I started researching houseboat rentals (because I wasn't going to trust my raft building ability) and what it would actually take in the way of river knowledge and boat piloting skills. I learned it would be expensive and not really something for a first-time boater. So that idea got shelved.
I've realized my raft-on-the-Mississippi envy wasn't really about the raft or the river. It was about the journey. It was about seeing and learning new things. And it was about the freedom to do that.
Huck and Jim were escaping bad situations. I didn't have an abusive drunken father, and I wasn't a slave about to be sold down the river, but I had my own comfortable, middle-class, suburban demons. I'd had enough of that life.
My raft might have wheels and my river might be paved, but I'm out here, on the journey, free and happy.