Journal of A New Nation's Journey West
July 8-25, 2001

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During our elderhostel program re-creating the Lewis and Clark Expedition, this website served as a daily journal for many of our crew. More than 60 e-mails came in from family members who enjoyed the daily reports by many of the hostelers. Now it is a permanent record of the trip. 
Wednesday, July 4 - I'm in the last minute throws of packing. Instructions from Betsy. Check schedules with Don. Do I have everything? I am taking two suitcases and four other bags with books, program materials, costumes, handouts, computer, etc. Did I miss anything? I can't keep it all straight. Compared to Lewis and Clark it is nothing. Did you ever read the list of stuff they took? Try Donald Jackson's Letters of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, page 69-74. Thousands and thousands of items. I've got it easy. Tom Laidlaw, Onboard Instructor
Thursday, July 5 - Tom picked me up at the airport at 5:25 p.m. and we are off for two days of personal discovery. First off, was the challenge of finding the mouth of  Wood River and the general location of Camp Dubois. After a careful search, we found Wood River just outside of the town of Wood River and just before Alton, IL. As you cross the river there is a road side sign that says Wood River Creek. We drove off the highway and found a fishing access road that lead us down to the river's edge. Here we saw for the first time the confluence of the Wood River with the Mississippi, which 200 years ago was across from the mouth of the Missouri River. We could visualize the whole scene at Camp Dubois just as if we were there in 1804, getting ready for the grand adventure. Well, our grand adventure had begun and our thoughts for the evening were embellished with BBQ Brisket, baked beans, sweet potatoes and Coke. It just doesn't get any better then this? Or does it? Don Popejoy, Onboard Coordinator
Friday, July 6 - At breakfast we met 3 of our hostelers, Lee, Barbara, and Lew, who had arrived early. Then we met with members of the Discovery Expedition of St. Charles, and marveled at the completed keelboat replica. Went to Bellefontaine Cemetery and saw Clark's monument, then came back,  opened our program box from HQ and started laying out our program. A great day. Tom Laidlawtd>
Saturday, July 7 - Today we spent more time going over our programs and also got a chance to visit the confluence of the Illinois & Mississippi Rivers. Several channels cut the land between the rivers making islands. We had a great Chinese dinner at the beautiful historic home of Mimi & Darold Jackson. We will all visit Mimi's excellent Lewis and Clark Center on Monday, and she will tell us about Pierre Cruzatte.

Sunday July 8 - Don: Today we kicked off our program and met all of our group. Looks like a wonderful bunch of people and a lot of fun. The orientation went well and Debbie Crank Lewis' talk was excellent. Another very hot day, hope it ends soon? Tomorrow we go to the Arch and the wonderful town of St. Charles. 
Tom: Technologically we are breaking new ground, as we can now use the onboard video system to show pictures from a computer. We have some great pictures to share from areas where the bus cannot go, such as Lemhi Pass and the White Cliffs. We are off and running in great style, thanks to our on-site host Nancy Meyers. 

Monday, July 9 - We started the day with a trip to the Gateway Arch and Westward Expansion Museum.  On the way, as we fought our way through St. Louis' rush hour traffic, we had the opportunity to watch a movie that chronicled the building of that magnificent monument.  As the video showed the last piece finally moving into place, it struck me that the engineers and steel workers who made it happen were also true American heroes like the men that participated in the Corps of Discovery's march to the West.  It was a feat that was all the more fascinating in that not a life was lost in erecting that 630 foot high structure.  The parallel with the Lewis and Clark Expedition struck me (even though one man died as the expedition just got started).  Pretty cool, huh? - Lew Miller
Today's journal entry is again from Lew Miller, and Lew  Ofsevit is holding our fifteen star, fifteen stripe flag at Fort Osage.
Tuesday, July 10
- Greetings from Boone's Lick Country.  One of our side trips on the road from St. Charles to Independence took us to the Arrow Rock bluffs, a well-known landmark on the Missouri River. Before you let your imagination run wild, let me explain that Boone is, indeed, related to the fabled Daniel Boone and lick has to do with a salt lick.  Boone settled in the area after retiring from his active service.  For you non-farmers, animals need salt as much as humans do, and natural sources of salt were hard to come by.  The Arrow Rock area of Saline County, Missouri is blessed with a natural source of salt and became a focal point for all sorts of activity, both animal and human. While the salt works didn't belong to the Boone family, old Dan'l's fame was such that people just started referring to the place as Boone's Lick. Nearby was Fort Osage, a restored trading post which served the Osage Indian tribe that was settled temporarily nearby.  The trading post was operated by an agent of the U.S. government and actually turned a small profit.  They could have made much more, but the agent was one of the few people that wasn't out to take advantage of the native Americans.  Sort of restores your faith in man's humanity to man (but only a little bit). - Lew Miller
After a great stay in Independence, our super-hot trip cooled off with a thunderstorm. It let up as we drove, but started again just when we got to the new statue in Kansas City. After that it was pretty nice for our trip to Council Bluffs. Along the way we had a report on the Beads of Lewis and Clark from Barbara Hirsch and a report on Merry to the Fiddle from Lani Miller: delightful pieces of information from two delightful ladies. When we came near Council Bluffs Ann Danchak and Augusta Allen helped Tom read the speech of Lewis to the Otoes. -  "Children: The great father of the seventeen great nations of America, etc., etc." (full text). In the modern Council Bluffs we visited the Western Trails Center, where I got this picture of "The great Chief Thompto and the Little Island Girl , Lois" then it was on to Fort Atkinson, where Big Lew carried our flag through the Lewis and Clark Council site, and through the fort. A very moving experience. Tom Laidlaw
Here are Big Lew and Little Lew at the Sgt. Floyd monument in Sioux City. The puzzle is: do we mean vertically or horizontally big. Aha, that's our secret.

Thursday, July 12 - Who'd have thought that such passions exist about a dead subject?  The subject concerns the death of Meriwether Lewis. Was he murdered or did he commit suicide?  Our speaker of today felt strong doubts about the suicide theory.  After all, if Lewis could shoot an Indian at 30 yards, why did he need two shots to finish himself off?  Yet another mystery surrounds the fabled Sacagawea.  Did she die in 1814 or 1888 or somewhere in between?  I spent many leisure hours last month plowing through an 800 page book which chronicled her long, full life.  Was it fact or fiction?  Personally, I'm firmly on the fence on both questions.  Seeing the fierce opinions on both sides, I feel more comfortable there. Lew Miller (the tall one)

Thursday, July 12 (Council Bluffs to Yankton)- A New Yorkers Perspective ( Jim & Nancy Wheeler) - For those "Unfortunates" unable to accompany us, you are missing a real treat.  Although we have touched only two states (Mo & Ia) with a brief smattering of Neb., the experience has been notable.  We are 44 independents being herded and organized by two permanent guides and many transient speakers.  Wonderful!  Lewis and Clark would be proud.

The museums, monuments and parks of Mo and Ia are something easterners do not see locally.  The environs are always well landscaped and the buildings unique and spectacular in their own right.  If you want a treat plan a vacation trip here.  I was told that MO dedicates one tenth of one percent of their sales tax revenue to parks, recreation and community projects.  It shows.

If you decide to come on some other trip you will be denied the following benefits, however, as they are ours alone:
     - An on-board coordinator who prefers to count noses instead of empty spaces, although he often must start anew.
     - An on-board instructor who displays vast knowledge, is married to a flag and a closet full of hats.
     - Forty-four separate opinions on how to handle seat rotation on the bus and the ensuing two hour discussion.
     - Listening to how unfair it is that men are processed thru rest stops quicker than women.
     - Just yesterday a tour guide named Dewey was describing how dry it gets here between rain showers.  He
said, " The other day someone saw two bushes chasing a dog seeking moisture."  Now, that's dry and he doesn't exaggerate, I'm sure.

The quality, knowledge, courtesy and dedication of the Elderhostel crew - to a man and woman - is commendable and unique.  Be sure to include them in your future. Whatever trip you take may not have our particular benefits, but will have its own benefits special to your group. Jim Wheeler, Webster, New York

Friday, July13 (Yankton to Pierre) After leaving Yankton, South Dakota this morning we traveled to Fort Randall, or I should say the site, as it is no longer standing. it is in a beautiful valley on the Missouri River. they say the river has changed course often so it may not have been then where it is today. I was surprised to see S.D. was so flat. The plains or prairie seem to go on as far as the eye can see. I could picture it in my mind, covered with buffalo. As we moved across the state towards Pierre we did come to rolling hills. The roads along the river are 1804 on the east and 1806 on the west. these are the dates Lewis and Clark traveled along there. Our fearless leader, Don Popejoy & our Instructor,  Tom Laidlaw, have made this a wonderful trip. a great time with lots of laughter.
 
Deloris Hilliard (Deloris, local speaker Buffalo Bill, Nancy Wheeler) 

From Lew Miller:  I've mentioned in previous comments my admiration for the pioneers who followed Lewis and Clark to the West in the early 1800s. Today's award goes to anyone who traveled any distance at all through the South Dakota Midlands in a stagecoach. Today, after a stop at the site of Fort Randall, we traveled the "scenic route" through the Crow Creek Indian Reservation to Pierre. we were often within sight of the winding Missouri, and the rolling hills were everywhere. The operative word is everywhere and, after an hour or two, it felt like we were on a stagecoach instead of a luxury bus. Sitting on a straight backed chair that didn't bounce up and down was a real treat at dinner this evening. and so, as I try to find a comfortable position in my bed, I bid farewell to another day of the adventure.

 From Tom Laidlaw - Well, our personalities are emerging as we learn to get along with one another. There is a great deal of good-natured pointing at each others frailties. It seems that everyone realizes the need for acceptance and tolerance, which makes the trip fun. Tomorrow we will give everyone Indian Names. I think it was Walter Danshak who called me "Never-Ending Tongue." But that's my job, Walt!! The more we fly the Star-Spangled Banner, the more it soaks up the history. Today we flew it at a wonderful highway rest stop with a great L&C exhibit. Tomorrow it will fly at Fort Abraham Lincoln and the capitol of North Dakota. One of the fascinations of the L&C story for me is how they put their names on the land, and even their emotions. Today we were at the site of their first confrontation with semi-hostile Indians. Because of a see-saw of good and bad meetings with the Teton Sioux at today's Pierre, SD they named successive camps Good-Humored Island and Bad-Humored Island. 

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