The Good Stuff: Slowin' down and almost home

Man on home stretch of slowin' down the Mississippi
Shawn Puffer is nearing the end of his 2,300 mile Mississippi River journey
Shawn Puffer is nearing the end of his 2,300 mile Mississippi River journey

Two months and counting.

Shawn Puffer of Bossier Parish has been kayaking the entire length of the Mississippi River since June 3 and he is set to reach his final destination, the Gulf of Mexico, as early as Wednesday, August 8th.

"If it wasn't for me doing the daily blogs and seeing the date, I would totally lose the days, really quick," Puffer said.

KSLA News 12's Doug Warner caught up with Puffer just days ago during one of his overnight stops in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

When asked how his heart was doing, just 6 months removed from a triple by-pass surgery, "Fantastic, no worries," was Puffer's quick response.

Puffer's stop in Vicksburg was only his fourth night of the entire trip to be spent in a hotel room. All others have been spent inside his tent in makeshift campgrounds and river sandbars.

But he says as comfortable as a hotel bed may be, it pales in comparison to a night out under the stars and two months of sunrises and sunsets.

"It was nothing to see a hundred deer a day, a couple hundred eagles a day," Puffer said.

Puffer remembers of those early couple of weeks on the Mississippi River throughout Minnesota.

"Some of the days, the weather, the sunsets, the sunrises, just the wildlife. Just being free like this is a really good feeling, nothing like I've experienced before."

As for what Puffer says he's learned during his two months on the river, "The biggest thing I've learned so far is how little you need to live a good life."

Two days after departing Vicksburg, Puffer took a planned detour onto the Atchafalaya River to reach the Gulf of Mexico. He did so to avoid the dangerously heavy ship and barge traffic along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

And despite completing his trip in just days, Puffer already has his mind on a possible repeat.

"I wouldn't say I wouldn't see myself doing this trip again," announces Puffer. "This trip is this trip. It will never be the same the next time around. The people will be different, the river will be different. The whole atmosphere will be different."

His girlfriend Carrie Morgan also traveled to Vicksburg to see Puffer for only the second time since he began his journey."If you don't appreciate having that person day to do, you do now," Morgan explains. "Just the little things. I joke with him about the honey-do list I've got for him at home. "

Puffer's kayak, named Brave Surrender, a name he says is fitting for such a trip.

"Brave surrender is taking a step into the unknown and saying, 'Hey, I'm going to do this and we'll figure it all out as we go'," shares Puffer.
 "A lot of people are uncomfortable taking that step."

As of airtime on Monday, August 6 at 10 p.m., GPS tracking showed Puffer to be camped along the Atchafalaya, due east of New Iberia, just 38 miles shy of the Gulf.

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