In the Footsteps of Lewis and Clark
From Illinois to the Pacific
July 29 - Aug. 15, 2012

Home Prep Time Day 1, July 29 Day 2, July 30 Day 3, July 31 Day 4, Aug. 1 Day 5, Aug. 2 Day 6, Aug. 3 Day 7, Aug. 4 Day 8, Aug. 5 Day 9, Aug. 6 Day 10, Aug. 7 Day 11, Aug 8 Day 12, Aug. 9 Day 13, Aug 10 Day 14, Aug 11 Day 15, Aug 12 Day 16, Aug 13 Day 17, Aug 14 Day 18, Aug 15 Reports Final Dinner Galleries Resources Other Years Related Links

Miscellaneous Statistics

Just like Lewis and Clark did, we kept track of and reported on various statistics, such as river crossings, daily mileage, on and off the bus and other things that we found interesting. This year we really went overboard on the river crossings (no pun intended). Harry catalogued not only the Missouri River, which we always do, but took us all the way to the finish for a new record of 31 different rivers and 107 total crossings.
River Crossings by Harry F.
Mississippi - 2 Missouri - 40 Platte - 1 Floyd -2 Gallatin - 6 Jefferson - 3
Madison - 3 Yellowstone - 5 Powder -1 Tongue -1 Big Horn - 1 Blackfoot - 7
Clark Fork - 2 Crooked Fork - 3 Clearwater - 5 Snake - 3 Columbia - 4 Touchet - 3
Walla Walla  - 1 Umatilla - 1 John Day -1 Deschutes - 1 Hood River - 1 Sandy River - 1
Lewis River - 2 Kalama River - 1 Grays River - 1 Deep River - 1 Lewis & Clark 2 Clatskanie - 1
Willamette - 1          

On/Off and Miles
On / Off by Dave M.            Miles by Jim B.
Day On, Off Ttl End City Miles Cumulative From St. Charles  

Miles By State

01 0   St. Charles 0 0     Kansas 5
02 14 14 St. Charles, MO 89 89     Illinois 10
03 10 24 Independence, MO 244 333 244   Nebraska 69
04 16 40 Council Bluffs, IA 256 589 500   Iowa 164
05 12 52 Yankton, SD 182  771 682   Idaho 182
06 12 64 Pierre, SD 281  1051 962   Washington 305
07 16 80 Bismarck, ND 244  1295 1206   North Dakota 332
08 12 92 Medora, ND 219  1514 1425   Oregon 342
09 10 102 Billings, MT 300  1814 1725   South Dakota 507
10 10 112 Helena, MT 215  2029 1934   Missouri 532
11 16 128 Great Falls, MT 132  2161 2066   Montana 948
12 8 136 Around Great Falls 42  2203 2108      
13 16 152 Missoula, MT 183  2386 2291      
14 18 170 Lewiston, ID 246  2632 2537      
15 14 184 Hood River, OR 309  2941 2848      
16 18 202 Astoria, OR 220  3161 3068      
17 10 212 Portland, OR 121  3282 3189      


Our group (July-August 2012) was very much into statistics and beads. We earned and exchanged beads till the end. Mapping, mileage, river crossings, times off and on the bus, these statistics we kept. Somehow we came up with another statistical category, a miscellaneous catch all. It started innocently enough with wildlife, but somehow, morphed into an entity with a life of its own. (Wildlife count is approximate.)





Peregrine falcon






Field mouse






Field of sand hill cranes





Grass snake





   1 (GF)







Lamas (monks)


Banana Slug

1 (giant)

Sea otter





Then we thought, "Hey, there's some interesting signs"

Missouri "Smile Your on Camera" (Fifth graders used to know the difference)
South Dakota "For Heaven"s Sake Stop and Eat Before We Both Starve to Death"
"Bud Lite" metal sign stuck in a reservation home yard. (The owner, presumably, scurrying across the yard carrying, you guessed it, a twelve pack of Friday night fun.)
North Dakota “Pure wool, No bull” –yarn shop‘
Montana "No weapons!" this in the state capital. (Seemed reasonable to us.)
 "Mouse Crossing" and "Chain Up"
Idaho .”.Will Guide for Ride” (Ritchie Doyle trying to get a ride home in his William clark get-up.)
Washington A metal Jim Beam sign doing service as a basketball blackboard
Oregon  "Keep Door Closed. No Fly Zone", "The Mixed Marriage Restaurant" Evacuation sign graphics: poor little hiker doomed by looming tsunami. Sad.

Giant sculptures along the highway caught our attention: a cow, flying geese, a wooden eagle. (Please note these items were not contained in a single work.)

New experience: Before being seated, Standing Rock Casino required an individual signature to receive a silverware place setting. Made us kinda huffy, but we were hungry. That afternoon, visiting the late General Custer's home, Lo and behold! The casino flatware pattern was similar to Mrs. Custer's. No connection, of course, but ironic.

Things unusual to most of us: Medora, NDak, a trio lower the flag, mount their horses, amble down Main St. off into the sunset. Teenagers loiter for hours in front of (gasp!) the chapel. Hotel employees ferry overload van passengers to the local revue on their own time, later return them to the hotel. Refused payment. RR station sign announces only 1260 miles to Portland.

Santa is alive and well in Lincoln, Montana. He sells red flannel longjohns and buffalo jerky.

On the Astoria bridge, workers labor on scaffolding slung under the bridge as we cross the bridge eyeball to eyeball with flapping black cormorants, (Can't remember the last time I looked a cormorant in the eye.) That night we slept under this bridge, not a bad thing, thanks to the Holiday.

Taco John's became a time-honored landmark eagerly searched out (we lost count) honoring our driver and his monkey's addiciton to Tex-Mex. Actually, the monkey, being polyester stuffed, ate no tacos, but rather posed for historical site snaps sent to his daughter, the driver's daughter that is. Our driver, besides possesing legendery driving skill, became an excellent Road Scholar recruiter.

Rest stops, many required given our demographic, offered laughs as well as relief. Apparently tp thieves range the Northwest requiring tissue holders to be under lock and key. "No Loitering" sign warned visitors at an indoor water fountain. This same bUillding had huge exterior doors much like a bank vault. You just have to wonder what goes on in that little town.

Again due to demographics, women began using the "men's" when feasible which led to this statistic: How many days into a trip till this phenomenon occurs? (Four for us.) Voted the best rest stop by the ladies, one with tiny wildflower bouquet of gracing the sink. Almost mystical: Meeting a wandering bison herd up close and personal. The best rest stop ever!

How many diffferent showerheads were encountered? No score kept, but future trips, take note.  

Lots of bikers heading to and from Sturgis with rigs to die for. (Hopefully none did.)

One delightful motorcycle mama helped with our luggage. Said it got her out of washing the bikes.

Early morning, a Latino gardener lovingly tends hotel plantings. The further west, the brighter and more lush the annual flowers till Portland where even fast food chains have rose gardens. Acres and acres of blooming sunflowers, huge elderly poplars and Doug fir, Rainbow tinted beehives. Smoke, sad to say, and fire-fighting helicopters.

The intense energy (that or heat and high altitiude) at Buffalo Jump resulted inTom's racing through the museum with his camera asking women to pose in the skins of wild animals. None were strangers, however, but reputable members of our group.

Animal sign, not tracks, but the other stuff, led to a personal interest in identifying same. The Rocky Mountain Scat and Track book jumped into my hands and I identified coyote and possibly chipmunk. Some people then began pointing out every little dog pile and I found it necessary to warn them to watch their steps and remember that my book does not deal with domestic animals. One considerate member actually presented me with a bag of yummy chocolate toffee Buffalo Poop candy. It, alas, was anatomically incorrect being that of a mountain goat, but delicious all the same. And for those who choose to think of me as the Queen of Scat, I don't mind. They called Ella Fitzgerald that, too.

A couple of final statistics: First trip to Walmart, Anita in Great Falls (and she without her camera),

Two men in our group have delivered (hold on!) 5001 babies: 5000 for Wally, and, ta­da, one for Dave, our EMS guy!

Traveling in the Footsteps of Lewis and Clark, fascinating history come to life in the company of splendid fellow travelers. In future, however, I'll need to resist carrying the flag onto historic sites wearing a funny hat. and the urge to don animal skins and strike odd poses in museums.

Our leaders, Tom and Jenny, knowledgable, creative, talented, efficent, and considerate, couldn't have been better. (Special thanks to Jenny, for providing personal vials of Dr. Rush's Thunderbolts.) Matt our indomitable driver brought enthusiasm and wit. What a trip! Listen carefully, my friends, and you'll hear the horn.

Gerry Mellon