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

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Friday, July 20 -- Great Falls to Missoula -   On June 13, 1805, Capt. Lewis left camp in search of the great falls of the Missouri.  After traveling some six miles, he discovered an eighty foot high waterfall giving him a view of "...the grandest sight I had ever beheld."  The next day, Lewis continued upstream and discovered four more cataracts.  We have explored the same stretch of river, and the falls are no longer falling.  Due to an extended drought and the requirements of the water powered generators on the sites, only a trickle of water now flows over the rocky river bottom.  Black Eagle Falls just feeds a generator, Colter Falls is submerged, Rainbow Falls just feeds a generator, Crooked Falls is dry and Great Falls just feeds a generator.  The roaring waters roar no more.

From Maje Wasch - In Great Falls yesterday, during our "down time", each of us had special destinations. A few went to the Malstrom AFB, some did laundry, others went to Wal-Mart shopping, but I , along with others, went to the CM Russell Museum Complex. A visit to Russell's log cabin studio made it possible for us to "see him at work." His home was small - nice furnishings - a table set as if he were expecting guests -  a piano in the living room, and comfortable chairs. Upstairs in his bedroom there was a unique buffalo horn chair. the museum itself is a treasure! Very commodious with cases containing small bronzes of bears, antelope, and cowboys - in addition to his many paintings. Even his funeral hearse is on display, which was drawn by a pair of horses since he hated automobiles.

Today a special trek was had by all visiting the Great Falls Interpretive Center. Each center seems to surpass the previous one. Seeing the display of the men hauling the canoes up from Belt Creek (the expedition's Portage Creek), visually impressed on our minds the difficulty of the task.

We were also greeted by "Wilson", a black lab resembling Lewis's dog, Seaman. the introductory film by Ken Burns made it all come alive. Walking through the exhibits with their excellent descriptions and dioramas made all our readings and lectures come together.

Driving through the pine treed continental divide was just beautiful! Another great day on our Lewis & Clark journey. To cap the day we had an excellent impersonation of William Clark by Ritchie Doyle, dressed in the uniform of the day. Maje Wasch

Saturday, July 21, 2001 - We have had so many highlights as we've followed the Corps of Discovery trail of Lewis and Clark. As we left Great Falls, MT we viewed the five falls and learned how they portaged around them and across the plains. On to Missoula, MT through the beautiful mountain ranges and crossing the Continental Divide at Rogers Pass. A rest stop at Lincoln, MT at a Western Trade Post, which was within a few miles of the una-bomber's cabin. at Missoula we had a most memorable evening with an actor portraying William Clark dressed as a Brigadier General 20 years after the expedition. He gave us a wonderful insight into William Clark, the person. OJ Thompto

From Tom Laidlaw - At Canoe Camp someone asked: How many men were in each canoe. I said: "Why don't we find out?" Looks like nine, but there is not much room for our luggage. Some of us need a canoe just for our own bags.

From Maje Wasch - After several days of driving through magnificent scenery we do indeed owe Thomas Jefferson a debt of gratitude for the purchase of the Louisiana Territory, and for initiating and sponsoring the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Since I am in awe of what we've seen these words come to mind:

From the mountains, to the prairies,
 to the oceans white with foam
God Bless America, my Home Sweet Home."

From Betsy Miller: I arrived at the Best Inn on Friday afternoon, 7/20, to find the bus already there and Phil ‘Smooth Rider’ unloading luggage as the group onboard received room keys and schedule reminders from Don ‘Grizz’ and local host Lorraine. I am always amazed at how efficiently 44 individuals can disembark, gather up luggage, and head to their respective rooms, all the while keeping up conversations and friendly banter!  I wonder how the Corps of Discovery would handle this part of the journey? 

In spite of their long day of travel and a minor epidemic of sore throats and stuffed-up noses the Elderhostelers seemed full of energy and gave me and my canine traveling companion, Abbey, a warm welcome. The enthusiasm generated by Tom ‘Keeper of the Keys’ and his creative touches buoys everyone along.

Yesterday evening we were treated to the fascinating remarks and remembrances of Captain Clark, presented in first person by local Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation chapter member Ritchie Doyle. Today I followed the big bus into the Bitterroot Mountains, along Highway 12, which must be one of the most beautiful stretches of road anywhere. Kent Watson, a local instructor, led us to several key Lewis and Clark sites – Travelers Rest and Packer Meadows among them. The wide open expanse of green at the latter stop, at the summit of Lolo Pass, was breathtaking!

We also had a chance to walk on a portion of the Road to the Buffalo, used by the Nez Perce for generations and followed by Lewis and Clark in 1805. Apart from one mishap involving a camera bag and a wasps’ nest the hike was enjoyable and imparted a sense of the terrain and an accompanying respect for the Corps and their horses!  And we didn’t have snow to contend with! 

The dry hills of the Clearwater and Snake River country of western Idaho and eastern Washington are a stark contrast to the thick green cedar and fir forests along the Lochsa.  Tomorrow the group will continue on to The Dalles, and I will return to the urban bustle of Portland. I’ve appreciated the opportunity to travel a leg of the journey and thank the members of this July 2001 Corps of Rediscovery and their leaders, Don and Tom, and driver, Phil, for their warm welcome and for letting me share some of their experiences. 

Betsy ‘Jefferson’ Miller ok
Program Coordinator, Elderhostel-West 

Monday July 23, 2001 - Just like William Clark's writing desk was smashed to pieces on the Lolo trail,  my computer battery went dead yesterday so there was no report. It was a particularly enjoyable day, as it brought us to the beautifully scenic Columbia Gorge. We saw many amazing features, such as the Wallula Gap, Twin Sisters, and Hat Rock, which was mentioned by Lewis and Clark. Capping off the day was a delightful visit to the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center in The Dalles. This morning the Elderhostel Program Coordinator Betsy Miller, met us on the road with a new battery, so I can now continue the website. 

"Great joy in camp! Ocean in view. This great Pacific Ocean we have been so long anxious to see." (Nov. 7, 1805). Wrong! They were still 25 miles from the sea when these words were written, and the indomitable Rex Ziak told us "The Rest of the Story." After covering more than 500 miles from the Canoe Camp in on month, it took the Corps of discovery another month to manage the last 25 miles. High winds, rain, hail, and tides kept the party wet and miserable until they finally established Fort Clatsop on Dec. 7, where they sent the next 3 months. Tom Laidlaw 

Tuesday July 24, 2001 - Our mission has been accomplished. We have brought our flag and our people from one end to the other of the Lewis and Clark Trail and tomorrow, like their returning party, we will split up to go our separate ways. It has been a magic and fruitful experience for the entire crew. We have made many new friends and the bus was filled with laughter, but the learning kept pace with the merriment. We have all learned from each other, but I think I gained more than I gave. As the song says: "If you become a teacher by your pupils you'll be taught." It is so wonderfully true. The challenging questions sent me to the books many times and provoked discussion among all of us. Here's Ann Danchak at Fort Clatsop and today's website article is:

From Lew Miller- Here’s a change of pace from the historical aspects of our trip.  The organizers of our journey West have done their best to make sure we never suffered any hunger pangs.  Food was always plentiful during the meals and was supplemented with snacks in mid-morning and mid-afternoon.  Some meals were good, some were so-so, and every once in a while we had a real gem.  An example of the latter was our lunch break at Fort Columbia, Washington.  It was a cool and windy afternoon when we arrived, and the people from Ocean Park Retreat Center, who catered the lunch, greeted us with sparkling cider served in champagne glasses and a lovely buffet.  After gathering at the top of the battlements, we were treated to one of the best bowls of salmon bisque that I can remember.  At dinner that evening at the Retreat, I asked the executive chef if she would consider sharing the recipe with us so that we could put it on this web site, and she agreed to do so.  Therefore, with the kind permission of Ms. Peggy Fuller of the Ocean Park Retreat Center in Ocean Park, Washington, here is the recipe: 

Easy Salmon Bisque 
1 can Salmon (16 oz.), drained and flaked
2 T chopped onion
2 T chopped celery
¼ cup butter
1 qt half and half
Salt, Pepper

In a 2 or 3-quart pot, cook onion and celery in butter until tender.  Add half and half. Stir in flaked salmon and heat but do not boil.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with crusty bread or oyster crackers.

Wednesday July 25 - (Astoria to Portland) Today is the day we say goodbye to our new friends. Other than a few announcements the bus was pretty silent as everyone slipped into their own thoughts. Jeanne Rubin began singing "Now is the Hour, and all joined in, almost spiritually. Strangely, it seems no pictures were taken, except in our hearts. As the bags were unloaded, hugs were exchanged all around and then all went to their separate ways. At least one of the party, like Lewis and Clark, did return to St. Louis.

From the Swiss Chief (Don Rosselet) at journey's end -- From the beginning of our trip, we knew what Lewis and Clark could only have suspected: that there is no Northwest Passage by water from the Mississippi River in the heartland to the Pacific Ocean in the Northwest. Lewis and Clark, aware that they were proceeding upstream against the eastward-flowing Missouri and knowing from traders' and other explorers' reports that there was a westward flowing river from the mountains beyond the territory of the Louisiana Purchase to the sea, must have realized that the best they could  hope for was an easy portage from one river to the other.

 They didn't even find that. As we rolled by motorcoach across westernmost Montana and faced those formidable mountains topped by the Continental Divide, it became abundantly clear why the 1804-06 Corps of Discovery expedition had such a difficult journey over land as well as water. In the Great Falls area, we observed the five water falls that brought an end to Lewis and Clark's journey on the Missouri and forced a strenuous 18-mile portage that took 11 days before the party could return with their supplies to navigable water. And afterward, more than 150 miles south of Great Falls, the party simply ran out of water near Three Forks, where the streams they named the Jefferson, Madison and Gallatin fed the Missouri. The Missouri River, from where it empties into the Mississippi, runs generally northwesterly until Montana, where the river arches to the south. 

By continuing to follow the Missouri and its tributary, the Jefferson, Lewis and Clark went far away from their intended goal. Consequently, and burdened by hundreds of pounds of equipment, they had to execute a U-turn and trudge several hundred miles back north, looking for a passage to the west through the towering and tree-filled mountains they called the Bitteroots. That route -- 5,235-foot Lolo Pass -- they discovered west of Missoula. We crossed he Continental Divide by motorcoach at the 5,610-foot Rogers Pass, halfway between Great Falls and Missoula. Once into what is now Idaho, Lewis and Clark discovered what we now know as the Clearwater River (although they referred to it as the Columbia), which flowed into the Snake River (which they thought was also part of the Columbia), and eventually reached the true Columbia.But even with the westward-flowing waters, the journey continued to be difficult -- with the rivers flowing through narrow canyons and over scores of rapids. It's hard to describe the rugged landscape through which Lewis and Clark and their doughty corps had to travel on the last half of the journey. You have to be there, even in the comfort of a motorcoach, to truly appreciate the obstacles these men -- and one woman, the Indian Sacagewea, bearing a newborn child, Jean Baptiste -- encountered and overcame as the infant nation of 17 states began its westward growth. Surely, it's one of the great stories of America. Don Rosselet

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