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Where we’ve been this week….

October 20th, 2003 · 1 Comment

Last week we went away as a family for a few days to Port Angeles, where we got a much-needed break. Ted had finished the copy-edits for his book only a few days earlier, and he has also had a couple other things keeping him pretty busy as well. It was a blessing to stay with friends at their home on the coast. A great time to be away from the phone, bills, yes maybe even the blogs….

Some highlights of our little vacation included: Getting out to Salt Creek Campground where, even in the rain and high tide, we walked down to some rocks. We saw cormorant and a harbor seal swimming around. Lots of kelp and wind-swept trees. Empty mussel shells and a guarding gull.

It rained and rained so we spent most of the time indoors. There were plenty of deer visitors outside to exchange glances with us through the glass. One day we watched a party of four, a stag and his harem. The male liked marking one of the trees, pressing his head against it again and again, removing the bark. The next day a doe sat down on the lawn, like a contented cow, chewing cud, as if it were her own home. According to our hosts, the deer eat plenty of things in the garden that they are not supposed to be able or interested to eat! We saw it ourselves with our own eyes as they nibbled here and there….

Our friends like John McCutcheon . I don’t think I had heard him before. The girls had fun dancing and listening to his Summersongs and Wintersongs albums. Abigail remembers the songs about “hot chocolate” “soup” and “the flu”.

We also watched Ken Burns’ documentary on Lewis and Clark . As a native of the Northwest, I am ashamed to admit that I did not know (remember?) much about this expedition. Although perhaps a bit over their heads, the girls liked to watch it too. “Captain Michaela” was amused to hear about “Captain Lewis”, another captain. I think Abigail will remember that the expedition preferred eating dogs to salmon, here in the Columbia River basin.

I was struck by the beauty and diversity of our country, its landscape, from prairie to Rockies to forest. The creatures too – prairie dogs (one sent back to Jefferson), buffalo, elk. Also the sense of adventure – how little we have in our society today, how we go to the movies, watch TV or play games in order to grasp that same adrenalin rush that the expedition lived each day. How hard it was at times – wearing out moccasins in two days as they carried their boat over prickly pears.

The ways that Native women twice were involved with saving the life of Lewis and Clark and their men fascinated me. One of those women, Sacagawea, is a familiar name, but I did not know much about her. I did not know how young she was – 16 – and that during her time with the expedition she took her infant son with her. He was 18 months old when they arrived back at their home. How Lewis and Clark allowed each person in the party to vote, including Sacagawea and York, a slave, when they needed to decide how to spend the winter on the West Coast is an amazing American moment: democracy indeed! Hearing what happened to the members of the party after they returned home was also fascinating and sad. I didn’t think I would like the movie as much as I did: it gave me a lot to praise and ponder in America.

I’ve found myself thinking about Lewis and Clark’s adventure a lot. Looking at Elisabeth, I think a lot about Sacagawea carrying her baby. At the grocery store, I gave the girls prickly pears to touch and we talked about how it would feel to walk while carrying a boat over these cacti.

Today the girls and I took out a big U.S. map, flattening it across the living room floor with our arms. We tried to trace the expedition’s journey, spreading our fingers across the miles of our country, over the mountains and rivers, from sea to sea.

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Julie Leung: Seedlings & Sprouts // Aug 3, 2004 at 1:14 am

    Lewis and Clark and the Corp of Discovery: Fort Clatsop

    For months, ever since we saw Ken Burns’ documentary on Lewis and Clark, I’ve wanted to take the girls to Fort Clatsop, where the Corp of Discovery wintered in 1805. The history and fun of the adventure appealed to me….