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The New Adventures of Huck ‘n Jim

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When I read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in high school, apart from it being the “first great American novel” and all of the allegories and strong symbolism built up within the book, to me the most intriguing part was: they traveled down hundreds of miles of river in a raft and saw cool stuff and got into misadventures! Would that I could do what they did on the Mississippi River.  Back in the 1800′s that kind of a trip was possible, albeit dangerous.  Today though, major rivers are dammed up and diverted, preventing a great expedition from taking place. Let us pretend for a moment, though, that this was not so; that every major river on the Earth was not dammed up.  Disbelief must be suspended because the changes wrought by river engineering have been vast and widespread; here I am assuming that the topography of all places is the same, save for the removal of man-made river barriers. In this maritime alternative, you can build your own raft – mine would have a tiny cabin, a captain’s chair, and an ironic flag hoisted up – and travel on the cheap without having to do way too much work.  Start at the first navigable point past the headwaters in the middle of Spring and you will be rushed down the hydro-road to destinations that bring back to mind the fabulous journeys of the old Silk Road trading routes.  The river itself would lend context to every location you could visit.  Take the Danube from picturesque Regensburg, Bavaria, and on your way to the magnificent Black Sea you will pass through thousands of miles and years of varied history.  Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Mohács, a bit of Croatia, tons of Romania, some of Bulgaria, Serbia, and the Ukraine.  Why stop at the mouth when you could continue along the coast to Odessa, to Georgia and the Caucasian part of Russia, or to the whole northern coast of Turkey? Take also the Yellow River in China, home to the oldest continuous civilization on the planet.  The Yellow River would take you from grand mountains and canyons to the fertile plains which cradled early Chinese civilization, and which still holds a legendary place in the national psyche.  The Brahmaputra flows for a great length through the Tibetan plateau, then through Bangladesh and it empties along with the Ganges in a great river delta.  The Amazon? The Thames? The Rhine? The Nile? And of course, the modern-day Mississippi? The greatest part of the adventure, though, would come from what would inevitably arise from a resurgence in river traffic.  The riverbanks of towns and cities would once again become the lively centers of commerce and activity they once were.  An amazing array of goods could be purchased.  Many cultures would be found, and of course the docks would be the doorstep to swashbuckling adventure.  You should be able to find docking for your raft… it would be a lot less of a hassle than trying to find a parking space.  Meet up with other river-wanderers.  Find work, illicit or not, on a bigger boat or in some dockside bar. Give me three months and a raft, and I will be content.  For three months.
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Written by Preston

September 15th, 2009 at 10:48 am

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One Response to 'The New Adventures of Huck ‘n Jim'

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  1. Oh, Preston—I’m still having a hard time imagining you “content”—-even on a raft. Good job, buddy—-

    The Hawk

    13 Oct 09 at 23:35

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