Our Homeward Bound Journey


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Article I wrote for the Tri-City Herald newspaper.

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Our Homeward Bound Journey

  1. 1. Tri-City Herald: Local http://www.tri-cityherald.com/tch/local/v-printer/story/7560699p-74... Visit the Tri-City Herald Our homeward bound journey This story was published Friday, March 24th, 2006 By Nathan Isaacs, Herald staff writer ASTORIA -- Jeff Sindelar sat by a smoldering campfire, stitching himself a new possibles bag from which hell hope to remedy any desire over the course of the next few thousand miles. Across the fire, David Cain and Mike Bowman pulled their draw knives across cedar planks that each was carving into a paddle. Alec Weltsien sat nearby, stitching together buckskin moccasins. At Camp Lewis and Clark, near the northwest tip of Oregon, everyone had a job preparing for a journey that will take the group re-enacting the expedition of 200 years ago home. They will travel from the camp on the Pacific Ocean, up the Columbia River, past the Tri-Cities and eventually to St. Louis in late September. On Thursday, the Discovery Expedition of St. Charles, Mo., the official re-enactors for the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial, set off on their trip on the anniversary of what Capt. William Clark called in his March 23 journal entry, "our homeward bound journey." Clark added: "At this place we had wintered and remained from the 7th of Decr. 1805 to this day and have lived as well as we had any right to expect, and we can Say that we were never one day without 3 meals of Some kind a day either pore Elk meat or roots, not withstanding the repeeted fall of rain which had fallen almost constantly." The Corps of Volunteers for Northwest Discovery set off in 1804 from St. Louis to chart the West, meet its people and to find a navigable water route from the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean, if such a fabled waterway existed. The expedition, which was led by Clark and Capt. Meriwether Lewis, trekked by boat, horseback and on foot some 7,000 miles round-trip. Along the way, the group met and traded with dozens of native tribes, documented hundreds of previously undocumented animals and plants, straddled the headwaters of the Missouri River, crossed the Continental Divide, got lost in the Bitterroot Mountains and briefly explored the Mid-Columbia before reaching the Pacific in early November. The St. Charles re-enactors have followed the trail as best they can, camping at the same locations at the same time as the earlier expedition. Along the way, theyve shared the expeditions story and their own with thousands of people. "The first expedition was for exploration, the second was for education," Cain said. The group returned to Astoria earlier this week after spending the winter at home with families, jobs and other modern-day responsibilities. The group has about 188 members from 38 states. Sindelar is from Wildwood and Weltsien is from Dillon, both in Montana. Bowman is from Plattsmouth, Neb., and Cain is from Raytown, Mo. About 32 re-enactors were expected to leave Thursday from Astoria and the newly rebuilt Fort Clatsop, but their numbers will fluctuate as they move along the trail and take time off from work or school. They had set up camp along the Lewis and Clark River, a mile or so south of Fort Clatsop at the Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Park Camp was set up along the forested slopes of the Clatsop Ridge dominated by Sitka spruce as large as 6 feet in diameter and Western hemlock trees. Bald eagles nest in the area and can often be seen perched along the river or in flight. A resident herd of Roosevelt elk is said to reside in the park. Before the departure, the group spent the week practicing paddling skills and testing a new canoe with a design based1 of 2 7/14/07 5:03 PM
  2. 2. Tri-City Herald: Local http://www.tri-cityherald.com/tch/local/v-printer/story/7560699p-74... on the canoes used by the Chinook tribe at the time of the expedition. Peyton "Bud" Clark -- who portrays his great-great-great-grandfather in the re-enactment -- said a black mark for the original expedition was when it stole a Chinook canoe for the return trip home, justifying the act by saying the tribe had earlier taken some elk from them. This time, however, Clark said they had received the tribes permission to build the boat and even had it blessed and named by the tribe during an oceanfront ceremony Tuesday. The boats name is ITs WOOT, which in Chinook means Black Bear. The re-enactors expect to carve about 40 Chinook-designed paddles, which theyll use as they paddle up the Columbia River. They are expected to arrive in the Tri-Cities on April 27 and to camp a couple of nights at Pascos Sacajawea State Park. From there, Clark said the group will walk the Lewis and Clark trail between Wallula and Clarkston, passing Prescott, Waitsburg and Dayton. One of 15 national events commemorating the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial is planned in early June in Lewiston, Idaho. Clark said one of the highlights for the re-enactors has been meeting different people along the trail, including the tribes, and he expects the group to renew friendships made during the first half of the trip. He said the commemorative events, shared stories, potluck dinners and so forth will be the legacy of the bicentennial and a "coming together as an American family." Cain, who has been with the re-enactor group since 1996, said "Its an experience that you cant get by reading a book." He gets goose bumps when he realizes hes in the same spot, on the same day and often doing the same thing or seeing the same thing as expedition members did 200 years earlier. As for Septembers homecoming in St. Louis, he said, this expedition "will stop there, but it wont end." Get the entire Tri-City Herald delivered to you at home - subscribe now. Call 509-586-2138 or 800-750-4967 6 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday 7-12:00 p.m. Saturdays 7-10:30 a.m. Sundays and holidays © 2007 Tri-City Herald, Associated Press & Other Wire Services2 of 2 7/14/07 5:03 PM