There's something about a current flowing over rocks and finding its way downstream that inspires me and sets my mind to dreaming. That's what happened the year we went camping on Lake Itasca at the headwaters of the Mississippi River.
The mighty Mississippi begins as a gentle, babbling stream. But it takes on a whole different flavor as it winds its way through middle America to the Gulf of Mexico. Small towns dotting the river bank where everyone comes out for the annual 4th of July parade and competes to see who made the best blueberry pie that year. White picket fences and porch swings. Lemonade stands and children playing in the front yard.
It was this idyllic life that my mind craved—a Huck Finn dream of meandering through small towns and floating on a gentle current—a dream of a less demanding life, one where you could enjoy simple pleasures instead of driving hard toward the next big goal.
With this fantasy in mind, I unthinkingly blurted out, "Wouldn't it be fun to take a boat down the Mississippi River? From Lock & Dam No. 1 to the Gulf of Mexico. It'd be like a Mark Twain adventure."
Dan and I were sitting at the edge of the Mississippi at its narrow starting point, and when I looked in his eyes, I could see a vision forming. He dreamed about a simpler life every bit as much as I did.1