Drifting down the mighty Mississippi River

Published 11:26 pm Saturday, October 6, 2007

NATCHEZ — Talk about taking the scenic route

Joel and Anne Zellner of Grand Marais, Minn., took the long way to Natchez traveling down Mississippi River by kayak.

“The kids are gone, the dog died, so we said the heck with it,” Joel said. “We’ve been planning and talking about this for two years now. It has been great.”

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The Zellner’s took three months off from their daily lives to hit the river and see the sights.

“We wanted a change in our lives but not a permanent one,” Anne said. “We could have made it made it faster but we were having too much fun.”

Before leaving on their adventure, Anne found information on the Phatwater Kayak Challenge. It didn’t take much persuasion to get her husband interested.

“I’m a competitive guy,” Joel said. “She came home talking about it, and I got fired up.”

They intend to paddle down to Baton Rouge before hitching a ride back up for the race on Saturday, Oct. 13.

“We want to see some of the sights of Natchez,” Joel said.

Speaking of sights, Joel said he saw some amazing things coming down the river.

“We are used to Minnesota so the sand here is great,” Joel said. “Paddling up next to animals was something else. One morning we saw about 26 eagles. It was great.”

Their trip hasn’t been without a few bumps.

“The river is about six feet below what its supposed to be,” Joel said. “There were some spots where the river was just 6 inches deep. We had to pull our boats through. There was one stretch where we didn’t see anyone for 200 miles.”

They also hit some floodwaters north of St. Louis.

“It rained 15 inches in one day,” Anne said.

The couple agreed the trip was wonderful and fun.

“We’ve met some great people along the way,” Anne said. “We can’t wait for the race.”