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Local Boat Captain Shares His Love for the Ouachita River

This is a story about a man, his boat, and the river he calls home.
MONROE -- This is a story about a man, a boat, and the river he calls home.

"I've always wanted other people to enjoy the river, like I do," said Captain John Brown, who has lived and worked on the river for almost 30 years.

He wants everyone to feel the same deep connection he has to the river that runs around us.

"Only God could do this," he said.

Captain John charters a pontoon tour boat on the Ouachita River. He said as far as he knows, he's alone in that business around the Twin Cities.

"Canada, Mexico...I've taken people from just about everywhere," he said.

As part of his business, Ouachita River Pontoon Cruises, he'll take anyone out to see the waters. He's basically turned the river into his office. He's put 12-hundred miles on his motor in just this past year and a half.

"That tells you how many trips I've made up and down the river," he said.

But it's also been his home for the past 18 years, living in a house boat right on the river. Life on the water flows through his blood.

"My grandfather was a river boat pilot and my daddy was raised on the river," Brown said. "So it's just, I got a double dose of it. It's strictly genetic, I know it is."

He says he knows a lot of people who've lived in the area all of their lives, but have taken the river for granted.

"For me, it's beyond imagination. I mean, you could have the worst day in the world...And get on this river, and it's like God's made Xanax," Brown laughed. "You just can't hold on to the problems of the world when you're looking at this."

And he's not encouraging everyone to just pack up and jump in.

"It's not for everybody to be on the river...But it's for everybody to get on the river for a little while," he said.

Brown said parts of the river are like a post card picture or a story book -- like the night he watched a meteor shower.

"They went so long, you're like, 'hey that's gonna hit something, you know!" he said. "On the moonlit nights, where there's a full moon, you can ride down the river and almost read a newspaper. It's that bright."

One of the best things about the Ouachita, he said, is find that perfect spot of silence. And the animals.

"I've seen alligators I've seen foxes, I've seen deer," he said. "It's almost like National Geographic."

He does use a truck to navigate by land, but it's easy to tell which vehicle he prefers.

"If I can get to it by boat...I go by boat. I'm trying to figure how to get a Walmart on here somewhere," he said. "I could live permanently on the water. Not even hit dry land, unless I just had to. But I'm still part of the real world, so I've gotta go to Walmart sooner or later."

He just wants everyone to take a minute and see what he sees in the Ouachita River.

"Slow down.... and enjoy the river," he said.
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