That is exactly what happened with a group of hunting buddies, Ray Bergeron and son Joey, and David Lester and his two sons, Buddy and Bo.
While at their hunting camp almost 12 years ago, sitting around a campfire, they came up with a dream of one day paddling a pirogue down the entire length of the Mississippi River, from Minnesota to Louisiana.
But in 2002 tragedy struck when Ray and his son Joey died in a plane crash. Then in 2009, Buddy Lester was killed in an auto accident.
David Lester and his son Bo, the two remaining members of the group, decided to make that dream they spoke about years earlier happen.
It was planned as a trip in memory of Buddy, Ray and Joey. They figured it would take about a month and half to complete the 2,311 mile trip.
On May 26, David, wife Carla, and Bo flew to Minnesota, the 17-foot Merrick Canoe to be used on their journey had been shipped earlier and was waiting for them. Bo named the canoe Budmaster in honor of his brother Buddy.
On June 1, David and Bo began their trip at the Mississippi’s headwaters in Itasca State Park, Minnesota, the beginning of Old Man River.
Their goal was to paddle 50 miles a day. In the beginning they faced bad weather, but marveled at the unbelievable scenery and wildlife along the way.
Both are avid outdoorsmen. They adapted well to the primitive campsites, even sleeping soaking wet after 70 mph winds and rain knocked down their tarps. Along the way, they managed to catch fish for a fish fry.
“We met some of the nicest people along the way,” recalls David. “Some inviting us to spend the night and letting us wash and dry our clothes.”
They traveled past nine dams and through 28 locks, some inoperable because of the flood waters. “It was one hell of a ride,” according to the father/son team.
On July 13 – a few days short of their six weeks goal – they reached the end of the Mississippi River, paddling into Venice, Louisiana. A homecoming party was held Saturday, July 17 at Rocky’s Bayou Boudin in Breaux Bridge.
Not only did David and Bo want to complete a dream, they also are raising money for the Buddy Lester Memorial Fund.
Education was important to Buddy and he was constantly trying to encourage dropouts to go back to school and get their GED.
Funds generated through this trip will help high school dropouts who are ready to take the GED test with the cost of the testing fee.
Anyone who would like to see pictures of David and Bo Lester’s trip down the Mississippi River can log on to their website, www.Budmaster.org or facebook @ BuddyLesterRip.
Donations can be made to the Buddy Lester Memorial Fund, 1244 Bergeron Rd.,Breaux Bridge, LA 70517. Contact Carla Lester at 332-4179 or email, Carla@Budmaster.org.