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, June 30, 2014

A New Year, A New Life

On the 23d of December, 1811, the rag tag Hunt party left present-day Farewell Bend State Park (Oregon) and began their climb into the snow-covered Blue Mountains. The mountains were barren, and what food could be found was covered by snow, and not easily seen. From the journal entries I read, I gather that the snow was roughly knee deep, not nearly as heavy as it could have been. By the time they crossed the summit, and were on present-day McKay (pronounced as McKee) Creek, they were out of the snow.

However, they were still in the snow, probably somewhere around present-day North Powder, Oregon, on the 30th when they came to a small village or camp of Shoshone. They were friendly, but not welcoming. At this time, Marie, the boys, and Pierre stayed behind as the rest of the men continued on without them. Marie must have looked longingly at the tipis, wanting not just their warmth, but also the women to help as she gave birth to her third child.

As soon as it was light enough to see, Pierre bundled his family onto the horse and led them to the camp Hunt's men made. The men were surprised to see them, especially Marie with the baby in her left arm, and Paul in his sling in her right. There was no mention as to where Jean Baptiste was, but I imagine he sat behind her. Pierre led the horse. There is quite a bit of conjecture as to where this camp was, but it must have been between North Powder and present-day La Grande, as there were trees, and the men had a roaring fire going.

The next morning, New Year's Day, the men refused to travel. New Year's Day is an almost sacred holiday to the voyageurs, and they built up the fire, and sang and danced and partied the whole time. This day gave the weaker ones a chance to rest, including Marie, so it was not a day of contention.

The plain at the bottom of the Blue Mountains. Marie, of course, would
not have seen the barbed wire fence nor the yellow blossoms.

On the 7th of January, 1813, they had crossed the summit of the pass, and were not just on the downward trek, they were out of the snow and somewhere between the headwaters of McKay Creek and present-day Emigrant Springs. They could look out and see the plains where Pendleton, Oregon would later be located. And the baby died. Pierre dug a hole, wrapped the baby in a piece of cloth (from his shirt? By now, I doubt he had much in the way of trade goods), and buried it. The baby was never identified as being male or female, nor was a name recorded anywhere. When Pierre finished, he repeated a prayer he remembered from childhood, a part of the Hail Mary, "Pray for us now and at the moment of our death. Amen."

Sage when it's blooming, not at mid-winter. Horses could eat the sage,
people could not.
Pierre was a grumbly sort of man. Many have called him a wife beater, but the only accounts I could find of him actually beating, or trying to beat, Marie are told about in the book. Part of that was cultural, it was expected of the man to keep his wife in line. If he couldn't control his wife, no telling what kind of mischief she'd get into. There was obviously love between them, as he defended her against Hunt, especially when Hunt demanded her horse. I've often wondered if he blamed Hunt for the death of his child. Would the child have lived, had Hunt not wasted so much time backtracking, etc.? If the men had not wanted to rest and celebrate New Years Day, the child would have lived until they reached the Cayuse village at the bottom of McKay Creek. Could a wet nurse have saved the baby? It is known many of the men had little, if any, respect for Hunt. In Hunt's defense, it must be said he was a businessman, not a mountain man, and he was, truly, a fish out of water.
Marie probably saw lots of birds and wildlife. This was taken on the
Columbia River

On the 8th January, Marie and her little family were out of the Blue Mountains and into the Cayuse village, welcomed, and in a warm tipi with hot food and women to help Marie.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Latte!

I'm late with this post, and I apologize. It difficult sometimes, to write when one has a houseguest ;-)

If you read last week's episode, you saw where I had two engagements to give a talk about Marie Dorion and to sign some books. Photos were taken at both events, and Phoebe Charbonneau of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center and Gift Shop, has graciously sent me some to share with you all.

Standing by the marquee announcing my talk in the theater.
Because I am so late in getting this written, and I have a writer's group to attend this morning, I'm going to leave Marie & Co. stranded in the winter icy cold and barren Blue Mountains, leaving you the photos by Phoebe Charbonneau of me.

Signing books

Were you there? Was this your book I signed?

 Thanks for coming! And supporting both an author AND the
Oregon Trail Shop

I wonder what Marie would think of her trip if she could come back today, and do it all over again in a car? With a camera? I wonder how much the scenery has changed, and how much it has remained the same?

I wish we had a photo of Marie to share, but alas, we do not.

Have a great rest of the week, and I'll try to be better about posting next week. Honest. Trust me. In the meantime, think of some questions to ask in the comments section.

Monday, June 16, 2014

From Cauldron Linn to Hell's Canyon

Had a marvelous trip to Ontario, Oregon where I gave a well-received talk about Madame Dorion at the Four Rivers Cultural Center. The audience was appreciative, asked good questions, and bought books. If you are looking for road trips this summer, consider the Pacific Northwest, and make this one of your destinations—both the town and the cultural center. They have an excellent museum, and the shocker for me, was all the items Japanese. Seems many Japanese were shipped to Ontario region during the war to help the farmers harvest their crops, and when the war ended, they stayed. There is also a large Basque contingent, Hispanic, and of course Indian artifacts.

The following day I headed home, with a scheduled stop at the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center and Gift Shop just outside Baker City, Oregon. Another destination for your summer drives. The Center is on top of a fairly high hill, with a breathtaking view from all sides. There are walking paths to the old Oregon Trail, a wonderful museum and theater, and the gift shop is going to put a dent in your wallet;-) Again, a great audience with some great questions.

Kudos to Matt Stringer (Four Rivers) and Phoebe Charbonneau (Oregon Trail) for inviting me and doing such a marvelous job of setting everything up.

"The author took great pains in her research, traveled the trail, and dug deep into her own Native American roots to bring the reader a plausible reality. It is wonderful that experts provided Ms. Good with credible information so her imagination could create this experience for the reader (although according to one comment it appears she was stonewalled by some). The length and tone of the journal entries change with the circumstances along the trail, adding something extra for the reader's enjoyment and comprehension of this woman's bravery and fierce loyalty to her family's survival. It is a great springboard for readers interested in seriously researching a part of US history not in the mainstream. I recommend this book, especially for those of you looking for a quick summertime read to take beach." –DT

By the 23d of December 1811, they had walked, starving, thirsty, and cold from east of present-day Murtagh, Idaho, and into what we now call Hell's Canyon. Marie had a skinny horse she rode that Pierre defended any time Hunt wanted it to ride himself, or to feed the men. (Pierre said they would eat it as a last resort, fortunately, they found other food).

No one knows for sure how far up Hell's Canyon they went, the walls were steep, and close, Marie had to walk most of the way, carrying her pack, Paul, and the baby was due any time. They were able to shoot a deer at one point. When Hunt finally turned the group back, they found friendly Shoshone at what is now known as Farewell Bend, and were told they would have to go over the mountains, and to do so in winter was to invite death as there was too much snow and too much cold.

Somehow, Hunt and or Pierre managed to hire three guides to take them over the Blue Mountains. They were not enthusiastic about it, but the price must have been to their liking.
Looking up the Snake River at Farewell Bend

Looking down the Snake toward the mouth of Hell's Canyon

Sign at the park

"23 December 1811. All are across, many extremely weak and exhausted.
It took one day to get all the men and the five puny horses across the river. Two men and their supplies would come across, and one man would go back.... Mr. Crooks's men are very weak, especially four of them, which is why we waited an extra day.
            "We are finally all together on the same shore and ready to finish this journey. I no longer think my daughter will be born at Fort Astoria, I now only hope she is born on the Columbia River and not in these mountains. Though, mostly, I just want her born and healthy. As much as I don't like her kicking, I worry when she doesn't.
            "These mountains are barren, like the plains we just crossed. Trees are few and far apart, unless there is a creek or river. It is snowing."

Road side Historical Marker. By the way, there was no mention of her using a travois in any of the journals I read.
Today, driving on the Interstate, it takes about an hour to go what took them easily a week or more. It took me a tad over an hour to drive from Ontario to Baker City, 66 miles. It took them a week to get from Farewell Bend to wherever the baby was born (possibly near North Powder River?) About the same distance I believe.

Monday, June 9, 2014

One Fish

What do you mean, you don't want to buy a book?

The book signing at Barnes & Noble went well. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of people who came by to support me, many of whom actually bought books! A big surprise for me was Barnes & Noble had both Madame Dorion: Her Journey to the Oregon Country and Yadh, the Ugly, my middle grade fantasy book available, and both books were bought. Here are a couple of photos from the signing. I had a lot of fun and greatly appreciate Barnes & Noble for having me.

For those of you in the Ontario OR or Baker City OR locales, I will be at Four Rivers Cultural Center in Ontario this coming Friday the 13th at 6pm for a talk and signing and on Saturday morning at 10am, I will be at the Oregon Trail shop in Baker City, so if you get a chance stop by, say hi. Buying a book is not mandatory (but it would be nice).
The author has her complimentary coffee, for what more could she want?

"Madame Dorion comes to life on the pages of this delightful book. It has just the right amount of fiction to keep it lively and interesting. The story is entertaining and paints a picture of the hardships of travel and exploration across a land that was far from empty before the white man established his presence.
            "I appreciate that the book was thoroughly researched and the fact vs fiction was clearly delineated.
            "The book was well written. The characters were consistent and believable. I would recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about the early days of our country—young adult, new adult, or even old adult (like me).
            "Thank you Lenora, for giving us the story of a strong woman and keeping her memory alive." –DH

They did not see the Snake like this, they saw it in the rain, snow, sleet, and
cold. This does show some of the gentle rapids and sheer walls.
After the party split into smaller groups, Marie and her family stayed with Hunt and 31 other men. Mr. Crooks did attempt to go overland to Henry's Post to collect the horses, but was unable to do so, thereby losing more valuable time. The rain was falling, the cold was bitter, and they walked upstream to find shelter where they could get water and wait.

Sometimes the men would trap a beaver, and Marie and the men brought in what food they could find, which wasn't much. I'm sure once camped, they set traps, but it was winter, and they had nothing with which to bait the traps, and the ground squirrels, etc, weren't stupid. It was cold and they were hibernating!

Note where the falls start, too far down for them to
reach for water. That's a 200-300 foot drop
to the river. If they got down, how would they
get back to the top carrying water? How would
they get back to the top at all?
On 6th November 1811, Hunt set a net in the river, and caught one fish!  Hardly enough for 30 some hungry men and boys; however, when cooked in a stew, it at least gave flavor, if not sustenance.

Again, they dug holes to cache whatever they could not carry, and would not need on an overland trek. Each man, including Marie, carried about 20 pounds of food, plus their own gear. Marie, of course, carried her gear, what was needed for her family, and Paul, her youngest. She was described as carrying him on her right hip, in a sling.

If they could get down for water, they often could not get back up, and
there was little navigable shore line for them to walk on.
On the 9th November, they again began their journey, walking. As you can tell from these photos taken near Twin Falls, ID, the banks of the gorge are high and steep. Water was 400 feet down an often vertical wall. There were few rivers to cross, and when they came to one, it had usually carved out it's own little valley, and they could get water easily. Today we understand that when the rains fell, the water went straight through the thin soil and permeable rock until a third to half-way down it came to an impervious layer, and the water moved along underground until it came to the gorge wall and fell 200 to 300 feet down to the river. This must have been difficult for everyone to hear and see the water, and be unable to get it as they suffered severe thirst. It must have been almost maddening for Marie as her boys suffered.
A slightly enlarged view of above, shooting into the morning sun. Not the
kind of terrain I'd want to hike in a seeming never-ending winter.
Come to think of it, not the kind of terrain I'd want to hike for more than a day trip ;-)

When they could, they set pots out for the rain, but that was not a good or long-term solution. Some of the men suffered so much from thirst, they began to drink their own urine.

Whatever chokecherries or prickly pear fruits (desert figs) they found were or had been frozen, and probably had little moisture, though their sugars would have been concentrated and given some nourishment.

On the 11th of November, cold, starved, and thirsty beyond measure, they found a horse trail and followed it to a Shoshone village where they were given water, food, and a place to camp.