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Emma painting Tower Rock -- the Missouri Hills
(as viewed on eclipse day from Devil's Backbone
Grand Tower, IL... see below for more photos)


The Candle of Life Snuffed... then Relit:
2017 Solar Eclipse from Grand Tower

Lower Mississippi River Dispatch 423
~ Thursday, August 24, 2017 ~ Clarksdale, MS ~ Helena, AR ~

August 21st: "...we were all deeply affected... it felt like the world had died... and then was reborn... in a matter of minutes... I felt like the candle of life had been snuffed out and then relit... Emma was enthralled (but then again, she seems to be enthralled by everything)!..." (from Devil's Bake Oven, IL, see below for more...)


Keep reading below for more about eclipse. But first this:

Race for Rivers:
A Clean Water Challenge




Advance Note: This weekend, Saturday Aug 26th, is Race for Rivers along the Missouri River in St. Charles, MO. The Mighty Quapaws will be there! We are joining forces with our sage-eyed eagle brother of America's heartland, Mike Clark and his Big Muddy Adventures, for round trip tours on the Mizzou from historic Frontier Park in downtown St. Charles. Go to Race for Rivers for more information!

PADDLES UP!


Why is Lena wearing this crown of cottonwood leaves?


Why is Timmy smiling?


Tim and Lena, celebrating on East Montezuma Island with their mentor, Mark River

PADDLES UP to Lena Von Machui and Tim-Winter-Nelson!

Why is Tim smiling? Why is Lena wearing a crown of cottonwood leaves? Because last weekend they both passed the Mighty Quapaw circumnavigation cross-channel test for entry into big river big canoe captainship: this is a difficult feat only possible after months and months of training. The test involves stern paddling your own canoe several miles upstream the biggest and most powerful river in North America, then a 1/2 mile ferry crossing over main channel, navigate back downstream, then a return ferry crossing. Along the way the candidates for captainship encounter all of the multitude of challenges the big river presents: including powerful eddies, whirlpools, exploding boils, dangerous buoys and towboats. Tim and Lena's mentor Mark River is very proud. Tim and Lena are 2 or 3 captains he has trained in the past couple of years, the other being Capt. Valencia Metcalfe.


The route started at Montezuma Landing. Paddle upstream against powerful currents for 2 miles. Paddle to the top end of E. Montezuma Island (pictured above). Make ferry crossing over main channel to W. Monbtezuma Island. Return downstream in main channel. Make 2nd ferry crossing back to Montezuma Landing. 4-5 mile route total.

Solar Eclipse Grand Tower


On Sunday/Monday Sarah, Emma and I made a 24-hour marathon run to Devil's Bake Oven, Grand Tower, IL, to view the eclipse near where the center line crossed the Mississippi River...



We camped at one of the most unusual locations on the entire Mississippi River -- the Devil's Bake Oven, a free-standing cliff of maybe 100 feet, which falls into the river and creates a giant eddy below. The eddy is banked by a beautiful fluffy sandbar, muddy flats down low, sugary sand above. This cliff is at the end of the Devil's Backbone. Nearby campground overflowing with eclipse watchers. Just downstream across the river rises another very unusual piece of geology: Tower Rock (Missouri) -- a free standing cliff surrounded by flowing muddy river water. Tower Rock looks like a volcanic plug from the distance, or maybe a small cinder cone, but it's not. The geology here is all sedimentary. It's all layered, and full of caves and unusual erosion. (Later learned it is Devonian Limestone).

PS: This was very near where the centerline of the total eclipse crossed the Mississippi! PPS: The Center Line was just upstream, at Rockwood Island, one of the most beautiful wild islands on the Middle Mississippi River -- and protected for public use!



...The light quality was spectacular throughout the day, full of super enriched colors, full strength hot yellow light punctuated by deep blue shadows, the cottonwoods seemed to be fluttering their leathery leaves with even more character than usual.


...And then: as the sun was eaten away by the shadow of moon the shadow of the cottonwood tree on the sandbar burst into an explosion of thousands of tiny eclipses... which shimmered effervescently as the wind sighed through the leaves... a magical effect, part light, part motion, part coordinated dance...


...as the moon made its move, the sun was reduced to a needle-thin sliver of molten flaming gold, just like the thinnest new moon, but hotter, and less curvature to it...


...At full eclipse everyone around us burst into cheers, whoops and hollers, and later fireworks...


...Venus and Mars appeared at full eclipse (also the red light of a nearby drone someone was flying)...


...Emma wrote a song about a "32-year old mare on the banks of the river" and played it on her uke...


...otherwise the sonic landscape seemed to be drifting into a meandering quietude...


...An adult leaf footed bug stayed near us throughout the period of fullness, even after being flicked away he flew back, maybe seeking solace during this bizarre occurance?...


...Here he is checking out the time (1:15pm) just before full eclipse...


...He crawled over the eclipse glasses. Sarah shooed him off. He flew back and landed on me. I shrugged him off. He flew back. This time I let him stay. He perched on my arm, and then on my back for the longest time, only abandoning position when I jumped in the river for a long post eclipse swim around the eddy at Devil's Bake Oven...

(Note: From What'sthatBug.com: "This is in the Coreid Bug Family, a Big Legged Bug or Leaf Footed Bug. This specimen is in the genus Acanthocephala and has no common name.")



...The pipeline bridge at Devil's Bake Oven (Grand Tower) in full eclipse. You can see underneath the umbra created by the moon to the surround penumbra where the partial sun is still making the clouds glow in sunset like colors!...


...The grace and elegance of a simple prayer: the eclectic and electric pattern created when the outstretched fingers of two hands cross each other... tiny eclipses created in all open spaces!...


...we were all deeply affected... it felt like the world had died... and then was reborn... in a matter of minutes... I felt like the candle of life had been snuffed out and then relit... Emma was enthralled (but then again, she seems to be enthralled by everything)!...


...Sarah was inspired to do a "gypsy eclipse toe dance" between the big cottonwoods!...



...The sun returns by degrees: seen through the eclipse viewer at around 1:45pm the moon shadow is sliding SWW across the face of the sun, slowly allowing it to return to fullness...

And life goes on...

Race for Rivers:

A Clean Water Challenge!


Post-Note: Join us Saturday Aug 26th in St. Charles, MO: Race for Rivers