Dear Friend of CHARIAD:
I am just back from two weeks retracing much of Lewis and Clarks Voyage of Discovery starting in Bismarck, North Dakota, and ending by standing in the Pacific Ocean at the mouth of the Columbia River.
I hope you remember that Pres. Thomas Jefferson had just completed the purchase of the Louisiana Territory – the unknown land west of the Mississippi River starting in New Orleans and going to the head waters of the Mississippi and its tributaries including the Missouri River – 1805. Jefferson commissioned Lewis and Clark and 32 US Army soldiers to go up the Missouri River and find the connection from the head of the Missouri to the head waters of the Columbia River that could be a path, mostly by water, from the Mississippi to the Pacific Ocean. No one knew about the Rocky Mountains at the time.
I had not been to the Northern Plains states or been on the ground in the Rockies. Following the Lewis and Clark trail was a way for me to connect with this incredible part of American history and to get to know that part of the country.
While underway, I sent back four short reports to a few friends. I will forward those emails to you over the next couple of days. These were written on my cell phone so don’t look for great prose. But there are some fun photographs from the trail. Oil fields of North Dakota, vast prairies of Montana, the Bitterroot Mountains and the vast Columbia River. From a US Easterner’s perspective, the vastness and sweep of the land and mountains is beyond expectations.
Leaving St, Louis
L & C left St. Louis – the last American outpost – and went up the Missouri to what is now Bismarck, ND, where they spent the first winter with the Mandan Indians. Whenever possible they sailed up the Missouri. Always a sailing angle.
The vast herds of buffalo are now gone from the plains. I did see some but did not ride out after them on horseback with my bow and arrow as the Plains Indians did.
I pledged to stand in the Pacific at the end of my voyage. I did that at the same place where the Corps of Discover first touch the waters of the Pacific.
I took photographs of what I saw – with a real camera – and plan over the next couple of weeks to put a number of them together as a record of the voyage. No plans are in place, but I will try to show some of the photos at a Friends of CHARIAD gathering. There is talk of doing another Lobster Boil and that might be a fun time for a more complete tour.
For two weeks before starting the trip, I was frantic getting ready to leave. I would be away for three weeks – two weeks on the trail and one week in CA at a medical technology industry conference where I was speaking. I had to be ready for cold days in Montana, a suite and tie in San Diego and sounding like I have something intelligent to say when I get to SD. What about my plants???
7:45 AM – I have just sat down in my seat on the plane flying to Minneapolis for the first leg of the trip. After the last two weeks including a three day racing regatta the previous Fri, Sat and Sun, I am ready for a drink – forget about the sun over the yard arm. The doors are about to close when an official from the airline rushes down the aisle and asks if I am Richard Williams. “Yes I am.” – What did I do now? – “We found your wallet in the men’s room.” He hands the wallet to me and runs off.
I had not been in the men’s room. My wallet is sitting in my hands. The door to the plane is closed.
I look in the wallet. No cash but my credit cards and license are there. I had bought a paper before getting on the plane – OK give me a little slack for not cutting the world off immediately. I probable left the wallet at the newspaper vender or it dropped out of my pocket at that point.
As the plane is taking off over Boston Harbor, I start asking what I would have done if I had gotten to the little airport in North Dakota and found that I have no cash, no credit card and no driver’s license. The voyage would have started in a very different way.
Glad to be home. Looking forward to catching up with you.