Hulne: A different kind of summer vacation

Published 8:08 pm Monday, September 23, 2013

Summer vacations are often filled with long days on the road that lead to a desired destination, which is certain to offer the fun you are looking for.

But for some people, the trip is the most fun part of the vacation and the destination isn’t all that important.

Three Austin residents — Terry Fox, 66, Dave Thomsen, 73, and Julie Thomsen, recently took one of those trips when they biked all the way down the Mississippi River from the headwaters in Itasca to the Gulf in Louisiana.

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The 2,200-mile trip took the trio 23 days as they biked 100 miles per day all of the way to New Orleans, La. They stayed as close to the river as they could and they saw 10 states from a much closer perspective than you would if you were driving by at 70 miles per hour.

“You stumble upon a lot of interesting things that you didn’t know,” Fox said. “Every day was something a little different.”

Fox biked the entire 2,000 miles and the Thomsens took turns driving a support vehicle, which carried the group’s supplies and took them back to Austin after the trip. Fox, and the Thomsens made a similar trip two years ago when they were part of a group that biked across the United States from Oregon to Massachusetts.

This time, Fox wanted to go north to south and he enjoyed every day of the trip.

“It doesn’t get old. It’s exciting. There wasn’t one minute where I wondered what I was doing out there,” he said. “It was amazing how fast it went.”

While on the road, Fox and the Thomsens kept a blog called Mississippi Coasters that kept their family and friends up to date with photos and stories of what was happening with them on the road.

People were able to leave messages on the Web Site and some of the people who met Fox and the Thomsens on the road left messages on the sight.

The YMCA also held a coaster’s challenge in Austin that saw YMCA members to support the Mississippi coasters.

Fox said the ride was a smooth one without rain and the only part of the trip with hills was Iowa.

As Fox gets older, he knows his cross country trips will limited.

“Next time we’ll probably be on walkers with tennis balls,” Fox joked.

Follow Rocky Hulne on twitter @RockyHulneADH.