Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Astoria, OR - Following Lewis & Clark

OK, now we can add another state to our map: Washington. We added Oregon just a few minutes ago (we’re a bit slow - we should have stuck that state square on a month ago.)

Posh Bakery vs Grandma’s Bakery

Today the plan was to explore but first we wanted to have a treat out and coffee and a sweet roll sounded yummy. We found an upscale bakery but, when we got there, we priced the bear claws at $4.00 and coffee at $3.00. Hmmm, $14 for the two of us for a roll and coffee. Well, how about Lindstrom’s down the street. There we found danish and a monstrous variety of donuts, all priced moderately. For $5.36, we got 2 danish, 2 coffees and a long john. Pretty good. Of course, now I sound like my father-in-law. He used to eat at Burger King because he had a 2-1 coupon. He swore that it was pretty good - but only because he equated taste with price. The lower the price, the better the taste. He’s probably in heaven saying ‘I told you so.’

One of the major draws in the Astoria areas is that Lewis & Clark wintered here after they had found their way to the Pacific. The Lewis & Clark National and State Parks are in this area and include 12 separate sites to visit, all of which demonstrate one or more parts of their journey. We won’t get to all of these but plan to get to the most historical. Today we began with Fort Clatsop, the encampment that L&C built on the southern side of the Columbia to spend the winter of 1805, before they headed back to St. Louis.
After a grueling journey across mostly unmapped territory in the Northwest, they reached the Columbia River which would lead them to the Pacific. When they came around Beacon Rock and noticed that there was salt in the river water, Clark wrote in his journal: “Ocian in view! O! the Joy.’ In reality they still had a couple of weeks before the Corps of Discovery would really set sight on the Pacific, but their goal was close. As they neared the Pacific, they huddled in what Clark called ‘Dismal Nitch’ for 5 nights and found a better sight called Station Camp (2 sights we will visit later.) However, neither of these were suitable for a winter encampment and they continued to look. They had heard that there was plentiful game on the south side of the river and that it was out of the incessant wind so they voted and crossed the river. On December 10, 1805, they began to build a fort that they named for the local Indian tribe, the Clatsop. By Christmas Day they were under shelter. Not fancy but warm and sheltered.

Look at this neat hinge - you don’t need to transport fancy metal hinges all the way by canoe across the US. Just a wooden peg in the holes of two pieces of wood.
They remained here from December 7, 1805 to March 23, 1806 when they left to retrace their steps back to St. Louis. During this time, they traded with the Chinook and Clatsop Indians, who Clark described as ‘close deelers and stickle for a verry little.’ They also maintained strict military discipline with sentinels, locking the gate at night, servicing their weapons and regular patrols. Since it rained all but 12 of the 106 days that they spent here and the sun shone for only 6 days, they also dealt with a variety of illnesses: colds, flu, rheumatism, and other ailments. They also spent time repairing their clothing which had rotted, making new clothing from elk hide for the trip back, making and repairing their moccasins (here is a replica moccasin with a replica hole in it. I think the Expeditions’ moccasins were much worse but this is what they wore clear cross the US),
fighting the fleas which infested their bedding, bringing their journals up to date, making salt to preserve their food for the coming journey and hunting for food. They kept busy.

The Visitor Center had lots of good displays about their journey and their winter encampment. I especially liked all the quotes that they displayed from Lewis, Clark, and the other journalists. Obviously, we do not have much remaining from their expedition and any museum needs to have replicas but the journals and the actual words from these men will last forever. The fort itself is a replica of the fort which was built largely from a floor plan with dimensions that Clark drew on the elk hide cover of one of his journals. Here’s what his journals looked like.

Here’s a copy of the 1795 map of America that Lewis and Clark took across the continent. You can see the Puget sound in the upper right, Lakes Michigan and Superior in the center left and the Mississippi River on the right but not much else is what I recognize. Note how empty of terrain and landmarks this map is between the Mississippi River and the Pacific Coast.
Much of what is in this map is what Lewis and Clark added to the interior. Note how much more is filled in up in the Northwest. Puget Sound is in the upper left and the tip of Lake Superior in in the upper right. Note what they’ve filled in: the mountain ranges the rivers, the tributaries, and how much more accurate it is. They took precise measurements all the way to and from the Pacific.
There was also a replica boat that they hollowed out for travel.
On the way home after Fort Clatsop, the Peter Iredale and Fort Stevens, we stopped at Costco. Gotta shop sometime.

Rotisserie Chicken and the E-U-U-W Factor

I really like the flavor of rotisserie chickens - so much better than other chicken. But, there’s always the e-u-u-w factor, the cleaning the fat off the meat factor. Yechh, one task I really don’t like. Every time I get a rotisserie chicken, I clean it and am squinching my face up and muttering ‘e-u-u-w’ to myself under my breath and swear that I’m never going to buy this again. Gary laughs, ‘then why do you buy it?’ Silly man, it’s the taste. Got one today at Costco, cleaned the fat, muttered e-u-u-w and swore that I wasn’t going to buy any more.

But this time - I’m really not going to buy any more. That’s it. Finis. The end. No more.

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