We crossed the Bitterroots where Lewis and Clark tramped across the ridges looking for friendly tribes of Indians. They need to purchase horses. We entered the Big Sky Country of Montana where we saw miles of hay fields: growing, baled and rolled. We saw this sign which explained the strange ‘things’ in the fields, the beavertail slides.
We just love Charlie Russell. We love his humor and art (we have many of his pictures hanging in our bedroom at home). Helena has been one of our favorite cities. So forgive us if we bore you with “Kid” Russell information.
We found a very nice Elks Lodge to stay at. Tom was challenged to stretch all his electric cords across the parking lot to the Elks lodge, a distance of about 100 feet. He used his 35’ cord off the RV reel, a 15’ 50 amp. extension cord, a 30’ 30 amp. cord, and 25’ 20 amp. cord.
We thought the Elk Crossing sign was a particularly nice touch in front of the Elks Lodge. The only elks we saw were the two legged kind.
We started our day at the Montana Museum of History. This is the most complete story of the history of Montana we have seen. We enjoyed it 30 years ago with the kids and even more now. It was made more meaningful following our visit with Steindorfs as we saw the picture and story of the St Ignacious Mission church and understood the importance of the church to the Native Americans in the 19th century.
We walked across the street to the Capitol Building. We had seen this before, but found something we had not known before. The statue on the top of the building had always been thought to be Lady Liberty, but the sculptor never included the paperwork when the statue was sent from Pennsylvania. At his death his daughter found the paperwork and discovered the name of the statue was “Montana”. The daughter traveled to Helena 4 years ago and presented the original papers to the Historical Society and now the statue is correctly identified as “Montana”, a representation of Liberty.
Business must have been slow or the guard at the Capitol was especially nice because he took us to the Assembly chambers, unlocked the doors and let us take pictures of the spectacular 12’ high Russell painting of Lewis and Clark meeting the Indians. The painting has been restored as had the paintings along the side of the Chamber.
We also went into the Senate and saw the new Bronze piece in front of their chambers. We were told the Senators were not to be outdone by the Assembly’s picture and ordered this Lewis and Clark Bronze.
We decided to drive up to the Gates of the Mountains to take the boat ride. We saw just what Lewis and Clark saw as they sailed, poled, and pulled their way up the Missouri.
We saw Eagles, Osprey, Hawks, Swallows, Deer, but no Mountain Sheep today.
We drove back to Helena to pick up the RV and drove about an hour up to Great Falls where The Charles Russell Museum, house, and studio is. We checked into the Moose Lodge and drove to see what we could see of the Great Falls. We saved the visit to the museums until the next day. Because the Missouri has many dams even at the Falls we will not seeing exactly what Lewis and Clark saw on their Journey. The Great Falls were so foreboding that they had to portage around them delaying their trip by a month as they had to make several trips.
We went to the Museum the next morning and ‘took in’ as much of Charlie, his wife Nancy, and adopted son, Jack, as we could absorb. We bought books on both Russell and Lewis and Clark so learning continues.
Charlie Russell’s Studio (L), and Nancy & Charlie’s House (R).
Then it was on to the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center in the afternoon.
This is from the book, Along the Trail with Lewis and Clark, “Ferrying the canoes and their goods began on June 23 and took eight days. It was such exhausting work that the men fell asleep the moment they paused for rest, but they went at the work cheerfully. According to Clark, “to State the fatigues of the party would take up more of the journal than other notes…”
When rain made the ground too wet and slippery for the carriage on June 29, the men carried what they could on their backs.
On July 4, and in the evening held a party celebrating Independence Day. The last of the spirits were passed around, bacon, bison, beans, and dumpling comprised dinner, and dancing to Cruzatte’s fiddle went on until a rain shower sent the Corps to bed.
AND NOW YOU KNOW ABOUT CACHING THE LEWIS AND CLARK WAY. We just knew we were predisposed to love geo-caching beginning with our keen interest in Lewis and Clark in the 70’s coupled with our techie obsession.
We ended our very full and interesting day at the Giant Springs and the shortest river in the United States, the Roe River (r), 201 feet. The water coming out the these springs is coming out faster than the BP Gulf Oil Leak today. It supplies 1/6 of the water in the Missouri River.
We pulled out from the Moose Lodge yesterday morning and drove to Beach, ND, and stayed last night at the FlyingJ there. Today we are on our way to the Historic Fort Mandan where Lewis and Clark spent their first winter in 1804.
On the Road Again, Caching Places That We’ve Never Been… Thanks for coming along on this very long blog.