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Lower Mississippi River Dispatch No. 301

Monday, Aug 17, 2015

80 years in 80 Days:

Greybeard (And Anna) Reach the Gulf

Anna at the Gulf of Mexico (South Pass)

In this issue:

* Greybeard (and Anna) Reach the Gulf

* Three New Books for Lower Mississippi River Readers:

1) The Bear Hunter: The Life and Times of Robert Eager Bobo in the Canebrakes of the Old South by Jim McCafferty

2) Pawpaw: In Search of America's Forgotten Fruit by Andrew Moore

3) Part-Time Superheroes by Rod Wellington

* August 29, 2015 10-year commemoration of Hurricane Katrina

“Wolfie” Chris Staudinger

80 years in 80 Days:

Greybeard Reaches the Gulf
Raises Funds for Juvenile Diabetes Research

After 80 days paddling the Mississippi River Dale Sanders reached the Gulf of Mexico this weekend in support of his 11 year old neice Anna, who has Juvenile Type 1 Diabetes. “Greybeard” Dale Sanders also became the oldest man to paddle the Mississippi River! At 80 years old, that makes one day for every year of his life!

Even though the expedition is now over, the research for juvenile diabetes goes on, and you can help support Dale in his worthy cause. As of this morning, Dale has raised 111% of his 20K goal, but you can still make a donation and add to the glory of his mission!


From the Greybeard Adventurer Blog
August 14, 2015

The weather took its toll today with one day left before reaching the Gulf of Mexico. WIND! Several times it blew my boat sideways. Took all my effort to right her back into the wind. Because of the direction traveling, it was hard to avoid whitecapping waves from spilling over the starboard bow. Couple of these whitecaps were large enough to easily swamp a small craft.

It was not supposed to be this way. We hoped to have an easy day paddling the 25 miles to a boat ramp in Venice. We planned on finishing NLT 1400. Actually didn't reach the ramp until about 1600.

Will paddle out early tomorrow morning. Wind once again predicted. Hope to be on the water by 0700. There will be four boats following me on my solo We-no-nah Wilderness 15.4 foot canoe which John Ruskey of Quapaw Canoe Company, a primary sponsor helped me acquire. I have been supposed by several other sponsors all of which are recognized on the "Sponsors" page on this website.

Hope all of you can follow this last date on SPOT Tracker. This company and their SPOT Tracker programs have been a life saver.

With evening of activity tonight coupled with the difficulties paddling today I must turn-in early and pray for a good nights sleep. I pray that tomorrow will be filled with celebrations many followers shouting cheers of joy.

All in all it has been a great ride. Good night and pleasant dreams.

(Dale Sanders, 8/14/15)

Keep Reading for the grand finale with photos & videos:

From the Greybeard Adventurer Facebook Page:

Rob and Robyn Green


Hey Robyn and I just wanted to make sure to extend our congratulations for finishing your paddle. What you're doing is truly some inspiring stuff. I remember I met you on the banks of the Missouri and you showed me how to tie my first bowline knot, and since then I've found myself all over the world involved with any number of expeditions and adventures (and tying plenty of bowlines), but following along with your journey has only continued to foster my spirit of exploration.

You approach life with such love and tenacity, and your ability to set an example that spreads good in the world is something we all should follow more closely. Thank you so much for what you did. You ignited the minds of thousands along the way--myself included--and I can't help but feel blessed to know an 80-year-old river rat like yourself has offered so much to those around him.

I sincerely hope our paths cross again some day, because lord knows you still have so much to teach. You better watch out my friend, that grey beard of yours is turning into the stuff of legend!

May we all keep paddling toward better water,

Rob and Robyn Green

Holly Crandall Barrow

Congrats to my cousin Dale Sanders for being the oldest man ever to paddle the Mississippi River at 80 years old! What a journey.....I don't know how you did. It's amazing and I'm proud of you.

Paw Paw Richard Day

By way of explanation for those who don't know. The road ends at Venice LOUISIANA. The Big Muddy Mississippi continues to roll on another 24 miles to the gulf. Hence, the necessity to board available water craft - thanks to the local DTR (Down The Road - local folks) and boat down to the where the river empties into the Gulf. A long ride at slow speeds, much bonding, fellowship and love generated. As the canoes neared the gulf, the folks aboard, the whole group, were nearby, the sisters, Judi Sanders Silvey and Elaine watched intently, as if counting down the strokes - the group became silent, very silent, the hum of the motors at almost idle speed accentuates the heart beats and the deep breathing going on. And then, Dale Sanders beaches his craft, stands in the boat - not as usual with a raised paddle and shouting - but comes up erect and then with a lean to the left, goes overboard For THE SWIM.


Coltin Calloway

Truly and incredibly proud of my Adventureitus Productions crew who just wrapped up filming the oldest man to ever paddle the entirety of the Mississippi River. Dale Sanders raised over $22,000 dollars for Juvenile Type 1 Diabetes research. The whole thing is such a big deal and I couldn't be more thankful to have a part in it. I wish I could have played a much larger part, but I assure you I will when it comes time to edit. Thanks to everyone who helped Dale and the crew to complete this magnificent journey.

Dave Cornthwaite

There are no more 'I'm too old for that' excuses. My good friend Dale Sanders, the Grey Beard Adventurer, has just become the oldest man to paddle the 2350 mile length of the Mississippi, and he did it in 80 days, raising over $22,000 for juvenile diabetes research in support of his grand nice Anna.

This man has inspired thousands in the last three months, and his lust for life, friendship and the big river keeps him young. What a superstar, Dale, you've earned yourself a cold one. Well done mate.

Donate or send Dale a message of support on his page:

Jonathan Brown

Pop Quiz: Who is the oldest man to have ever paddled the entire length of the Mississippi River?

John Ruskey

This brings tears to my eyes... tears of joy... for Dale -- and Anna. What a journey. For both of them. The vitality of the young heart, and the passion of the long-distance paddler! Greybeard! Anna! A Mighty Quapaw shout-out to both of y'all!

Aug, 2015:

New books for Lower Mississippi River Readers!

Part-Time Superheroes, Full-Time Friends
Paperback – April 23, 2015

by Rod Wellington

Paperback, 288 pages

Publisher: Rod Wellington; 1 edition (April 23, 2015)

5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches

About the Author: Rod Wellington

On April 2, 2013, Rod Wellington became the first North American to kayak the Missouri-Mississippi river system from source to sea, a distance of 6100km. The solo journey took 256 days to complete. Rod’s triumphant arrival at the Gulf of Mexico marked the completion of Stage One of his Magnificent Seven Expedition, a personal quest to descend the longest river system on each continent from source to sea using only human-powered transportation (kayaking, rafting, and walking). He estimates it will take 15 years to complete the project. Rod plans to write a book about each of these seven journeys. No stranger to adventure, Rod has bicycled more than 25,000km, including continental crossings of North America and Australia. He has also logged over 13,000km of river travel, including source to sea descents of the Mississippi River (3700km) and the Murray River, Australia’s longest waterway (2500km). Rod is an accomplished public speaker and author. Part-Time Superheroes, Full-Time Friends is his first book. Find out more at

Pawpaw: In Search of America's Forgotten Fruit
Hardcover – August 22, 2015

by Andrew Moore (Author), and Michael W. Twitty (Foreword)

Hardcover 320 pages

Chelsea Green Publishing (August 22, 2015)

9.1 x 6.6 x 1.1 inches

The largest edible fruit native to the United States tastes like a cross between a banana and a mango. It grows wild in twenty-six states, gracing Eastern forests each fall with sweet-smelling, tropical-flavored abundance. Historically, it fed and sustained Native Americans and European explorers, presidents, and enslaved African Americans, inspiring folk songs, poetry, and scores of place names from Georgia to Illinois. Its trees are an organic grower’s dream, requiring no pesticides or herbicides to thrive, and containing compounds that are among the most potent anticancer agents yet discovered.

So why have so few people heard of the pawpaw, much less tasted one?

In Pawpaw, author Andrew Moore explores the past, present, and future of this unique fruit, traveling from the Ozarks to Monticello; canoeing the lower Mississippi in search of wild fruit; drinking pawpaw beer in Durham, North Carolina; tracking down lost cultivars in Appalachian hollers; and helping out during harvest season in a Maryland orchard. Along the way, he gathers pawpaw lore and knowledge not only from the plant breeders and horticulturists working to bring pawpaws into the mainstream (including Neal Peterson, known in pawpaw circles as the fruit’s own “Johnny Pawpawseed”), but also regular folks who remember eating them in the woods as kids, but haven’t had one in over fifty years.

As much as Pawpaw is a compendium of pawpaw knowledge, it also plumbs deeper questions about American foodways?how economic, biologic, and cultural forces combine, leading us to eat what we eat, and sometimes to ignore the incredible, delicious food growing all around us. If you haven’t yet eaten a pawpaw, this book won’t let you rest until you do.

The Bear Hunter: The Life and Times of Robert Eager Bobo in the Canebrakes of the Old South
by Jim McCafferty

Kindle Edition, 257 pages

by Jim McCafferty (Author), Mary Brock Bobo (Photographer), Jay Haas (Photographer)

Over a century ago readers of sporting journals in America and Europe relished the tales of Mississippi Delta bear hunter Robert Eager Bobo. Yet, in the years since, this most famous bear hunter of the late 1800s has been all but forgotten – until now. The Bear Hunter: The Life and Times of Robert Eager Bobo in the Canebrakes of the Old South brings to the modern reader, not only the story of Bobo’s bear hunting, but a thoroughly fascinating and entertaining picture of pioneer life in the nineteenth century Delta wilderness.

Come now with Bob Bobo and a variety of captivating characters – including the notorious outlaw Jesse James – on their quests for black bear in an environment that now exists only on the pages of history: the wild, trackless, Delta canebrake. Gallop at a breakneck pace through sloughs and swamps, where a horse’s stumble over a cypress knee could mean sudden disaster; thrill to the savage chorus of the hounds as they pursue their game; charge into the cane to knife the bear before it can decimate the pack; taste the fear when the tables turn and hunter becomes the hunted; relax by the campfire on a frosty November evening and listen to the tales of wolf and panther and gun and knife; laugh, too, at comical stories of old time Delta backwoods ways; and, perhaps, shed a tear, as the inevitable tragedies of life visit your newfound friends. The book will delight hunters, outdoors lovers, nature enthusiasts, southern history buffs, folklore fans, and anyone who just enjoys a good book.

But let us not delay! The hunters are gathered; the horses are champing at their bits; the dogs are spoiling for a fight; Bobo is sounding his horn. It is time to ride!


This thoroughly researched and superbly written account of the exploits of Robert Eager Bobo – one of the Mississippi Delta's pioneer leaders and most fabled bear hunters – is better than any cowboy story that you have ever read – and it all really happened.

--Honorable William F. Winter

former governor of Mississippi and past president of the Board of Trustees of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History

Bravo to Jim McCafferty! His skills as a wordsmith, historian and storyteller shine in his marvelous story of The Bear Hunter, Robert Eager Bobo – a real-life character whose 19th century exploits were every bit as fascinating as those of Daniel Boone or Davy Crockett. You won’t want to put it down!

--Keith Sutton, author of

Arkansas Wildlife: A History

McCafferty’s masterful portrayal of an era, now almost unimaginable, when the Mississippi Delta was forest primeval and bears were as plentiful as hogs, brings to life a host of colorful 19th century characters. The reader sees, hears, feels, smells and tastes the drama of the hunt – an essential addition to the library of both Southern folklore and outdoor writing.

--Ernest Herndon, outdoor editor,

McComb, Mississippi, Enterprise-Journal


Jim McCafferty grew up in the Mississippi Delta during the 1950s and 1960s and is the award-winning writer of hundreds of articles that have appeared in Field & Stream, Outdoor Life, and many other publications. His two children’s books, Holt and the Teddy Bear (the story of Holt Collier, Theodore Roosevelt, and the Mississippi Delta hunt that resulted in the naming of the Teddy Bear) and Holt and the Cowboys, each received Children’s Crown Collection designations. McCafferty practices environmental and education law in McComb, Mississippi. He and his wife, the former Malinda Hamilton, of Greenville, Mississippi, have five children and are communicants of St. Nicholas of Myra Byzantine Catholic Church in New Orleans, Louisiana.

August 29, 2015

10-year commemoration of Hurricane Katrina

“Wolfie” Chris Staudinger

My dad and I are building a paper boat for the 10-year commemoration of Hurricane Katrina. It’s going to be a 16-foot, fully-functioning vessel. It will have a paper hull, formed by bonded layers of people’s written stories from the storm.

In a lot of ways, I’ve spent ten years trying to understand the flooding - much of it through writing. But despite my own reflections, some of my most intense experiences learning about the storm have come from other people’s stories.

When I came back to New Orleans after Katrina, I was sixteen. I can remember that my friend Santi told me about carrying sick patients on sheets and mattresses up the stairs to the roof of Tulane Hospital, over and over, until he got taken out of the flooding on a military truck. At that time, our chief concerns in life were how to buy beer and where we would drink it.

It wasn’t until last year that my friend Phil told me his own story of Katrina, when he was separated from his mother and roamed the evacuated streets of New Orleans by himself, trying to find a way out (also as a fifteen years old). I couldn’t believe that we’d been friends for thirteen years, but only then, in the Friendly Bar, was I learning about this backbone experience that altered him, somehow, over the last ten years into the person sitting in front of me.

As I’ve asked people about Katrina for this boat project, it’s the same thing over and over. I get the feeling that?I thought I knew this person, but then, there they are in front of me, suddenly carrying something I never knew they had. I’m amazed at what they say, the details in the moments of someone’s life in an emergency, an emergency we all happened to have at the exact same moment in our lives.

Over one million people lived through that storm. Even more felt its effects, and everyone is dragging around their own emotional debris from the storm. Beneath layers of material rebuilding and a decade of time, this stuff is still here.

What do we do with it?

The late artist David Wojnarowicz said, “Each public disclosure of a private reality becomes something of a magnet that can attract others with a similar frame of reference.” I’m hoping that this boat can act as that magnet. I know that if boats were a salvation from the storm ten years ago, they can faithfully hold our experiences 10 years later, because Hurricane Katrina and its debris are still a valuable frame of reference for people in New Orleans and others dispersed across the country. Through Katrina, we came to know each other a tiny bit better. You could feel that unity in New Orleans after the storm, despite all of the ugliness that the storm revealed about the city and despite the depression. Most of us wanted to come home because we love it, this island, even with the water, the danger, the dysfunction, the problems. There was a shared realization that we live in this place together as a community -- or maybe a shared joy in the realization that we’re here, period.

The boat will be floated somewhere in the city on August 29 of this year for the 10th anniversary of the storm. I’ll send emails about times and places.And please send me emails or call me about stories. The more stories, the more layers of paper, the stronger the boat becomes. Please consider writing something - by hand or typed. Don’t worry about grammar or making your story “good” or “dramatic.” Every experience can carry its own chapter in the book of Katrina. I realize that most people have told this story a thousand times, but writing it out is different. I think that the written word has a special power to squeeze the puss out of a situation. It grants special access to difficult places. Sometimes it makes things better, and sometimes it makes things worse. But usually, things look more clear. There are more details and more questions. In the end, there’s something to show. There’s something for the writer to hold on to, and there’s something for other people to hold on to, as well.

If you would rather talk it out, we can record your story and I’ll transcribe it. If you want it to be anonymous, it can stay anonymous. People have asked, “What about the layers that won’t be seen?” I’d like to accompany the boat with an online and printed volume of the stories as well.

I know that a lot of people don’t want to reopen the wounds of Katrina. It’s a time of loss that is hellish to revisit and almost impossible to describe. I don’t ask for participation lightly. I ask with a mutual respect and as someone who is slowly coming to realize the depth of my community’s suffering (and hope) after the storm.

The amazing thing about a boat is that it can carry an incredible amount of weight and still slide gracefully across the water.

Here are some prompts if you don’t know where to start:

? Who were you with? Where were you? What did you see?

? When did you first realize that things were not the same as other storms? ? Did the Hurricane force you to evacuate? Where did you go? How did you get there? Did you like it? Did you hate it? What did you miss about home?

? Did you meet someone who made a strong impact on you?

? When were you most scared during the storm?

? Did you lose anyone during the storm? Did any loved ones move away for good? ? Sometimes photos carry vivid memories. Do you have any photos from during or after the storm that have stuck with you? Where were you? What does it show? What was happening? ? Did a boat help you to safety?

? Do you remember any dreams or nightmares you’ve had about the hurricane? ? Did the storm present you with any unexpected opportunities?

? Are there any songs that remind you of the hurricane or that time in your life? ? What was it like when you first got back after evacuating?

? Was there a time when you felt like you couldn’t deal with it anymore? Felt like moving away?

? After the storm, were there decisions made that got you angry? Added insult to injury?

? Who was your best friend during that time?

? What was your neighborhood like in the days / months/ years after the storm?

Contact: Chris Staudinger

The Lower Mississippi River Dispatch

is brought to you courtesy of

The Lower Mississippi River Foundation