An extreme adventure underway on the Mississippi River right now and our own ABC7's Paul Meincke is on it. This is no ordinary canoe trip. He's on a mission to paddle all 2,300 miles of it.
It began where the lake actually flows north in Lake Itasca, Minnesota, last month as four retirees led by an award-winning storyteller set out for mile zero, where the river that shaped America empties into the Gulf of Mexico.
"Paddling the whole thing is really a way to learn a lot about its history, its power, its majesty and the great reward has been meeting people who live on the river," said Paul Meincke.
Their odyssey has been documented on Facebook with an intensifying following. At the Missouri-Arkansas border now, the river has widened and barges, wind and loneliness are proving difficult at times to keep at bay.
"We are in two and three foot swells and they are beating us up; when that goes on all day that is very taxing and you got to have your game face on the whole time," said Meincke.
The group camps along the shoreline, sometimes legally, eats well, and revels in the kindness of strangers.
Veterans encountered along the way are given gifts, too.
The honesty of moments like that reflect the majesty of the Mississippi as it reveals itself to a man who knows how to capture the essence of an experience.
"I think a lot about who we are and the people that you meet and the richness of the culture and the power of the river," said Meincke.
"You get in to a trance like state and you just keep paddling," said Meincke.
The paddle is more than 2,000 miles long and was scheduled to take 71 days. Though Meincke thinks they'll take a few more days than that to complete their odyssey.