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Find out more about the Lewis and Clark Trail

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Following the Perilous Journey of Lewis and Clark


Getting some last minute advice from Jefferson before heading off
The word came from on high: "You are to find your way to the Pacific Ocean." These were President Thomas Jefferson's orders to Meriweather Lewis in 1800. They were also my orders from Jeff, head honcho at the Odyssey almost 200 years later. Just as Lewis had set off with his trusty partner, William Clark, to find a water route to the Pacific, my trusty partner Irene and I were headed out West to follow along the same trail.

The St. Louis arch
October 10, 2000
The first day of our journey.

We started this morning in St. Louis, Missouri, the "Gateway to the West." Not far from here was Camp Wood, where the Lewis and Clark expedition started.

Captain Meriwether Lewis took classes in medicine, botany and zoology to get ready for the trip. He studied maps and journals of fur traders who had been up the Missouri River. He tried to learn everything he could for his journey out West.

In 1803 the United States bought a huge amount of land from France - the Louisiana Purchase. The Louisiana Purchase doubled the size of the U.S. President Jefferson wanted to learn more about this land.

Lewis selected William Clark to be his co-captain for the expedition. Clark was an expert watersman and mapmaker.

Luckily, Irene and I never had to carry our car through rough conditions
Good ol' Lewis and Clark had tons and tons of equipment (and people to carry it all), food, and trade goods piled up in their keelboat and two canoes. It was enough to fill 3 moving vans.

We are traveling with enough supplies to fill one dark blue car named Turkey. We have our tent, sleeping bags and food (mostly mac 'n cheese and carrot sticks).

Tonight we are camping in Independence, MO.

October 13, 2000

We're in Billings, Montana right now. We've cheated a bit and gone off the original trail, which took Lewis and Clark up to North Dakota. It was in North Dakota that they built Fort Mandan and spent the winter.

Sacagawea: an important member of the team
It was around this time that they hired a French guy named Toussaint Charbonneau and his Shosone wife, Sacagawea as interpreters.

The two-lane road to our campground is dark and while Lewis wanted to find new animals, I am terrified of hitting one with our car. We stop twice to ask where we can camp and get the same response both times.

"Camping?! Where are you from?!"

We head back toward town and finally get real directions to the campground.

October 14, 2000

We wake up in the morning to a lot of frost on the ground and our tent. We get ready to go to the river where Lewis and Clark canoed. After putting on many layers of clothes and packing the car we are warm, almost.

Canoeing on the Missouri
We are on the river in our canoe! It is roughly a 4-hour, 18-mile journey to Fort Benton. Being on the water is beautiful and relaxing. We start thanking our lucky stars that we only have to pretend to be Lewis and Clark for a short time. We (or rather our arms) can't imagine months and months of this canoeing thing with bad weather, mosquitoes, and sickness.

October 15, 2000

Lolo is lovely!
After spending the night in Missoula, MT, we are ready to continue our travels into Idaho. It is another beautiful day and we are excited to be traveling on the Lolo Trail. The mountains are covered in green-, and red-, and yellow- frosted trees. When Lewis and Clark came through here all they saw was white... snow and ice covered these mountains. Luckily, a Shosone chief named Cameahwait gave them horses and guides. Cameahwait was Sacagawea's brother!

Lewis and Clark and Sacagawea
October 16, 2000

The drive today is fabulous. We are traveling along the Columbia River in Oregon and the scenery is breathtaking. We stop at the Horsetail and Multonomah Falls to enjoy even more natural beauty. We are getting excited to see the Pacific.

Ah, yeah... it's the Columbia!
October 17, 2000

Lewis and Clark traveled over 18 months and 4,142 miles of rivers and mountains to make it to the Pacific. They found 178 new plants and new animals and encountered about 50 Native American groups.

Neda and Irene completed 9 days of highway driving, passing beautiful scenery, a few cities, and some Native American reservations.

October 18, 2000

Excited to have made it to the end of the trail
"Ocian in view. O! The joy!" The words of William Clark (he was not the best speller!) sum up our emotions perfectly. We are in Seaside, Oregon at the end of the Lewis and Clark Trail. Despite the fact that I have seen the ocean hundreds of times before, there is a special feeling to it this time.


Please email me at: neda@ustrek.org


Links to Other Dispatches

Irene - There's GOLD in them there hills!
Kevin - Oh say can you sing a 186 year old song?