April 26, 1805, a Typical Friday Night

There is a fluidity in history that seems to go unnoticed. Unrecognized layers of time and physical space surround our lives and we tend not to see ourselves as contributors to the story.

Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, and the Corps of Discovery marked their achievement in reaching the Pacific Ocean, albeit without uncovering that elusive northwest passage, by spending a miserably wet winter (November 1805 – March 1806) at Ft. Clatsop, near Astoria, Oregon. Starting out from St. Louis in 1804, it would be two years before they would return, surprising many and hauling the tomes of their observations of North American flora, fauna, geography, and culture.

About a month ago, I started volunteering in the library at Ft. Clatsop at the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park. Unfortunately, while the Park draws many visitors with its interpretive programs, comprehensive exhibits, and a replica of Ft. Clatsop on the exact site of that long winter, the research library is down a dark hall, behind closed doors, which is only to say that my volunteer time is usually quiet.

Each Saturday morning, I settle in with copies of famous journals of Lewis and Clark. I enjoy finding the exact date for each year the men kept journals. I can occasionally find a note for 1804, but always for 1805 on their initial trek west and, 1806, on their return. The comprehensive research library also allows access to the journals of other expedition members. Clark noted seven men kept journals on the journey and, although the identities of three are lost to time (or yet to be uncovered in a dusty attic or a government basement), Sergeants Patrick Gass and John Ordway both published their own journals shortly after returning with the Corps.

I intend on sharing a little of each day, as the Corps recorded it, on the day about two centuries later.

(Note: In April 1804, they are yet to leave St. Louis.)

(Note: The appalling spelling and grammar in the direct journal quotes is all unchanged. <cringe>)

Thursday, April 26, 1804

Thursday 26. Mr. Hay arrived, river falls. (Clark)

Mr. Hay refers to fur trader, merchant and postmaster of Cahokia (Illinois) who hailed from Detroit. It seems he was helping with the final compilation of goods and tools in preparation for the departure.

Friday. April 26, 1805

The Corps reached the convergence of the Yellowstone (Rochejhone) and Missouri Rivers. Most of both Lewis and Clark’s journals are full of scientific observations and measurements about the rivers themselves, and the surrounding flora and fauna. It’s hard not to feel slight pangs of jealousy when reading of the abundance of animals (all mentioned on the 26th). The:

“…Antelope, Buffaloe Elk and deer…the growse, the porcupine, hare and rabbit…the bighorned animals, Magpie Goose duck and Eagle…white bears and wolves.”

It’s a safe assumption that the white bear is simply a blonde or light brown colored grizzly (in comparison to the darker black bears they would have been used to in the Eastern US), and not a wayward brother of the polar persuasion. It is noted they killed their first bear of the expedition just three days later.

While the detailed observations of Lewis and Clark were important contemporaneously and historically, I prefer the brevity of Gass, who on this day simply settles for describing the convergence area as “…the most beautiful rich plains, I ever beheld.” He is focused more on a “flock” of swimming goats. Yep.

“…this morning…Capt. Lewises dog Seamon took after them caught one in the River.”

This encampment marked a geographically important region for the journey and what is there left to do but celebrate:

“…after I had completed my observations…I walked down a joined the party…found them…much pleased at having arrived at this long wished for spot, and in order to add in some measure which seemed to pervade our little community, we ordered a dram to be issued to each person.” 

A little drink in the wilds of North America 200 years ago seems to have much the same effect as a little drink in the sprawl of our current situation.

“…this soon produced the fiddle, and they spent the evening with much hilarity, singing & dancing, and seemed as perfectly to forget their past toils as they appeared regardless of those to come.”

Friday nights seem to have changed very little.

Saturday, April 26, 1806

At this point, the Corps is returning east and, although, there is no confirmation on the exact encampment site for this date, it’s thought they were near Plymouth, WA. Their travels took the majority of the written thoughts for the day, as they were:

“…overtaken today by several families of the natives who were traveling up river with a number of horses; they continued with us much to our annoyance as the day was worm the roads dusty and we could not prevent their horses from crouding in and breaking our order of mach without using some acts of severity which we did not want to commit.”

I imagine this is akin to an encounter with those drivers who refuse to use the left passing lane as intended, complete with a road rage threat.

While camped, “…a little Indian boy caught several chubbs with a bone in this form.”

I thought this an uninspired drawing by Clark:

until I found this one in Lewis’s:

IMG_20140426_104914_487

An interesting note, as many times their journal entries are exact duplicates, as they exchanged and copied each other’s journals as a back up in case of loss. On this day Lewis notes they camped, “…about a mile below three lodges of the Wollah wollah nation…” Clark includes a nearly identical passage save a striking verb inclusion, “…the fritened band of the Wallah Wallah nation.” There is no indication of any interaction on that day or a possible reason as to why he would consider them frightened.

Tomorrow marks the end of National Park Week for 2014. If you can, visit and support your local national park.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Sneak-Up of Summer

Beyond having folders full of half-written posts and ideas on post-it notes spread throughout my house, summer has snuck up on me. Trips to St. Louis, then into my summer job, weekend adventures up to Door County, and then a surprise visit home to Washington State for my mom’s birthday and much-needed Auntie time have taken away my time and energy to finish. Summer has officially snuck up on me and I know that, in time, fall will do the same. This is just a quick note to let you know that I haven’t disappeared into the archived stacks or down a dusty, country road in search of my next journey. Many more posts to come in the next few weeks. Thanks for your patience.

The Best of World Book Night 2013

If you read my last post, you are familiar with my failure to again apply to be a book giver during this years World Book Night 2013. And the subsequent pain of discovering one of my life changing titles on the list to give away.

It turns out there were so many amazing people who were not only WAY more attentive to details than I, but also genuinely excited about sharing books with members of their communities. Here are a few moments I found on Twitter that make me thankful and motivated. (I’ve signed up for the newsletter, I’m on it for 2014, guys!)

@wawharton: My GED class in Brooklyn celebrates world book night! @wbnamerica pic.twitter.com/AMWDiML28g

@aikonar: Looking down the bar for #wbn2013
A book about a bar, given to people at a bar, by their bartender. pic.twitter.com/N1zvInzHDC

@jennIRL: stealth-giving for #WBN2013! @corpuslibris is the sneakiest pic.twitter.com/sXwq1XZCFi

@GoddardRiv: It’s @wbnamerica at Goddard and the giving has already started! #WBN2013 pic.twitter.com/mTv8RFhQOz

@VernonLibrary: The fine folks at the Lincolnshire-Riverwoods FPD with their new copies of POPULATION:485 by @sneezingcow #WBN2013 pic.twitter.com/cWQW63uiq2

@saltpublishing: There be pirates on #Cromer pier! Argh me ‘earties— they be celebrating @WorldBookNight #worldbooknight pic.twitter.com/HNJzveYFM8

@MsMelissaBrooks: @wbnamerica just gave away my first book

@nulibrs: #WorldBookNight is finally here & we’re giving away copies of ‘Red Dust Road’ tonight at 5pm! Where? you ask… well, pic.twitter.com/2FLrvPAmhW

@LibWithAttitude: twitpic.com/clb6u5 Have just made a train carriage of people happy by giving them a graphic novel #worldbooknight

Photographer as Witness: A Portrait of Domestic Violence

I always consider the idea of creating a photo essay, but get lost on my way through picking a subject. I imagine it to be something powerful with images that once seen will remain with you or inspire or upset. This photo essay manages to do each of those three things. One side note: read the accompanying article before jumping to conclusions about the ethics of the photographer.