Democrat — Jacob Reecher and Alex Johnson prepare to leave the shore Monday afternoon and continue their journey down the Mississippi River. Their six-week long trip has taken them 1,300 miles from their starting point, Illinois. Their final destination is New Orleans.

By April Garon

The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ Canoing down the Mississippi River sounds adventurous, but two paddlers who made their way into Natchez Sunday say the trip gets a little boring at times.

“The river looks the same after a while — the trees change a little, but it’s the people that keep us going,” Jacob Reecher said.

Reecher and his fellow adventurer Alex Johnson came ashore in Natchez Sunday night to gather supplies, but Southern hospitality kept them longer than they expected. They met a stranger by the river, Linda Kathy Holmes, and in 15 minutes, were invited to eat dinner at her house in Natchez, Johnson said.

“Down here, people are open to bringing people into their circles quicker,” Reecher said. “They are more open to include you and less suspicious.”

Their journey began on May 28 in Byron, Ill. The recent University of Wisconsin-Platteville graduates decided to spend their summer pursuing a new adventure.

“It takes time, money and a lot of bravery,” Johnson said. “And you’ve got to be crazy enough to do it.”

Johnson is an experienced outdoorsman, but this was only Reecher’s second time in a canoe.

“I’ve been hiking and once went on a weeklong canoe trip,” Johnson said. “But this is a totally new and interesting experience.”

Grits, fried chicken and yams have been their favorite Southern foods so far, but they said most interesting delicacy they’ve tried was caught right out of the river.

“We’ve eaten eel, skinned and grilled on a skewer,” Reecher said. “You eat it like corn on the cob.”

Though their spirits seem high, weariness occasionally shows in their demeanor.

Reecher said he had to cope with extreme exhaustion, but said quitting is not an option now that they are so close to their final destination — New Orleans.

Johnson plans to go mountain climbing in Colorado after they finish their journey, but doesn’t have plans of returning to the river anytime soon.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Johnson said. “You don’t go down the Mississippi twice.”

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