For 40 years Juergen Kolheim of Bonn, Germany, has dreamed of paddling the length of the mighty Mississippi.
The dream began when he visited a college friend, Sue (Edwards) Schwartz of Bemidji, in 1969. They were classmates in Germany in 1963. Juergen's plan was to retire as a district court judge and row the river with a friend. Unfortunately as retirement came, his friend passed away.
His daughter, surgeon Dr. Ute Kolheim, 29, wanted her father to fulfill this dream, so she volunteered to share his adventure.
The two departed from Bemidji Friday afternoon after waiting six days here for their rowboat, the "U.L. Hein," to clear customs.
Juergen is a member of a row club, Bonner Ruder-Verein 1882, in Germany. With a couple of practices on the Rhine River under their belt, the two were ready to head to the United States. They arrived in Bemidji Aug. 20.
"We are not in a hurry. We're not trying to break any records," said Juergen. "A bit adventurous, but that's part of the excitement."
The two hope to make the journey within 80 days, which is when their visas run out.
They zipped across Lake Bemidji in their boat Friday afternoon and will stop at Wolf Lake at Billie and Bob Edwards' home, where Juergen and Ute have been patiently waiting the last six days to embark on their trip.
With an iPhone in hand, Ute will blog the trip at rowingthemississippi.blogspot.com" for friends to follow. Of course, it will be in German. For entertainment, she plans to learn to play her newly purchased harmonica.