A Weekly Offering of This n That

Rainy Day is my alter ego. She is the little angel that sits on one shoulder and whispers in my ear to forgo that 6" piece of triple chocolate fudge with the four scoops of ice cream on it; she is also the little devil who sits on my other shoulder and convinces me that I can eat just one bite of each and be satisfied, and then laughs with such great abandon when in fact, I eat the whole thing, she falls off my shoulder. Mostly, Rainy Day helps me see the humor in living and, mostly, she encourages me down the right path. Not necessarily the straight and narrow one (how fun is that?) but the path that offers the most adventure and fun.

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Side Trip to Devils Tower

As promised last week, a side trip to Devils Tower. But first, a message from our sponsor! That would be the book, "Madame Dorion: Her Journey to the Oregon Country."

"I enjoyed the book very much, could not put it down. I've recently traveled parts of the trail she traveled, and often wondered why our local park is named for Madame Dorion. I liked the descriptions of daily life for the trappers and hunters. Seldom do we see a woman's view. Even though the woman's view is reflected from actual diaries from other male trappers, it rings true. The book is a good representation of various cultures who must learn to live side by side, and interact for survival." –CL

Don't forget Mother's Day is coming—sooner than you think! This little book is the perfect gift—a story about a mother with indomitable spirit for a mother who raised you right, showing her true spirit. Or grit. ;-)

Now back to our regularly scheduled blogramming:

Sidekick Judith & her two Flat Grandsons
I found no mention in the journals and books I read that the Astorians travelled by what is today known as Devil's Tower. Prior to 1875 when it was named Devils Tower during an expedition led by Col. Richard Irving Dodge due to an interpreter who misinterpreted the name to mean Bad God's Tower. (The apostrophe was deleted following a geographic naming standard.)

If the early trappers visited the tower, there is no record of it, and no graffiti to show for it, and they were great for writing/carving their names and the year visited on anything they found that wouldn't run away. Frankly, I'm surprised I've never heard of a trapper named "Kilroy." The first documented non Native visitors were members of CPT Wm. F. Raynolds' expedition to Yellowstone in 1859.

Devils Tower from the North (I think)
Devils Tower from the South
Tribes of the area, including Arapaho, Crow, Cheyenne, Kiowa, Lakota, and Shoshone had their own cultural and geographical ties to the monolith before the white men came along. These names include: Aloft on a Rock (Kiowa), Bear's House (Cheyenne), Bear's Lair (Cheyenne, Crow), Home of Bears (Crow), Bear's Lodge (Cheyenne, Lakota), Bear's Lodge Butte (Lakota), Bear's Tipi (Arapaho, Cheyenne), Tree Rock (Kiowa), and Grizzly Bear Lodge (Lakota).

In all probability, the Astorians were a tad too far north to see the tower. We, however, made a side trip to see it, and were not disappointed. We drove around it, but did not go into Park itself. Undoubtedly, we missed a great deal of information, but wanted to get back on the road.

It really does just jut up from the plain
The Tower stands 5,114 feet into the air, and is quite impressive. If you check the Wikipedia site below, you will find a great deal of information about the Geological history, Native American folklore, and if you're so inclined, information about climbing the tower.

Close up of the layers
If you watched the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" you undoubtedly recognize the tower. If you haven't seen the movie, get thee to Netflix! Do not pass Go, and do not collect $200!

Type "Devils Tower Wyoming" into your favorite Search Engine to find all the information you will ever want, and then some, about this intriguing monument.

for most of my source material for this blog.)

Next week we finally reach the Powder River – an inch deep and a mile wide. ;-)
After this one, we headed back to our trip

Monday, April 7, 2014

Slim Buttes and Castle Rock Butte. Or, a whole lotta nuthin'.

One of the reviews on Madame Dorion: Her Journey to the Oregon Country.

"I've been a longtime fan of pioneer women's diaries and have often traveled the northwest roads, looking at the landscape and trying to see it through the eyes of a woman who might have traversed it back in the 1800s. Marie's story--told in journal form--in format might be fictional, but many of the entries have been based on real-life journal entries by the trappers with whom she traveled years before the more well-known Westward movement began over the "Oregon Trail."

"I read the book in draft form and again after publication. Both times, I "felt" the (albeit fictional) urgency to reach Astoria where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean *before* her baby was born. Both reads, I was reminded about the early misconceptions of distances and geographical obstacles they faced (factual).

"This historical fiction telling of Marie's story without splitting the focus on all the other members of the *voyageurs" was appropriate to give a reader a notion of exactly who is the woman for whom the "Madame Dorion Memorial Park" in eastern WA State was named. --J.W."

One of the first of the Slim Buttes we saw. As you can see, there are trees here,
to some degree. Mostly where they find water/
As promised, today we head into and through the Slim Buttes country.

16 August 1811, the party left the Big River, and the gentle rolling hills and passed through what is today Custer Park, near Reva, SD.  They received their name because they are wide in one direction and narrow in the other. Some of the men climbed them, but they were too steep for Marie. Highway 20 goes through the park.

Close up of above. I wouldn't want to climb it, either. Pregnant or not!
The men killed a big horn sheep the next day, a welcome change to their diet. They saw several red-tailed deer, but the men thought black tailed deer tasted better.

Having left the river, they were now into dry, broken, and desolate country, but they ate well when the men could get fresh buffalo or deer. The land was broken and rough, and there were no trees for shade or shelter. At first glance, it was a whole lot of nothing, but there was food to be had if one knew where to look. Not much water. And a lot of dust.

Take a good look at this green. It's about they last they see outside of
streams and mountains.
It was difficult to trace their exact route. I thought they might have gone due west to the Powder River, but in talking with a historian very familiar with the expedition and that part of the country, he assured me they never went into Montana, and turned south, then west into Wyoming. A long, hard, and very dry trip. By now, there is no doubt Marie is pregnant and she still does her share of the work, plus she cares for the boys. She carries Paul, not yet 3, in a sling over her right hip.
Castle Rock Butte on way to Belle Fourche SD
I do not know if they saw Castle Rock Butte, the photo gives you some idea of the desolation they went through. This woman must have had an indomitable spirit to have walked as far as she did, only complaining once (that we have a record of, when she thought she was pregnant and wanted to stay and Pierre wouldn't let her), and to have had her two boys with her. Life was hard in that day and age. Not sure I could have done it. But, then, had I been born to it, it might not have been so ba

Out of the Slim Buttes area, this is what they saw for the majority of their trip.
I don't know if they came the same route we did, or if they saw this particular
butte, but it is indicative of the land through which they travelled taking
turns on the horse and walking, and Marie with her Paul in the sling at her left hip.

Next week a side trip to the Devil's Tower.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Up the Big (Grand) River

It's Tuesday. I apologize for not posting yesterday, but due to circumstances beyond my control....

As I write this, it's 52 degrees outside. I believe it's safe to say that Spring has Sprung! At least in my corner of the world;-)

A slight variance from talking about Madame Dorion today—to bragging about my radio play "The Cure" which can be found on http://www.radioheyday.com.  Does your spouse have an addiction that is disrupting your life? Spend 22 minutes and see how Winifred, with a little help from Inky, is able to cure her husband of his addiction. And now, back to our regularly scheduled programing.

18 July 1811. On this day, the Astorians numbered 62 people, including Madame Dorion and her two sons. They had a total of 82 horses which were allotted out as one horse for every two men so every one could ride part of the time. Did Marie have her own horse, or did she have to share? I could find no record. The hunters (one of whom was Pierre Dorion) each had their own horse, and there were 40 pack horses. They began their journey overland, following the Big or as it's now called, Grand River to the west. The journey was a little slower than anticipated as Mr. Crooks, one of the partners, was ill, and rode on a travois.
The mouth of the Grand River where it meets the Missouri. Both rivers are artificially large due to the dam downriver on the Missouri

By the 24th July, they camped along the banks of the river for several days, as too many of the men were sick to travel. Note, this is short grass prairie, not the tall grass prairie often depicted in the old west movies.

Most of these trees have been planted by the farmers along the river.
The only trees grew along the river, and even there they were not overly plentiful. The prairie was gentle hills, and short grass. Once the expedition was again on the move four men, including Pierre, went hunting, and got lost as there were no trees or other distinguishing features to guide them. Fortunately, they found the trail of the expedition and all ended well.

They were out on the prairie for almost a month, following the river to it's headwaters, at which time they turned south and west.

For those of us from the Pacific Northwest, this river isn't all that 'grand' but it certainly seemed so to the locals.
One of the truly sad things about this trip is that Hunt did not want Marie and the children along on the trip. In his only extant, and translated from the original French to English journal, he referred to her four times—as an Indian woman or as Dorion's woman, never by name. Unlike Sacagawea, with whom Lewis and Clark were enamored, and so we know a great deal about her, Hunt was not enamored with Marie, and yet we know that she more than earned her keep, so to speak. She made moccasins for the men, added much to the cook pot, and by virtue of being with them, let unknown Indians know they were friendly people and not out to start a fight.

After the Grand River, are the Slim Buttes, I'll save those photos for next week.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Starting the Road Trip

Happy Monday to you all! As I write this, it's in the mid 30s outside, and the sun will soon make its showing, turning my across-the-street neighbor's house into a warm pink. Our high today in the Washington desert will be 68 or so. (I so love the desert, I'm often tempted to put two 'ss' in it, and call it dessert;-)

Flat Grandkids
I thought I'd take you on a virtual road trip with my friend Judith, and me. I drove and she navigated and pointed out sights. And we each took our favorite Flat People. Remember Flat Stanley? Judith took her Flat Grandkids, and I took Flat Kay (my usual travel companion) so you'll see the Flat Folk every so often ;-)
Flat Kay

The object of the trip was to drive as much as possible, or at least as close as possible, the trail that Marie and Co. walked, so we hustled back to Bismarck ND for our 2d night on the road. Almost didn't get a hotel room, as there was a humongous Indian Pow Wow in town, but we found a room, and gratefully collapsed. The next morning, we crossed the Missouri again, to Mandan, and made our way down the Missouri as close as the road would let us, to the bridge from Mobridge and highway 12. (Mobridge, SD is where they built the bridge across the Missouri, hence the name MObridge).

Fort Rice
Along the way, we stopped at Fort Rice. Fort Rice was not there when Marie made her trek, and they didn't get quite that far north, but it was still an interesting stop. The buildings are gone, unless you count the Prairie Dog apartments buildings, but the corners of the buildings are marked, and there is a good map showing where everything was. It was quite impressive. It was also very cloudy and gray. But at least it had stopped raining.
Prairie Dog Apartment (hundreds of these ankle busters)

The Missouri, like most of our great rivers, is dammed (damned?), and Fort Rice now sits on the edge of a lake, really. What did the Muddy look like 200 years ago? Beats me!

Just above Mobridge is where the Grand River joints the Muddy, as the Missouri was often called. There were three Arikara villages on the north shore of the Grand, and it was here that Wilson Price Hunt decided to lead his Astorians overland instead of following the route of Lewis and Clark.

The Mighty Missouri from Fort Rice
My neighbor's house now has a nice golden pink glow about it. The sun is up. This is not my neighbor's house, but a marker at Fort Rice.

Next week we'll head across country, into then uncharted and unknown country, and start by following the Grand River. Well, as closely as possible.

Pleasant Journeys,