Travelling the Mississippi in a VW bus

Locking through Keokuk


Every man has a dream.

Greg Michaels of Westminster, Colo., spent the better part of 20 years dreaming of building a boat. But this was not just any boat – this was a “riverbus” and Thursday it brought him to Lee County.

A seed was planted in Michaels’ mind many years ago while traveling in the 1973 Volkswagen camper bus he owned with his wife.

“We traveled all over in this thing. The suspension was shaky and at one point we were close to the Mississippi and I thought, ‘This thing should be a boat,’” he said.

The project didn’t begin immediately, but Michaels didn’t just leave the camper bus sit in the driveway to rot either. In fact, that camper bus was still a functioning vehicle last year.

“That thing was still running last December when he (Greg) drove it into his garage to begin this journey,” said Doug Michaels, brother and road crew support member.

Now, Greg Michaels is embarking on a two-week adventure in his “riverbus.” He plans to spend a week on the river making his way to Louisiana, where he will meet his brother and they will spend another week making their way home.

Michaels has not encountered any problems with the size of his boat or from the addition of a full-sized Volkswagen. He said the addition of the camper bus actually stabilized the pontoon because of the width.

There has, however, been one minor setback in his journey. When building his boat he accidentally wired the steering incorrectly.

“When I turned left I went right and when I turned right I went left,” Michaels laughed.

Other than that minor complication, which Michaels has since repaired, the remainder of the trip has been right on schedule.

Krystal Shannon, special sections editor and a staff writer at the Fort Madison Daily Democrat, can be emailed at

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