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 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.

No comments:

Post a Comment