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Lower Mississippi River Dispatch

Vol 9 No 6c, Monday June 10, 2013

Brought to you courtesy of the:

Lower Mississippi River Foundation

*Note: for the full story with photos

go to our new haven for big river readers!


Bike & Build

Supper & Music 6-8pm Wednesday June 12th

Breakfast 7-8am Thursday June 13th

Potluck Style! Bring a dish to share.

Hey if you’re in Clarksdale on Wednesday, come help us celebrate Bike & Build with food & music. 35 bicycle riders from the Bike & Build Program will be staying in Clarksdale on their bicycle journey across America, hosted by Quapaw Canoe Company. Keep reading below for more details.

Mark River Blog

River Gator Chronicles

River School

(Part 2)

I rise as the sun barely illuminates the sky above the canopy of the cottonwoods, willows, oaks, and sycamores across the channel . I take the long way to the fire to walk the shoreline to see what the River has released during the night. By the time I get to the fire, the sun has cleared the trees and started to warm the landscape as chaperones and students wander out their tents and head for the fire. My first mate Elliot meets at the fire, shirtless and shoeless, and ask a question.

“What's for breakfast?”

I answer, "What else - bacon and eggs!"

He smiles and starts to spread the word throughout camp, as the contingent moves even closer and start to gather. Marcus, the EAS leader, rallies the troops. "Everyone get your journals." They start their school day as Wolfie and I prepare breakfast, while the chaperones discuss the coyote serenade during the night.

We eat our breakfast in great spirit, with the students well rested from their previous day of fun and exploring. With their "paddle wings" restored I knew we were in for a great day.

The Quapaw's gather for our team meeting before we load our canoes. Driftwood Johnny draws a map in the sand, as we start to gather, and explain the route we had taken and what's in store for the day.

We launch our fleet and I thank the Creator for this wonderful day. The River is pristine and calm, with the sun reflecting off the water creating a setting of infinite beauty. The students are laughing and singing, poking fun at each other, while the temperature continues to rise. We meet in the middle of the channel to make sure everyone is hydrated and protected from the sun rays when Oliver asks, "Mr. River, can I jump in?" I respond, " Sure, as long as you wear your life jacket." In goes Oliver, then Lars, then Bruce, then Kye,then Popeye, then oLIVER- and before we know, it's a pool party! The students and chaperones are swimming between the boats and marveling at the fact that they are swimming in the middle of the mighty Mississippi River. I choke up knowing Quapaw Canoe Company is changing the myths of the Mississippi River.

We stop to take a break along the Arkansas side of the River. It's a gravel bar full of crinoids, fossils, hematite, chert, granites, and petrified Mississippi River mud. The students load up on treasures, hydrate, and have a snack.

My first mate Elliot ask, " What's for dinner?"

I laugh, "Whatever's left in the cooler."

We continue on, headed for the beautiful peninsula, Smith's Point. Located on the LBD right above Rosedale Harbor where we will end our journey the following day. The day has been sacred. The River always test your intestinal fortitude, forcing you to work together, and then reward your team with a day like this. The students and chaperones have been won over completely by the River.

We pull into the Smith's Point chute, which is only open during high water levels, and I hear cheers , screams ,and chaos. I look around and a forty pound Silver Carp has jumped in one of our canoes.

I scream," Leave it there, I'll get it."

Excitement roars through camp as I lip the massive, beautiful fish.

The students ask," What are we gonna do with it?"

Driftwood Johnny chimes in, "We either eat it or set it free."

The contingent screams simultaneously," Let's eat it!"

I string up the fish to the boat to keep it fresh and alive while we set up our last camp of the trip. Moral is high. Driftwood Johnny, draws a map in the sand for the students last assignment with the total River Gator route of the trip. Including all the oxbow lakes and islands we encountered and explored along the way. The students and I get our journals . We enjoy the last day of class on the River. I explore the surrounding area and bring skeletons of animals to be identified by the students.

After that, Driftwood Johnny shows the students, chaperones, and Quapaws how to filet a Silver Carp. Then we thanked the River for the blessing and have a incredible last supper of garlic, rosemary chicken,infused with vegetables of all kind- rice, fried fish, and garlic bread. By the way, there was no fish left.

We end the night around the fire singing songs, and "digging down low", and Wolfie and I acted out the story, " the legend of Mark River."

The morning comes fast. It's our last day on the River and moral is high as we head towards Rosedale Harbor where the shuttle drivers await our return. I look at the "Grasshopper" canoe in awe as we cut through a shortcut, that's only open during high water, and say to myself, " We did it!"

According to the River Gator, we accomplish approximately 76 miles in four days.

To end the trip, the Mighty Quapaws set up a evening of southern barbecue and Blues music at Red's Juke Joint. It featured Clarksdale's teenage prodigy's "Kingfish" on guitar and " Hollywood" on drums. The Quapaw family, students, and chaperones enjoyed the food and music, while Red Peyton, the owner, marveled at the appetites of the students.

Recently, during our morning meeting, Driftwood Johnny handed me a card to read. It was from one of the EAS students named Kye. The one thing that jumped out at me was the fact that he said, " Thank you Quapaws. The River changed my life!"

I say to myself, "That's what school suppose to do."

Get to know the River. Go to your nearest (River) School!

- Mark River

Mark River is a guide and teacher with Quapaw Canoe Company and is also the 1 Mississippi Southern Region Intern representing the Lower Mississippi River Foundation. For full story and photos go to the Mark River Blog on BIG ISLAND

Bike & Build

In Clarksdale hosted by Quapaw Canoe Company

Wednesday June 12th

Bicycle Repair Workshop: 5-6pm

Supper & Music 6-8pm

Potluck Style! Bring a dish to share.

Thursday June 13th

Breakfast 7-8am

Potluck Style! Bring a dish to share.

Come help us welcome these young men and women bicycling across America. On Wednesday June 12th from 6-8pm we’ll be having Southern Potluck Supper: please bring a potluck dish and meet the international team! Musicians, bring your instruments, and share with them the soul of Clarksdale. On Thursday June 13th we’ll be sending the international team off on their day’s adventure with Potluck Breakfast at 7-8am. Please bring a breakfast dish.

Lower Mississippi River Foundation Inc

291 Sunflower Avenue|Clarksdale|Mississippi|38614

Contact: Chris Staudinger (504) 908-0121

or John Ruskey 662-902-7841

June 10, 2013

For Immediate Release:

Bike and Build

South Carolina to Santa Cruz Tour

in Clarksdale, Mississippi on June 12th!

Quapaw Canoe Company and the Lower Mississippi River Foundation will be hosting 35-40 riders & guests from the acclaimed Bike & Build organization on Wednesday-Thursday June 12-13th in downtown Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Bike & Build riders will be conducting a free bike clinic with bike repairs for kids at 5:00pm in Clarksdale as part of their mission.

Clarksdale is on the route for the April 22 - August 10, 2013 South Carolina to Santa Cruz Bike & Build tour (SC2SC). This route will take them off the Atlantic seaboard, through Appalachia, across the Mississippi Valley, Across the Great Plains and over the Rockies to the Pacific Coast in an epic journey of over four thousand miles!

Wednesday June 12th

3-4pm riders arriving in Clarksdale

5-6pm bicycle workshop at Quapaw Canoe Company 3rd & Sunflower

6-8pm Southern Potluck Supper: Please bring a potluck dish and meet the international team! Musicians, bring your instruments, and show them the soul of Clarksdale.

Thursday June 13th

8am Potluck Breakfast: Please bring a breakfast dish and send the international team off on their day’s adventure with good Clarksdale cheer and southern spirit!

Bike & Build works with young adults in cross-country fundraising cycling trips. Each rider fundraises before the trip, and the proceeds from their trips are then disbursed to affordable housing organizations to underwrite projects chiefly planned and executed by young adults in this age group. Clarksdale Habitat for Humanity has been awarded several grants in the last four years by the SC2SC group and are eligible this year for more funding.

Besides coordinating meals, Quapaw Canoe Company will be providing housing in its Driftwood City International Youth Hostel (under construction) for the Bike & Build team.

Please call hosts Chris Staudinger (504) 908-0121, Mark River 662-902-1885 or John Ruskey 662-902-7841 for donating food or more information.

Bike & Build

South Carolina to Santa Cruz Tour

4265 Miles

April 22 - August 10, 2013

Starting in historical Charleston, the South Carolina to Santa Cruz (SC2SC) route will be a Bike & Build journey of epic proportions. Riders on SC2SC will log more build days than any other trip in Bike & Build’s history, funding and building an entire house in the process. From its scenic beginnings in the Lowlands of Carolina, the trip makes its way West through the heart of the South, with stops in amazing Southern cities such as Columbia, Athens, Birmingham and Little Rock. After leaving Arkansas, the route will slowly start to make its way up towards Colorado, eventually riding North alongside of the Rockies and into Colorado Springs for a Blitz Build with Pike’s Peak Habitat for Humanity. Over the course of nine days SC2SC will build an entire house on top of the foundation laid the week before by the North Carolina to San Diego route. After the Blitz the trip will continue to head Northwest with stops in Salt Lake City and Boise, eventually taking a turn to the South when it reaches Oregon. The remainder of the trip will be spent riding through the lush California valleys, eventually meeting up with the Pacific in beautiful Santa Cruz.

May 24 - Charleston, SC

May 27 - Sumter, SC

May 31 - Greenville, SC

Jun 10 - Tupelo, MS

Jun 12 - Clarksdale, MS

Jun 20 - Oklahoma City, OK

Jul 2 - Colorado Springs, CO

Jul 13 - Silt, CO

Jul 18 - Provo, UT

Jul 24 - Twin Falls, ID

Aug 7 - Davis, CA

Aug 10 - Santa Cruz, CA

What is Bike & Build?

Core Values

Young Adult Driven:

Bike & Build unlocks the potential of young adults to do incredible things. Our participants are the face of our organization, and the driving force behind all that we strive to accomplish. Through engaging young adults as active agents and ambassadors for affordable housing efforts, Bike & Build enables them to test their limits, become engaged and active citizens, and impact the housing landscape.

Vision Statement:

Bike & Build envisions future generations who are committed to a lifetime of civic engagement and who inspire individuals and communities to create fair, decent housing

for all Americans.

Mission Statement:

Through service-oriented cycling trips, Bike & Build benefits affordable housing and empowers young adults for a lifetime of service and civic engagement.


We aim to instill a sense of empowerment among all of our participants by offering them the opportunity to accomplish big things and tackle big problems.


We always aim to do what is right for our participants, our donors, and affordable housing partners. Bike & Build values integrity, transparency, and honesty among all of our constituents.


We like to have fun, and aim to build a culture and organization where we all have a good time while helping others.

Lower Mississippi River Foundation Inc

291 Sunflower Avenue|Clarksdale|Mississippi|38614

For access, education, and the betterment of public outdoor recreation on the Middle & Lower Mississippi River