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OBSERVATIONS FROM THE RIM: PART III
A Trip Down Montana's Wild And Scenic
Upper Missouri River
June 12-20, 1999
It's a rare occasion when time lingers as history awaits passersby, but this one such
Knowin' Jack Scott and him knowin' his history, he'd surely sat on the back porch at Woodspoint contemplatin' the day Meriwether Lewis and William Clark passed by that very place, bein' just a piece down the Ohio from where they'd met and begun their Expedition. An' surely with a desire to experience that historical event, now near two centuries past, Jack organized his own "Corps of Discovery" to the one area which remained pret' near as it had been those many years prior. In the fine tradition of Lewis and Clark, with guides engaged, entourage invited, correspondence recorded, arrangements made, reservations secured, gear purchased, tried an' packed, the time arrived.
With Spring chores an' plantin' laid aside, most met at the Scott city farm to begin the adventure. 'The Registry' included Jack, son John, daughters Joan an' Ann, Nephew Jess, his son Alan, an' cousin Jim Foote. Also included were couples Bob an' Ella Mae Wade, Fred an' Jan Rucker, Bruce an' Donna Thompson, as well as Paul Gerard, Arnold Myers, an' myself, Fred Butler.
Settin' out b'fore breakfast, all met, loaded quick like, and headed t'wards the befittin' Louisville airport. Now you'd not expect a crowd on a mid June Saturday at the Louisvlle Airport, but then again, that's what you'd get for expectin'. We waded and waited a near hour just to be checked in, but it made no never mind, for we weren't to leave anywheres close to "on time". Finally, with an hour an' half passin' ticket time, we hit the runway to "the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes", and at thirty thousand feet, I counted a many of 'em. Those Minnesotans were kind enough to ground our connection 'til we arrived, even though they did misplace a couple of our bags. Near noon Mountain Time, we touched down safely in Great Falls, havin' made up a good part of our delay.
There, we were met by our soon to be new friends and week long river companions; author, teacher, and river guide, Glenn Monahan, an' his longtime sidekick, Hank Wolters. They'd been aquainted years back in the Northeast, b'fore Glenn pulled up stakes for Montana, but where Hank still remained. We all took to each other right off. They'd made arrangements to shuttle our group to The Best West' Heritage Inn. Now this group of folk were not ones to waste time nor resourses and we did not. After a 'shared' lunch at the Hotel Eatry, we were off to see the historic sites Great Falls just naturally had to offer. The coach for the Inn dropped us at the newly built Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, with instructions to call when we were ready to mosey on. We spent a goodly amount of time viewin' exhibits, studin' artifacts, an' readin' 'bout "The Expedition". It wasn't long before we were loaded up an' headed off to C.M. Russell's studio, home, and art gallery. We did make a brief stop at one of Great Falls' namesakes, to see where the river's power was bein' corralled.
C.M. "Charlie" Russell's place was a true treasure trove of Western History an' was much appreciated by the group...'specially me.
"Charlie Russell was many things: a cowboy, a painter, a sculptor, and a friend to many. He loved the West, and was fascinated by the diverse people who lived in Big Sky Country. Living during a time of change, he felt a deep need to capture the images and stories of the vanishing West. He did so in his art, and he did it well!" Lorne E. Render, Director of C.M. Russell Museum.
Again we loaded up an' headed back to the Inn with many of us ready for a good steak dinner and a comfortable bed in which to spend a final night b'fore we took to the river. I'd not more than four hours sleep the night before we left, so after Steak Delmonico an' playin' the one armed bandit for half an' hour on just two bits, I cashed in my chips. I was asleep when my head hit the pillow. The lost bags did arrive just b'fore midnight.
With a two hour difference in sunrise, we were up early and well rested. We spent time cullin' gear, repackin' dry bags, an' showerin' b'fore a good size breakfast at the eatery. After breakfast, bellman Jim took Arnold and myself to the general store (Wal-mart) for some last minute essentials. We had the whole place to ourselves and were waited on hand and foot (literally). After we returned, Arnold found part time work fillin' in at the coffee bar an' makin' drinks for some of us coffee drinkers. Glenn and John arrived at noon to load gear and then we headed out on the hour an' a half drive to Coal Bank Landing...our puttin' in point.
Leavin' Great Falls we crossed the wide open praires, saw the deer an' the antelope play, but no buffalo roamin' or otherwise, ('cept for the slobberin' beasts Charlie Russell had painted bein' brought down by native Americans). We pulled in at an overlook up river from Fort Benton to stretch an' admire the horseshoe bend river view. They call Montana "Big Sky Country" an' it's a good thing, 'cause there's an awful lot of ground it's got to cover. We picked up another driver an' then stopped in 'last chance' Loma for cold drinks and ice cream.
Soon after, we arrived at the river an' unloaded our gear. Glenn an' Hank had all the canoes, paddles, life vests, coolers, an' food containers spread out and ready to go. The Wades were pleasantly surprised at the chance meetin' of a couple ol' friends, the Wests. It's a small world, after all.
Finally, at 'bout half past one, we were loaded an' on the river. Ten canoes for eighteen people with eight pairs and two guides goin' solo. Each canoe carried their own gear, a share of camp equipment and food, along with five gallons of water. Hank had lit out early to stake our campsite claim.
Arnold and I paddled up a storm, but had to slow down when we read on the map that the Wild and Scenic section, we were now on, had a 'no wake' policy an' we didn't want to be detained b'fore we even got started. In the first few miles we spotted a pair of Bald Eagles, several deer, river ducks, redwing blackbirds, swallows, an' more that we couldn't identify. Shortly, we banked river left for turkey subs an' chips. After lunchin', we hiked the bluff to see some 'Tipi rings', probably Blackfeet, an' also saw several flowerin' plants and cacti. At the top, we spotted several large fish surface feedin' on the river below. Back on the river we passed Pilot Rock an' then entered the 'White Cliffs' area, named for the white sandstone rock formations. It was a very peaceful an' relaxin' float.
We made a muddy bankin' at Eagle Creek campground, just below where Lewis an' Clark had camped on May 31, 1805. We'd got a little strung out comin' down river, but all arrived safely by 'bout quarter to six. Hank picked a good spot an' already had our tents and kitchen in order. Ever'one picked their spot and settled in for the two nights we'd spend at this site.
We were cross river from what once had been "The Eye of the Needle", since toppled by thoughtless vandals (see cover of Glenn's book). It's one thing to destroy 'man made' property...but all together another to destroy 'God made' property. Just below was "La Barge Rock", named for Steamboat Captain Joseph La Barge. Just below that was "The Grand Natural Wall", one of the many dikes of igneous rock intrudin' the white colored Eagle Sandstone. I called 'em retainer walls, seein' as how they appeared as such and 'retained' their original form. Glenn told me 'igneous' meant the rock was produced under intense heat an' pressure an' I understood havin' known many Christians 'produced' the same way.
Behind camp was pasture an' cattle, rollin' up to the breaks, with Eagle Creek cuttin'down from the North. We were also blessed at this campsite with 'privy' ledges.
Glenn an' Hank got busy fixin' supper, after wettin' our whistles with appetizers. Some were wettin' their whistles with their own makin's as well. We enjoyed vegetables, rice, an' chicken, all tastin' quite good. After supper we gathered deadwood for a campfire...a pleasure to be enjoyed most ever' evenin' that followed. Joan was recordin' our surroundin's in watercolors, as we shared stories, songs, an' poetry with coffee, tea, an' dessert, b'fore retirin' for the evenin'. Overnight, a light rain chased two star gazers (Jim an' Paul) to cover, but most rested well.
June 14, 1999
A cool damp mornin' greeted us as we were up early for coffee, juice, an' scrambled eggs with sausage, not to mention bagels (must have been Hank's idea), butter an' jelly. After breakfast, we had mornin' devotions 'round last night's campfire.
(Personal note: 'Gettin' away from it all' bein' a time for rest an' relaxation, also offers time for contemplatin'. An' with mornin' devotions havin' long been a routine part of my daily life...an' feelin' led...I sought to combine these two opportunities, makin' 'em my offerin' to the group, least wise those that might be interested. The weeks theme was entitled "The Problem With" for a tongue 'n cheek look at today's human situation.)
"The Problem with youth today is..big round hay bales"
A farmer went out to sow his seed...some fell along the path...birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it sprang up quickly...and withered...they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and chocked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop--a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown. Matthew 13: 1-8
Big round hay bales have taken the youth out of the fields, givin' 'em too much idle time and a lost work ethic. They don't even see where the "seed" is planted anymore...and they miss the leading, guiding, and directing of the wise old "farmer". Nonproductiveness has lead to nonthankfulness. We need to get them back in the field, because that's where the "good soil" is and that's where "we reap what we sow".
Whoa! What in the world is happening to our kids today?
Let's see...I think it started when Madeline Murray O'Hare complained that she didn't want prayer in our schools, and we said OK.
Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school...the Bible that says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said, OK.
Remember Dr. Benjamin Spock, who said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave, because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem? And we said, OK.
Then someone said that teachers and principals better not discipline our children when they misbehave. And our administrators said whoa, no one in this school better touch a student when they misbehave because we don't want any bad publicity, and we surely don't want to be sued.
Then someone else said, let's give our sons all the condoms they want, so they can have all the "fun" they desire, and we won't have to tell their parents. And we said that's another great idea. Then someone said, let's let our daughters have abortions if they want, and we won't even have to tell their parents. And we said that's a grand idea.
And some of our top officials said that it dosen't matter what we do in private as long as we do our jobs. And we said, as long as I have a job and the economy is good, it doesn't matter to me what anyone does in private.
So now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, and why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill.
Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with "we reap what we sow".
Written by: Dr. Wm. Throckmorton
Afterwards, Glenn gathered us up for a three an' a half mile hike...(seemed like twenty) back a forked slot canyon. Cross the pasture, we paused for a geography lesson, eyein' unusual rock formations mother nature had created. We picked up a dry creekbed 'til we reached the fork, then went right. The further we went, the higher the walls rose and the closer they came together. We went through 'fat man's misery', then had to climb fallen rock b'fore we reached the breaks. We followed a dike, mighty steep an' mighty windy, to the flats. Seemed Donna had a hard time keeping her hat on. We gathered back up, catchin' our breath, b'fore movin' on. On the way back, we detoured to 'natural bridge arch' for pictures and more viewin' of unusual formations. After that, it was quite a pleasant walk back to camp, where we'd juice and coldcuts for lunch.
Most decided to read an' nap, while just restin' from mornin's exercise. Bob took Jess, Alan, an' myself out on the river for paddlin' lessons. Did me a world of good, an' proved "you can teach an old dog new tricks." We followed that with a hike back Eagle Creek to look for petroglyphs (rock drawin's). Paul and Jim couldn't keep their pants on crossin' the creek, so we moved on ahead of 'em an' spread out to scour the cliffs. Never could spot one, but we did find a dead porcupine and gathered a few quills. Thought we spotted a petrified rattler, but more likely than not just exercisin' vivid imaginations. We did see a 'hoppin' deer and roused a grouse to wing, but it wasn't 'til it was pointed out that we saw the small faint petroglyph of a horse. Havin' accomplished our mission, we headed back to camp.
Later, several decided to head back to Eagle Creek to bathe, with the cows o'course. Fred an' Jan took a side path an' got 'buzzed' by the first of several rattlers we were to encounter. Paul was disappointed he'd not been along. The creek was good an' refreshin', becomin' noticeably darker in color downstream after we washed.
A group of campers downstream shared their BBQ pork chops an' with Glenn's vegtables an' cheese, we were ready for our supper of meatballs, sauce, pasta, with red wine, to wash it all down. Afterwards, Bob an' Ella Mae's friends, the Wests, brought their group an' we all gathered 'round the campfire. It was a fine evenin' with Arnold's coffee, Jack's cream, Bill West's guitar, Fred's recorder, Bruce's poetry, and ever'one's singin'. There were twenty-seven of us in all to help Bob an' Ella Mae celebrate their Forty-two years of wedded bliss. It was a special evenin' they'll long remember, as will we all...very special!
June 15, 1999
We awoke early to a leisurely mornin' of readin' an' journalin'. This mornin's breakfast was rollups...tortillas with eggs, broccoli, cheese, an' hot sauce, with coffee an' juice. Midmornin' we broke camp an' packed up to leave.
"The problem with Baby Boomers today is...foldin' aluminum lawn chairs"
Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 1 Timothy 6:6-8
We used to build little houses with big front porches, where we'd sit an' rock, speak to our neighbors and watch the world go by. Now, we build big houses with little (or no) front porches an' sit in the back yard where no one can see us. When the goin' gets rough, it's too easy to fold up our chairs an' leave. No contentment has lead to no commitment. We're just too busy...searchin' for somethin' we can't seem to find.
"A prayer in Spring"
Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.
Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts of night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The sworm dilating around the perfect trees.
And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in midair stands still.
For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To santify to what far ends he will,
But which it only needs that we fulfil.
We were loaded an' off by half past ten. A mile or so downstream, we banked river right at the Gage Clark Homestead. Cross the coulee was the remains of an ol' stone house which must have been quite a place in it's day, but long since laid to waste. A might further we passed over Kipp rapids and then on to "Citadel Rock", a landmark and inspiration on the Upper Missouri since 1805. It was noted by Captain Clark as being "...a high steep black rock riseing from the waters edge", since declared a State Monument and placed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
After passin' "The Citadel", the wind commenced to pick up and movin' downstream became much more of a chore. Just b'fore river mile sixty-three we banked at a renovated campsite to make use of the facilities. There was an' ol' hand pump an' bucket with a sign askin' passersby to water the newly planted saplin's. Several of us did just that...but it made me wonder why the gov'ment had put so much effort into improvin' a piece of ground without trees, when there was so many places already with 'em. But then again. that's the gov'ment...an' me wonderin'.
Another mile an' we banked for a sandwich lunch under a lone cottonwood just below "Hole in the Wall". Glenn suggested those that wanted should hike up to have a look. The ambitious trail left us damp and deep breathin', but well worth the effort. We made the top then followed a dike ridge out to the point...offerin' one of the finest views we'd encounter. The sage brush an' cactus 'gardens' we passed, were a sight to behold.
The nighthawks and magpies escorted us on the rest of the windy thirteen mile trip to our night's lodgin' just below "Steamboat Rock ", arrivin' 'bout half past four. Some took time for river bathin' while others read and talked. Several made use of 'the three sided throne'.
Paul delighted in bein' shown a yellow racer and demonstrated grabbin' it by the tail, whippin' it between his legs, an' hand over handin' it 'til he found the head...the humane way to catch a snake, ya know. Then he pointed out how to tell if it was poisonless...or not!
After a supper of rice, potatoes, broccoli, an' cheese with peanut butter salsa, several set out on the half mile hike to Steamboat Rock. As we crested the first plateau, we passed under a mushroom shaped rock formation. It was a real sight, but the real sight was the pink and purple flowers that adorned the top...most unusual and completely lovely. It was a steep climb to the ridge, then a nice walk to the Steamboat. After a short stay we all headed back to camp.
This was our only evenin' without a campfire, but we enjoyed coffee, hot chocolate, an' cookies while John Scott, as Philip Arnold, told histroic tales of days long since passed. We were all to bed b'fore dark, which didn't come 'til almost ten-thirty. The wind howled an' rocked our tents most of the night.
Well, Glenn kept sayin' "we need to do thirty-four miles today, but we're in no hurry". Ha! We did take our sweet time gettin' goin', but we paid for it later. Mornin's meal was granola, fruit, yogurt, coffee, an' juice. After makin' our own lunch sandwiches, we broke camp, loaded up and were ready to leave 'bout nine.
"The problem with today's older generation is...yard sales."
"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
Ever pass by a yard sale? Usually there's cars parked ever which way, often blockin' the street. People walk out in front of you, not payin' any attention. Everyone wants to be the first one there. People grabbin'stuff out of each others hand, hagglin' over the price of something they ususally don't need an' most likely won't ever use. People growin' inconsiderate and argumentative as well as self-centered an' uncharitable. We ought to give it all away...love that is...to the ones that need it. An' who needs it? Our neighbors and ourselves.
Dear Heavenly Father, help us to have charitable and cooperative spirits today. Helps us to love you, our neighbors, and ourselves. And if it be your will, help calm the winds today. In Jesus name. Amen.
It was already windy, (which Arnold had warned us 'bout, havin' previous information from a reliable source) but then it got worse. Jess an' Alan had a particular hard time, with Alan feelin' poorly an' the wind blowin' 'em all over the river. Bruce an' Donna were strugglin' too, in their 'washtub' canoe. We got strung out up an' down the river, but gathered back up 'bout lunch time. After sandwiches and rest, Bob pointed out the dangers of being so far apart and suggested we keep together. We practiced with whistles, our would be emergency response, then headed back out.
Jess continued to be blown around, so Paul spelled him an' he was fightin' it as well. Then I took over from Paul. I've never been in a canoe that I couldn't make head in the direction I wanted, least ways 'til then, an' then I was all over the river too. Finally we got banked, reloaoded, an' Bob paddled solo, which seemed to work better 'an anythin' else we tried.
'Round half past two we pulled into Judith Landin', much to ever'body's relief. Glenn and some of the others refilled our water jugs, while the rest of us headed to the log an' plank 'little store', the only one we'd see durin' our week on the water. It didn't have a lot to offer, but we were mighty grateful for what it did, that being coffee, soft drinks, snacks, ice, T-shirts, and beer. John Henry, the proprietor served us all, then went to his pickup for his guitar. He played an' serenaded with such songs as "Cow Creek" (written by his settlin' Uncle), "Ghost Chickens in the Sky", an' a few other requests, for the best part of thirty minutes, as we sat lined on the ol' wood bench on the little store's front porch. He was good an' we enjoyed it. John Henry had a tepee down by the river he let go for thirty-five dollars a night, an' some of us were tempted to stay, but then Glenn decided thirty-four miles today was out of the question...he an' Hank were tuckered out too. We reloaded an' made 'bout two more miles b'fore we pulled in river right for the night.
We sat up camp, then most headed back to the river for a bath. Again, I'm not too sure any of us were any cleaner, but we sure felt better. I faced my tent towards the river, as I tried to each night, and enjoyed layin' there watchin' the river run by. As I layed there restin' and thinkin', a familiar quote came to mind. "Calm seas never made skilled sailors." As Paul said later, he was grateful for the day's experience and upon reflection, so was I. I gained a lot of appreciation for what Lewis an' Clark had managed.
A light wind continued into the evenin' as we gathered 'round the campfire for a supper of beef stir-fry, with coffee and cookies for desert. The whisperin' of the cottonwoods kept conversations to individual an' small groups. This was a right fine campsite an' made for a right pleasant evenin'. I retired early an' let Louis L'Amour story me to sleep. Durin' the night, I awoke to the sound an' lights of automobiles crossin' the bridge at Judith Landing, somethin' I'd grown quickly unaccustomed too.
June 17, 1999
Up early, as usual, an' packed, we were to make up miles today an' we did...'bout thirty-two to be exact. We had a cold breakfast of granola, bananas, yogurt, an' juice, becomin' our routine, with hot coffee to get us goin'.
"The problem with today's society...No Fat/Fad diets"
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible" Hebrews 11:1-3
To diet religiously doesn't mean to quit eating in church, but we're all on a diet, of one kind or another. Fad diets lead us to believe that we can get something for nothing; results without effort. While no fat diets are just plain deceiving. The best diet plan is well balanced and coupled with exercise and hard work; eliminating physical and mental junk food, exercising our faith, and working hard...on our spiritual lives.
Dear Heavenly Father, help us today in our unbelief as you lead, guide, and direct us in all that we think, do, and say. In Jesus name. Amen.
Some in the group kind o' felt like someone else ought to do the prayin', since yesterday's prayer seemin'ly went unanswered. But we all just needed a little more faith...an' patience.
We made good time this day an' what wind there was, was quite tolerable. We had since left the "White Cliffs" and were now in the "Badlands" of the Judith Basin. They call the hills shale, but truth be known, they're really just dirt...an' that's why the Missouri River is called "The Big Muddy, an' appropriately so.
As the wind died down the temperature rose. By 'bout mid-mornin' we passed Sugar Loaf Rock, then by Stafford Ferry, just b'fore Dauphin Rapids, the largest we'd traverse an' "the worst barrier to navigation on the Upper Missouri". But ya know, "If it were not for rocks in it's bed, the river would have no song".
Early afternoon, we banked for our usual sandwich lunch an' rest. On down the river we spotted mountain goats high up in the rocks an' several Canadian geese 'long shore. We'd seen several white Pelicans an' a flock of 'em flew over in the standard 'V' formation. I called 'em 'large-mouth geese'.
Later in the afternoon we banked to have a look at some fossil beds. As soon as I stepped out of the canoe I went knee deep in mud an' had quite a struggle rescuing my Teva. We scrambled up the bank an' were no sooner covered with mosquitoes. Meriwether Lewis' journal entry immediately came to mind, "Mosquitoes bothersome". They'd remain our constant companions for the duration of the trip, with headnets an' repellants our relief. We didn't linger there long, but returned to the river an' headed to our night's camp at Bullwacker Creek.
The prairie grass was tall an' after unloadin' our gear, we spent some time mowin'. Hank an' I grabbed shovels, while Glenn whipped a fiber rod. It didn't take long to clear a kitchen an' gatherin' area. Jess, Alan, Jack, an' John sat up their camp a little down stream an' soon had a smoky fire going to discourage our insect companions.
After supper, we all joined 'round the fire for poetry, song, an' conversation. A breeze stirred causin' the cottonwoods to 'snow', (we could o' been singin Christmas carols.) As was their custom, Glenn an' Hank did all the cookin' an' cleanin'. They worked really hard to take good care of us. When they'd finished their chores, they surprised us with breads, cakes, an' cookies, with coffee, tea, an' hot chocolate, all being very good. Afterwards, Ann had felt inspired to pen a poem an' kindly shared it with us:
There must have been a vagabond
Whose wanders in my blood
Who used a stone as pillow
And called the road 'my home'
Who viewed the open sky
An endless empty plate
And drank in boundless beauty
With hunger unabated.
Who finds a kindred spirit in
Eagles graceful soar
Lifted by the winds of life
Towards comos' open door.
There may be days with half a sigh
I look back with regret
But onward go a world to know
And a friend I haven't met.
Bright and shining silver river
Flowing to thy destination
Onward came intrepid wanders
Envisioning the greatest nation.
Sustenance of beauty, awesome courage
Inspired the ones who struggle here
Callow cold and brutal heat
Did not deter their mission clear.
We who follow in their footsteps
Marvel at their calming brave
Our mission now is to preserve it
It's wildness, precious, must be saved.
All responded with heartfelt applause. Then Glenn shared a passage from his book, bein' William Clark's journal entry of May 26th, 1805:
"I took one man and walked out this morning, and ascended the high countrey to view the mountains which I thought I saw yesterday...whilst I viewed those mountains I felt a secret pleasure in finding myself so near the head of the heretofore conceived boundless Missouri; but when I reflected on the difficulties which this snowey barrier would most probably throw in my way to the Pacific Ocean, and the sufferings and hardships of my self and party in them, it in some measure counter balanced the joy I had felt in the first moments in which I gazed on them; but as I have always held it little Short of criminality to anticipate evils I will allow it to be a good comfortable road untill I am compelled to believe otherwise."
Tomorrow we'd share the very same view, or close to it anyways. Time 'round the evenin' campfires was some of our most pleasurable spent, an' this one particularly so (mosquitoes an' all).
June 18, 1999
We awoke to a warm an' humid early mornin' heavy dew. We had our regular breakfast of granola, fruit, juice, and coffee. Our campsite was pasture of an ol' homestead an' away from the river was a groupin' of log barns an' cabins, once bein' a sizable Perchon horse ranch. Seems one ol' settler couldn't swim, so when he wanted to cross the river he'd ride his horse in, slip over the rump, an' hang on to the tail while the horse did the swimmin'. Pretty smart, but one trip the horse started flounderin' an' the ol' settler nearly drowned.
"The problem with the church...is stained glass windows"
Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Ever notice when you get in church that you can't see out? We get in there, and get comfortable in the air conditioning, sitting on padded pews and it being human nature, we start criticizing one another. Then we lose focus, causing us to forget what we're in church for to begin with.
Dear Heavenly Father, help us to be better disciples and to go out...and share "the good news". In Jesus Name. Amen.
Glenn had planned a hike to the high country to share the view Clark had written about. John had been out early scoutin' an' had come across a rattler. As we hiked by the old homestead, we found the rattler was still there. Paul corralled him, givin' ever'one a look up close an' personal. Pictures were made while Paul educated us about his friend. We were kind o' like the old Arkansas hillbilly that once said, "down here in the hills, (up here in our case) we uns is generally down on what we ain't up on." Now there wasn't a one not mighty cautious, but we all gained an educated appreciation. We moved on an' so did he.
It was a right ambitious hike of 'bout nine hundred feet. Up the ol' road, we saw many beautiful wildflowers, all shapes, sizes, an' colors, 'long with an occasional meadow lark. A few turned back, but most persisted. We found a nice piney knoll at the top, to sit an' enjoy the scenery. From there we could see the Judith, the Moccasin, the Bears Paw, the Snowey, and the Little Belt Mountains, with the later still bearin' some winter's snow. It was a most agreeable spot, providin' a most peaceable rest. Then we were back down the trail to camp.
Back at camp we lunched on avacado, onion, tomato, an' creamcheese bagel sandwiches, with some optin' for lunch meat, but a real treat. The sun had long since burned off the mornin' dew, while dryin' out our gear. We broke camp, loaded up, and were soon back on the river, headed to our last night's lodgin'. We'd just eight miles to camp, adjacent to the Nez Perce National Historic Trail.
A short afternoon an' a couple of horseshoe bends brought us to camp. Unloadin', some were greeted by another rattler, makin' us mindful of where we pitched our tents. This was the most improved campsite we'd occupy, with kitchen sideboard, concrete table, an' privy. Just 'bout ever'one enjoyed a swim in the river, with soap an' shampoo, 'specially Alan. Some even opted for mud baths an' facials. We all sat at the table, sharin' spaghetti, sauce, an' bread, bein' our last supper, on the river anyways. Afterwards, several hiked out to find dinosaur bones, while Alan an' I filtered water, an' others sat an' rested. We'd still plenty of mosquitos an' face gnats to reckon with. Shortly, the Wests and their group banked to share our camp. When ever'one gathered, we had dessert an' coffee 'round the fire. Then nature treated us to an uncommonly spectacular light show. The sky behind camp, turned a brilliant orange, while lightenin' flashed for some time 'cross river. It was a beautiful sight to b'hold..
In the Scott tradition of recordin' events an' expressin' themselves, John shared a poem he'd composed, as follows:
It was the month of June
At the dark of the moon
When we first met our outfitter Glenn:
For seven nights, we'd enjoy the sights
Down the Missouri River with Hank and Him.
Alan was the youngest and
Jack was the oldest
And the rest of us were somewhere in between,
Although we ate real well, and
Wednesday's wind was hell
We came back from the trip fit and lean.
There were Jess and Jan and Jim, and
Paul and Fred the twins,
And John and Joan and Ann made a few
Then Bob and Ella Mae, and
Bruce and Donna they say
With Arnold and Hank you've got a completed crew.
We followed in the step
That Lewis and Clark had left,
From Coal Banks down the river 103 miles;
We saw sheep and deer
Mixed with wind and a little fear
As we traded tales and shared our sun-kissed smiles.
Paul showed us how to catch
A snake with a sneaky snatch
Drawn through the crouch in order to grab it's head,
Then hearing rattlers left and right
Those little buzzes produced such fright
That caused us all to zip up tight for bed.
At night around the fires
We sang song and told some lies,
As we got acquainted with our new found friends
And when we all get home,
I'm sure soon again we'll roam
As our wander lust never seems to end.
We all enjoyed a good laugh an' agreed it'd be so. We went to bed thinkin' we were in for a good soakin', but the rain never materialized. And we should o' known cause; "red sky at night, is sailor's delight."
June 19, 1999
This was our last day on the river, an' we were all ready to go...early. We had what was 'left over' for breakfast, an' were packed an' loaded by half past seven.
"The problem with...pointing the finger"
Rejoice always, pray constantly, and give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1Thessalonians 5:16-18
Well, we've pointed the finger at just about everyone this week, but the problem with pointing the finger at someone else, is that we have three fingers pointing back at us. We often create the circumstances of a situation and then want to blame someone else for the results. But...let's remember, we're responsible for the decisions we make and the actions we take. When we point the finger, and see three pointing back, we'll remember Paul's words; rejoice always, pray constantly, and give thanks in all circustances.
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for the wonderful trip we've had. Please continue to be with us as we journey home, and help us to remember, "earthly problems require heavenly solutions." In Jesus name. Amen.
The final leg of our trip was 'bout eighteen miles, bringin' us to Kipp State Park, our put-out. We passed island after island as the breaks declined to the river. We stayed pretty close together, as we had since 'wind day' Wenesday. Our maps had been most accurate, but as we neared Kipp, we were passin' things we weren't seein' on the maps...but...we knew we were on the right river, headed in the right direction, so it just didn't much matter. Roundin' one island, I glimsed a Bobcat layin' in the grass, as his head slowly turned with our passin'.
We banked 'bout eleven, an' made short work of emptyin' canoes an' packin' 'em out. Shortly thereafter, John the Van driver an' family, arrived with transportation an' Glenn's truck an' trailor. It was a hundred an' ninety miles an' thirty-five dollars back to Great Falls.
On the way, we stopped in Lewistown at The Four Aces Bar an' Casino for a bite to eat. We were all wonderin' as we pulled in, but the service an' food were excellent. I'm sure they were wonderin' too, lookin's at the likes of us. We made a few phone calls, ate sandwiches, an' were soon back on the road.
In the next hundred an' twenty miles we must o' seen sixty to seventy head of deer an' antelope, as well as various herds of cattle an' sheep, not to mention gov'ment missle silos. We saw several nice ranches, but house trailors were most common.
Upon arrival, we checked back into the Heritage Inn, located our stowed gear, then headed to the showers, much to our delight. One by one, we gathered back up at the lounge for drinks an' coffee before meetin' Hank an' Glenn in the restaurant for dinner. We shared lots o' food, lots o' stories, an' lots o' compliments, enjoyin' a really fine evenin'. I slept well, but not a wink better 'an the previous five nights.
June 20, 1999
We took our time stirrin' out, an' then had breakfast in the Hotel eatery. Several were up an' fed an' ready to head back to the Lewis an' Clark Interpretive Center.
Arnold an' I went to Crossroads Memorial Church, there at the Hotel. I remember one part of the service most...the children's sermon. The young man givin' it told the little ones, "children should obey their fathers an' fathers...should obey God." Amen!
Afterwards, we finished packin' an' 'bout noon we headed to the Great Falls Airport. Jim, a true porter an' Art Carney look alike, droves us. We'd plenty of time for gift buyin', eatin' an' such, b'fore our two- twenty flight to Minnesota. We were delayed (again) at MPLS/ST PAUL an' had to changed gates twice, but were finally underway in route to Louisville.
Flyin' out o' Great Falls, I looked about our group, bein' scattered over the plane, an' a real feelin' of comradery swept over me. You're just bound to gain a closeness, havin' gone through an experience together, like this one. I had developed a real love an' appreciation for each individual with their gifts an' talents...as well as their weaknesses...an' we all had 'em. We'd another 'adventure' in the books an' I was already lookin' forward to the next one. Until then....
By the way, thanks to Jack, our local paper did quite a spread on our little 'adventure'. See THE NEWS-ENTERPRISE, LIFESTYLES SECTION, of the Sunday, June 27,1999 edition. An' thanks to Jess, we've gone GLOBAL, at jscott.tierranet.com /Woodspoint /Missouri River Trip
is dead my Friend
But writers hold the seed
And what they saw
Will live and grow
Again to those that read
C.M. Russell, 1917
"Bullwhacker Boots" By Joan