Dominique Liboiron, a 33-year-old journalist, arrived in Nebraska City by canoe Oct. 24 trying to be the first person ever to paddle from Saskatchewan, Canada, to New Orleans.
He realized the theoretical possibility of the 3,000-mile-journey using four rivers and crossing 13 states while in high school, but the call to New Orleans became evident when he lost his uncle, Mitch Hamon, to heart disease in 2010.
Liboiron credits his uncle for inspiring his love of music and outdoor cooking and said a 1992 trip impressed his uncle with a love of Cajun cooking and New Orleans. Liboiron would carry his uncle's cremated ashes and spread them on the journey's end.
He began in Saskatchewan on June 8 at the Frenchman River.
He navigated across the Canadian and United States border into Montana's Milk River until it joined the headwaters of the Missouri River.
Friends and family joined him in the canoe on portions of the trip and always they talk to people along the way about the number one killer of Americans and the number two killer of Canadians, heart disease.
He said having a temporary partner in the canoe also helps alleviate loneliness.
"That way we can remember M'Nonc Mitch together. Having someone along is great," he said.
Liboiron said he is happy to have reached the channelized portion of the river.
He could would typically only get six miles a day in the Dakotas, but can travel about 25 miles a day on the lower end toward the Mississippi River.
"It's motivating that I'm here because I can kind of see my goal is within reach," he said.
He expects to arrive with the conviction that the trip has helped make the loss of his 42-year-old uncle a springboard for the life of others.
Donations are accepted at www.canoetoneworleans.com.