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Lower Mississippi River Dispatch
No 246, Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Forward: Used 4WD Suburban Needed! If anyone has an old suburban sitting around unused and uneeded, please contact me! Quapaw Canoe Canoe is in need of a 3/4ton 2500 Suburban 4WD. Interior condition not important but must be in good shape otherwise. Respond to this email.
Huck & Jim Intro: many, many years ago while paddling around Island 63 my St. Johnnie classmate OJ was dreaming about diversity, ghosts, steamboat wrecks, irate steamboat captains, searching for freedom, making wrong turns in life, roustabouts, charlatans, do-gooders and do-badders, the difficulties of navigation in the fog, the trail of tears, and other questionable topics of muddiness and earthy education on the biggest river on this continent. St. Johnnie Jim Bailey got whiff of the idea and jumped aboard with a long weekend of readings, discussions, and big river fun revolving around Clarksdale, Mississippi and the nearby Muddy Waters Wilderness. October 2-7, 2014. This is a classic seminar in the great outdoors. Readings will include selections from Twain, Melville, TS Elliott, Charles Bell, and the Rivergator (I AM COYOTE), amongst others. See below for the full package including all of the trappings of town (Live Delta Blues, Moonshine, Deep Delta Soul Food at Oxbow and Bluesberry Cafe, Clark House accommodations) and the freedom of the river (reading Huck and Jim around the campfire on a big river canoe expedition, deep discussions in the shade of willows & cottonwoods, and following the journey/conversation wherever it leads through mosquito-snake-wild boar-alligator infested bottoms inhabited by the steamboat ghosts and the river-lifeblood of the nation). 1.jpg 2.jpg 3.jpg


Coyote Howls: Now available: a new collection of great nature reading for us outdoor-loving river-rats, desert rats, mountain-rats, canyon-rats, ocean-rats, surf-rats and rug-rats! Jay Schoenberger recently published a collection of wilderness writings, I AM COYOTE to help fill the literary needs of all nature lovers from all walks of life and all geographies. The Mississippi River gets good coverage with stories from Mark Twain and Driftwood Johnnie.

I AM COYOTE was created for paddlers, backpackers, mountaineers, and lovers of the outdoors. The collection contains some of the most powerful wilderness writings from Emerson, Muir, Twain, Shackleton, Kerouac, Dillard -- and includes a long excerpt from the Rivergator.

The book goes beyond writings that place the reader in the position of what Wendell Berry calls a “viewer of views.” I AM COYOTE focuses principally on the relationship between individuals and the wilderness they inhabit.

This compact cobalt blue book with a tough waterproof cover and high quality pages will fit easily into your drybag, your bike bag, your artist’s satchel or your climber’s rucksack. Sure its going to get smudged with rock climber’s chalk and biker’s grease. Its going to be stained with coffee spills and driftwood fire charcoal. But time and time again it will remind you of your place in the universe, and how to bring the ever-pulsing power of the wilderness back into your everyday life through inspirational readings.

Jay is donating a portion of book proceeds to the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). Jay was an important advocate in our tax fight -- and also donated several dozen books to support our educational activities of the Lower Mississippi River Foundation.

You can learn more and purchase a copy here:

Endorsements for I AM COYOTE

“Put this book in your rucksack and head for the mountains. Read it tired at the end of a long day, by the light of a campfire. Forget what our culture insists: feeling small is actually feeling good.”

-- Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature

"I AM COYOTE is a reader replete with revelations that arise when human beings encounter what human thought cannot create: wilderness. It is only when we get away from the human-made world that we discover what it truly means to have become a human being."

-- Paul Hawken, author of Natural Capitalism

I AM COYOTE on Facebook

Outdoors lovers! Check out I AM COYOTE: Readings for the Wild (, created by Jay Schoenberger with a foreword by Bill McKibben. The collection contains some of the most powerful wilderness writings from Emerson, Muir, Twain, Shackleton, Kerouac, Dillard and many more. You can pick up a copy here:

I AM COYOTE on Twitter

Outdoor lovers, mountaineers! Check out, wilderness writings from #Muir, #Kerouac, etc. #nature #hiking

Bike & Build Thank You Letter:

Quapaw Canoe Company hosted 33 bicyclers from the Bike & Build organization on Thursday, June 12th. Thanks to Delta Amusement, RUST, Yazoo Pass, Oxbow, Dreamboat Jerry, Stone Pony, and Bluesberry Cafe for helping us feed these intrepid peddlers with some good healthy food. We added pineapples, watermelons, mangoes, organic milk, yogurt, muesli and granola from Krogers of Clarksdale. The Clarksdale Press Register brought a batch of very tasty Indian Chick Peas. Murphy Beverage supplied cold spring water. The Mighty Quapaws contributed a giant bowl full of fresh dewberries that we picked off the vine from a recent Mississippi River canoe trip. These are a group of college kids who are building houses along the way and making donations to local chapters of Habitat for Humanity (like ours in Clarksdale!). Later they went to Red’s for some wild blues crooning by the legendary Robert “Bilbo” Walker and Ground Zero for Big Dave Dunavent. Thanks to Mighty Quapaw river guides Mark River and Braxton Barden for sharing floor space in the Driftwood City International Youth Hostel (under construction). Lots of the Bike and Builders came up to me as they were leaving and said that Clarksdale was their best stay so far, with the best community feeling, and the best food! They started their bike ride on May 26th in Charleston, South Carolina. 33 bicyclers are now on their way out of Mississippi, across the Big River and westward to the Pacific Ocean (Santa Cruz) with happy tummys. Bicycling, building houses and donating to Habitat for Humanity. All voluntary. What a way to spend the summer. Last year they made a contribution to Clarksdale Habitat for Humanity, and hopefully that will continue again this year. What goes around comes around.

Tax Update - Assessment Abated

Friday June 13th: I am very, very happy to report that the Mississippi Department of Revenue has decided to honor Federal Maritime Law -- and has abated our 3-year old tax assessment! What a wave of relief for us! Three years ago we were unfairly charged $42,150.08 (with penalties and interest) for our guiding services on the Lower Mississippi. As you know, we scored a success in April 2014 in the legislature with SB2972, which adds river guiding businesses to the tax code. But it was not retroactive. We still had to appeal to the tax people. Earlier this year my legal defense team had put together a 1,000 page+ package of itemized spreadsheets, letters of support, facts, figures, copies of our operations manual and the Rivergator: Paddler’s Guide to the Lower Mississippi, our map-posters, photos and videos, and an exhaustive defense including a very-thorough legal review, and detailed US Army Corps maps with lines and arrows and comment bubbles demonstrating the nature of our business on the biggest river in North America -- which of course also happens to be considered “navigable” and has been since this law was enacted in 1884 (the year after Mark Twain published Life on the Mississippi).

Today I received a letter from the Dept of Revenue informing us that this has been amended: all charges in this erroneous assessment will be zeroed out. Zilch. Nada. Gonzo. Maritime Law was cited. The river-rat will survive! And you helped us bring the ship around. All of you who signed our petition, and sent a donation to help support our defense, you have made the difference and helped turn this around. I had given up hope until you came to our aid. Together we've made lemonade out of the lemons. We've made a remarkable positive out of a negative, and turned the bad into good. Needless to say I am happy about all of this. Even though it cost us tens of thousands of dollars to defend, that’s okay. That’s the price of education, and progress. Some people are telling me that according to my bottom line it is a “hollow victory.” But honestly, I've never paid too much attention to the bottom line. My Mighty Quapaw guides and I have got to survive, for sure, and pay bills. But the most important thing to me is making the world a better place. And in the long, long run this fight has led to a permanent solution for us and anyone else who gets into the business of river guiding and nature tourism on rivers. And that’s good news for the river. And we’re all about the river!

Lower Mississippi River Dispatch
brought to you courtesy of the:
Lower Mississippi River Foundation
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