Would I be able to get in my own personal watercraft at the
"top" of the Mississippi in Minnesota, and follow it all the way
down to the Gulf of Mexico without leaving my boat?

Are you related to Louis Jolliet? He was the first to do it in 1673. He,
along with 5 others did it by canoe...almost. They stopped 435 miles
from the end due to Spaniardphobia. Martin Strel did it in 2002. He
swam. Famous for swimming the entire lengths of rivers, he
prepares for a year and a half, sleeps for 5 hours each day during
the swim, and takes 6 to 7 months to recover. Also in 2002 by
canoe, Gary Hoffman and his son did it. You can get some of his info
and order his book at mightymiss.com. So it seems like you can in
fact, do it.

So I spoke with Chief Warrant Officer Andy Brown, Asst. Public
Relations Officer of the U.S. Coast Guard, Upper Mississippi sector.
I put the question to him. He said, "It would be possible. Anything is
possible. Proper planning is essential."

"You would have to understand the rules of the road, so to speak."
Mississippi river currents are fast and treacherous, plus there is a lot
of other traffic. 15 barges being pushed together above St. Louis
are possible, and up to 25 below St. Louis.

But Officer Brown wasn't done. He added that the Coast Guard
offers a free inspection to confirm that your vessel is worthy. I
suggest you take advantage of the service to be sure. "A
commercial boat makes this trip in 4 weeks, but they are traveling
24/7 at 6-8 knots. If you had a faster boat, and docked and slept
along the way, you still might be able to make it in 4 weeks, but it
depends on so many factors."

At 2,320 miles, the Mississippi is the fourth longest in the world and
the 10th most powerful. You'll need to start below the headwaters
since there are 14 dams. After that, beginning in Minneapolis there
are 29 dams equipped with locks, and you'll need to understand how
to get through them. Does your boat use Diesel? If not, you'll need to
know where there are private marinas along the way. Officer Brown
had many stories of people thinking they were Tom Sawyer and
attempting to do it in a raft. They last about 10 minutes, realize how
dangerous it is, and bail out.

Do lots and lots of research. There is much to learn. No shame in
changing your mind.

Can you drive from the U.S. to Argentina?

Hmm, I have often wondered this very question so I did a little
research. Yes you can, but it is a monster undertaking. There are so
many things you need to do when you prepare and to be aware of
during your trip. For help, I contacted Elliott Kim, a guy who has done
it and created the website traveltosouthamerica.com, the best, most
informative of several websites. I asked Mr. Kim what were the three
most important things to do when preparing for the trip.

"The three most important things are Planning, Language, and
Financing. Proper and thorough planning is absolutely essential. You
should also have a good working knowledge of Spanish. Take a
Spanish class if you need it, but learn it as well as you can.
Financing is critical. The trip is very expensive and you'll also need
to be prepared for emergencies. I spent nearly $10,000 dollars."

And the three most important things during the trip? "Be prepared
for the Darien Gap. Your car must be shipped from Panama. It costs
about $1500 and takes up to two weeks. DO NOT take pictures of
children. Kidnapping is not uncommon. Finally, understand border
crossings. There are people for hire at each border. You will need

This is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. You should read every
page thoroughly on Mr. Kim's website. Follow his advice. You will
also find 3 or 4 other websites by people who have done it. Read
them all for invaluable tips, hints, and guides.

You don't have a fear of Spaniards do you?

The Adventure Guy - Series 2:
The Mississippi and Drive South America
-Christopher Reilly
Copia Magazine
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