Thursday, August 11, 2011

Uncle Whisker Britches

Getting home today, after another epic summer trip on the road with The Wonder Egg and Oscar the Smiley Dog. The Tacoma passed a milestone yesterday as 100,000 appeared on the odometer. It's just about broken in and has been trouble free . . . what a great tow vehicle. Oscar especially enjoys the back seat area which folds down flat. He has his crate, a comfy bed, food, and a driver who hauls him all over the country at his whim . . . sheeesh!

We were out in the middle of nowhere and Oscar says "Hey Pete, there's Wilson Arch! Uncle Whiskers told me all about it." So we pulled over and Oscar proceeds to tell me all about the area and the wagon trains that passed by here so long ago. He had such vivid detail, I told him he was just making it all up out of thin air.

He then reaches into his wallet and pulls out an old faded photograph of his great-great-great uncle Whisker Britches who was a guard dog on a chuck wagon that crossed these parts so long ago. Oscar says canine oral tradition is very strong in his family and he swears it's all true, every bit.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Journey's End

Members of the Louis and Clark Expedition pulled their canoes onto this beach on November 15, 1805. After 18 months and more than 4000 miles of travel, the Corps of Discovery finally looked across the broad mouth of the Columbia River and onto the Pacific Ocean. "Ocian in view! O! the joy" William Clark writes, "Great joy in camp. We are in view of the ocian, this great Pacific Octean, which we have been So long anxious to See. and the roreing or noise made by the waves brakeing on the rocky Shores (as I Suppose) may be heard distictly." Remaining here 10 days, Louis and Clark scouted the area, making detailed maps such as this one displaying the camp's location.

From a high overlook on the north shore peninsula, they could look far out into the ocean.

Imagine their exhilaration at poking their dugout canoes into the never ending expanse . . .

Today, a lighthouse stands guard over the rocky point jutting out on the northern shore.

Food being scarce and the wind being fierce on the northern side of the river, they moved south and set up encampment at Fort Clatsop to winter over into 1806.
Today, the fort is maintained as a learning center where you can imagine their living conditions and hear the roar of a muzzle loader they used for hunting wild game.

Alas, our journey is over . . . what a wonderful group of friends that participated along the way. Thanks, Judy, for having the vision and putting together this memorable trip! To all, safe journeys wherever you go and may we meet again along the road . . .


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Taming the Columbia

Mt Hood rises on the horizon in the vicinity of a particularly difficult stretch of the Columbia River for the intrepid Lewis and Clark team. Before The Dalles Dam was built, the river plunged over the Celilo Falls and cut through the Narrows or Five Mile Rapids. For more than 10,000 years, Shahaptin and Chinookan people lined the shore and braved the currents while plunging dipping nets into the massive runs of fish. On October 22, 1805, Clark writes "We arrived at 5 Large Lodges of Nativs drying and prepareing fish for market . . ."

More recently, a series of large hydroelectric dams have harnessed the Columbia's energy and tamed large sections of this once roiling river. The Bonneville Dam is one of these behemoths, backing up the water where it is used to drive the electric turbines and for pleasure. Here's a riverside park favored by local windsurfers for its steady, firm winds.

Rising waters have covered many artifacts of previous civilizations. Some local petroglyphs, removed from there original locations which are now underwater, are on display at Columbia Hills State Park on the Washington side of the Columbia.

The Rolling Rally settled in at Memaloose State Park to see the sights. Nearby Memaloose Island was use by the Chinook as a respectful burial site for the departed. The islands name comes from"memalutz" which, in the language of the Chinook Indians, means "to die."
Lewis and Clark landed on the island in 1806 during their return journey up the Columbia and counted 13 structures full of bodies.

To be continued . . .

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Walla Walla

Wandering Wayfarers Wheel into Walla Walla Washington's Wally World

Sorry. I just couldn't help myself . . .

Lolo Pass to Dent Acres

The Lolo Trail was the northern route across the rugged Bitterroot Mountains used for centuries before Lewis & Clark by Native Americans of the West. The Nez Perce traveled east to the great plains and the buffalo. The Salish used the trail to reach the Lochsa river and fish for salmon.

During our crossing, we slept to the gurgling sounds of a babbling brook at Lolo Hot Springs campground. What an excellent nights sleep!

On sept 13, 1805, Lewis and Clark camped nearby at Glade Creek. Here's the open field where they struck camp. Their horses were tethered o the meadow below.

L&C passed these immense cedar trees as they navigated down the pass.

Many years later, Bernard Devoto would sit amongst this cedar grove as he edited the Louis and Clark Journals.
The giant cedar sentinels have been here many centuries as men have made their way below them through the wilderness.

The Eggs gathered in the Powell Ranger Station parking lot to gather local information.

Oscar snapped a picture of this foreboding caution sign. He missed the first one of these, which said 99 miles!

But those winding, descending curves were nothing like the ones to Dent Acres State Park. The steep grade made it imperative to use caution for hot brakes. Approaching the park, we crossed a lovely suspension bridge spanning this mountain lake.

Here's Oscar, standing guard over the Eggs as they relax on the hill overlooking the lake.

To be continued . . .

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Over the Bitterroot Mountains

As the Missouri River became unnavigable, Louis and Clark kept pressing westward and were seriously in need of horses to continue their quest. As they came upon this upthrust of limestone, Sacagawea, who had been captured from her tribe as a child, recognized it from her childhood as part of the land of the Shoshone tribe. They pressed on towards the Bitterroot Mountains, seen here.
Coming upon some warriors, Louis and Clark entered into negotiations for horses and brought Sacagawea forward to help translate. When Sacagawea recognized the current tribal chief as none other than her own brother, a happy reunion occurred. Needless to say, they got their horses.

Later, not all relationships with tribes were as easy. Originally, the Nez Perce tribe was given a large swath of land as a reservation. After gold was discovered, we reduced that area by 90% and attempted to confine this proud nation to one small corner. One thing led to another and in August 1877, the Nez Perce people were attacked at dawn by US Calvary troops and civilian volunteers. Ninety men, women and children of the Nez Perce perished. Chief Joseph rallied his warriors, killing 28 soldiers and seriously wounding many others. The Big Hole Battlefield, seen above commemorates this event with an informative visitors center and preserved battleground.

We stayed the night nearby at May Creek, a US National Forest campground. In the evening, a talk given by Nez Perce elders at the campfire ring held us spellbound. For three hours, we soaked up the stories and wisdom of North Star, a Nez Perce elder, three generations removed from this tragic battle. It was awesome . . .

On Sept 4, 1805, Louis and Clark descended, cold and wet, from the snow covered mountains into this wide valley, where over 400 of the Salish tribe were encamped.
They greeted The Expedition warmly, sharing food and clothing from their own, limited stores. The Salish also provided important information about the terrain that would be encountered in the treacherous mountains to the west.

To be continued . . .

Friday, August 5, 2011

Louis & Clark Caverns, Montana

On the northern bank of the Missouri River in southwest Montana, we rested at Louis & Clark Caverns State Park. As the Expedition passed this spot 206 years ago, they were unaware of the beautiful art nature wrought inside the hills overlooking their passage. Here's a view of the campsite and river from near the caverns entrance.

A very close up and personal experience with the cavern was had as we descended through narrow shafts and slippery passages during the tour.

At the information center, this picture of Catholic nuns who were regular visitors of the cavern by candle light led us to believe we might encounter them during the tour. Oscar thought they got lost and never found their way out! He kept his eyes darting left and right in search of the contemplative ladies. About halfway through, Oscar said "GOT EM!" and he took this photograph of what he swears is the sisters, encased in candle wax, and frozen in time . . .
Silly dog.