Lewis & Clarke

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Flag of United States  , Montana
Monday, October 8, 2007

Like us, unless you are an American history buff, you've probably never heard of these men. Well, like many times before, we stop in a place for no reason in particular and then find there is so much to learn, so many interesting tangents. It's great fun even if we only scratch the surface. The frustrating part about it is that we can no longer hold these great chunks of information in our heads for any length of time...no matter...to enjoy it at the time is enough. One day in a future game of Trivial Pursuit, a dusty and derelict cerebral compartment will creak open and an otherwise forgotten fact will save the day!
President Jefferson had commissioned the men to find the elusive North West passage, to find the link between the Atlantic and the Pacific. In addition - "Contact and negotiations with native tribes, the reconnaissance of suitable sites for trading posts and forts, and scientific accounts of the land's plants, animals, and scenic resources were all in keeping with Jefferson's hopes for the expedition."  
On their epic journey upstream on the Missouri, they had traveled thousands of miles by the time they reached Great Falls and it was here that these great explorers realized that they could go longer travel by river.
We walked along one of the trails beside that river, a part where it is still as they would have found it, .dry, barren and strewn with stones and sharp cacti. To stand high on the bluff above the river, in the sunny silence, to try to imagine what it must have been like was almost impossible.
Even standing below the Great Falls themselves it was hard to conceive how their hearts must have sank, the natives had told them of the thundering falls, but they had no idea that there were a series that would take them weeks to portage.
As great as their achievement was, it heralded the opening of the northwest and one cannot help but be touched by the poignancy of the situation: it was both a beginning and an end.


Anyway, enough of the history, you can find out more if wish using this link http://lewisandclark.state.mt.us/ which is relevant to Montana - and you can actually buy copies of their journals, how neat is that?
One thing that has impressed us on our travels is the quality of the exhibits in these "interpretive centres" and the dedication of the staff. Nothing is too much trouble, not only are they knowledgeable but they seem to enjoy imparting it! Many have volunteers or "docents" - one lady we met here, who was well into her 70's has traveled to every state including Alaska and is off to Antarctica in a few weeks! Such vigor!
We had a great day, feeding our minds in the centre and our souls along the river.
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