Sunday, July 17, 2011

Day 22 Sunday, July 17, 2011

Red Wing, Minnesota to Friendship, Wisconsin
Miles Traveled Today: 200.5
Total Miles: 6764.9

We are home again. A quick 200 miler in some very humid, hot weather, and we are safe and sound (well almost).
Corps of Discovery II (2011)
A retrospective

So... what was this all about? Well, unlike the original Corps of Discovery, we did not acomplish anything that will make the history books, nor would we ever put ourselves in such a category. What we set out to do was to take a challenging, eventful, educational, and fun trip. We had it all, both good and bad. We were able to follow most of the trail that Lewis and Clark covered, albeit on roads, not the rivers themselves. Our goal was to visit many of the sites they had reached and learn more than we already knew about the people who made up the Corps, the peoples they met, the animals and plants they saw, and the natural wonders that make up our country. Mission accomplished.

The goal of this blog was to share our experience with anyone who wanted to follow. It was meant mostly as entertainment, but it does become a nice piece for us to keep as a photographic journal. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we enjoyed our trip.

We would like to thank a number of people, and probably we will forget someone, but here goes. First of all, a huge thank you to Fund for Teachers. Being a recipient of that grant was a great honor for us, and we tried very hard to inform people about it, especially the many teachers we encountered along the way. Again, for those of you who do not know, this is privately funded, and not a "vacation on the taxpayer," as we heard occasionally.

A second huge thank you goes to the staff and students of Grand Marsh Elementary. Without their dedication and hard work, we would not have been a school of recognition two years in a row, and therefore not eligible for the grant.

Next we would like to thank all those family and friends who watched over our homes, children, pets, and whatever else. This allowed us to be gone for a very long time, and we appreciate all you did in our absence.

Finally, and this is from the bottom of our hearts. Thank you to Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery, along with all the soldiers, then and now, who have always gone beyond the call of duty to insure our freedoms. Without the freedom and independence that we enjoy, there is no way we could have made this vast journey without a care in the world. That is how safe we feel every day when we hit the road. All those who have given their lives that we might be free, including Adams-Friendship's own Ryan Larson, we appreciate what you have done for us. God bless our troops! God bless America! Signing off.

Day 21 Saturday, July 16, 2011

Bismarck, North Dakota to Red Wing, Minnesota
Miles Traveled Today: 572.2
Total Miles: 6564.4

It was another day of logging A LOT of miles. We decided to head for Fargo because a storm was rolling in. We stayed ahead of it, reached the Harley dealership, and replaced the gear linkage. Quick, five minute job. The tire can wait until we reach home.

Then it was putting in the time on the road with mid 90s temperature and more humidity than we had known for the past couple of weeks.

The Corps of Discovery, when they realized they were nearing civilization, really pushed to get home. They wanted to see their families and friends. Their journals note how they would push to an extreme limit to make as many miles as posible those last few days. We are feeling the same way. We made a big push, and now it is only a short, couple hundred mile leg to the finish line.

Feelings are paradoxical in nature. Glad to be nearing home. Sad that this journey is near completion. We can only imagine what Lewis, Clark, and the rest of the Corps must have been thinking. All they had discovered, endured, accomplished. What lay ahead for them? How can anything top this?

One must wonder about Lewis in particular. He had been sent by President Jefferson to find a Northwest Passage and found it to be non-existent. In some respects he felt he had failed. However, the job that he and the rest did was simply incredible. It is sad to think that Lewis felt he had failed, and already being depressed, took his own life a short time later. He was the only one not to consider himself a hero.

Clark went on to marry his fiancee, Judith, for whom he named the Judith River. They had a son, Meriwether Lewis Clark, along with other children, and today, eight generations later, there is a long line of descendants living in our country. What a great legacy!

Our last day will bring us home, and then we will continue on with our lives as well. An excitement about the future. A sadness that a wonderful experience is over.

We will make one more journal entry that will wrap up our trip, reflecting on what we did, observed, and thought.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Day 20 Friday, July 15, 2011

Big Timber, Montana to Bismarck, North Dakota
Miles Traveled Today: 512.6
Total Miles: 5992.2

Today was the last day where we actually followed the Lewis and Clark Trail. We were able to see one of the interpretive centers that we desired most. We made it to Pompey's Pillar just outside of Billings about 9:00. This is the only place where there is still actual evidence that Lewis and Clark, in particular Clark, actually were on this expedition. William Clark carved his name and the date into a 200 foot high pillar which he called Pomps Tower, named for Sacagawea's 17 month old son. Later, Clark would actually raise Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, and Pomp, as he was affectionately called by the Corps, went on to be a trapper and mountain man.

The carved out words were originally saved from vandalism by the railroad placing metal grates in front of it. Later this glass case was installed to keep it safe. The next photos are from atop the pillar looking to the east and west.

Lewis and Clark wrote about all the plants and animals they found. One proved to be a beautiful plant when flowering, but a bane to the Corps' existence otherwise. Take a look just behind the sign. They are everywhere out west, and walking on them is extremely painful.

After we left Pompey's Pillar, it was time to log miles. We put on quite a few. We followed the Yellowstone River all the way to Glendive, Montana, and our last view of it reminded us of the terrible tragedy the flooding has caused. An entire huge cottonwood tree, roots and all, must have been eroded off the bank and was floating downstream.

Then at Dickinson, North Dakota, as we were pulling in for gas, Paul's gear linkage broke, just like Jeff's had earlier in the trip. It was wired together temporarily, and will be changed out tomorrow at the Mandan Harley shop. A second problem was noticed. The front tire on Paul's bike was cupping badly, and in an odd pattern, so it may need to be replaced as well, unless there is no risk until we make it home. Guess everyone had to have a problem with his/her steed at some point. Almost made it home with one bike going unscathed, but not quite.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Day 19 Thursday, July 14, 2011

East Glacier, Montana to Big Timber, Montana
Miles Traveled Today: 373.0
Total Miles: 5479.6

Well, we have dodged pheasants in the Dakotas and prairie dogs in Montana. Today we had to dodge Mother Nature. We started out in very cool temps and some wind, and by the time we reached Browning, the wind was really gusting, probably 30-40 mph. We were being buffeted all over the road.

We were taking Hwy. 89 south, and once the wind let up, the clouds showed up, so it was dodge 'em with the raindrops. Sometimes we won, but a couple of times, we were hit by very cold, biting rain. It stings like thouands of little needles on your face.

During one of the lulls, we picked up the Lewis and Clark Trail again, and near the Marias River there is an historic site that mentions Lewis encountering the Blackfeet, and the only military action that ever took place during the expedition. Two Blackfeet were killed, and Lewis and his three companion hightailed it out of there, finally working their way back to the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers, where Clark was waiting patiently for them.

On Hwy. 89, we were between two mountain ranges and in between two cloudbursts. The following video shows what the area was like.

Finally we reached I-90 and the Yellowstone River, picking up Clark's trail just east of Bozeman, Montana. We followed it a short way to the campsite and called it a day.

By the way, the videos from yesterday are now up. Check them out if you like.

Day 18 Wednesday, July 13, 2011

West Glacier, Montana to East Glacier, Montana
Miles Traveled Today: 59.7
Total Miles: 5106.6

Enjoy the pictures of our day at Glacier National Park.
We will upload some video when we have more time or when the Internet connection is faster. The videos even have some music in them, although the wind kind of ruins the stereo sound. Check back on this blog in the next day or two and we will try to have them uploaded here.

Whitewater rafting on the Flathead River was a blast! Madison, our guide, was from Montana and very knowledgeable. When we were finished, she informed us that it was her first trip down the river as a SOLO guide. We had no clue. She was simply outstanding, and she acted like a seasoned veteran.

Glacier was outstanding! As much as we loved Crater Lake, Glacier was even better. Only one downside. Since it was the first day open, everyone was there. 3-4 hours to go 50 miles. Lots of one lane roads beacuse of avalanches. We sat a couple of times for 20 minutes, but the views gave us something to photograph while we waited. A really great day! Heaven on earth.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Day 17 Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Kennewick, Washington to West Glacier, Montana
Miles Traveled Today: 449.7
Total Miles: 5046.9

Obviously, if you look at the mileage, today was another long day on the road, trying to lay some miles down. We left Kenewick about 8:00 and headed up 395 to Spokane, where along the way, DeAnn's headlight failed. We stopped, bought a new one, replaced it, continued on to the other side of Spokane, and after stopping at Harley and Victory, Jeff decided to do the 500 mile oil change on the Victory himself. With that finished a little after noon, we headed over to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho and up 95/2 to Bonner's Ferry. After a late lunch/early dinner, we proceeded on Highway 2, the same highway that runs all the way to Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, all the way to Kalispell and finally to West Glacier. Some great views along the way.

Along the way a few photos were taken, but at 70 it is tough to do. The last two are at the campsite, where we are waiting to explore what many call heaven on earth-Glacier National Park. Rumor has it that the Going to the Sun Road will finally open tomorrow. We hope so. It was to be one of the highlights of the trip.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Day 16 Monday, July 11, 2011

Springfield, Oregon to Kenewick, Washington
Miles Traveled Today: 396.8
Total Miles Traveled: 4597.2

We left Springfield this morning in kind of a downer mood. Having achieved the goal of reaching the Pacific, and then spending time with DeAnn's family in Springfield, it seemed anticlimatic to return home. That's the way it is on a motorcycle. The journey is the excitement, and knowing that this trip will come to an end soon makes it tough to return. To a person, all of us would just assume stay in the Great Northwest for a while, but we all know we have commitments back home.

We were able to again experience the two vastly different climates just over the hill from one another in the Cacade Range. The day started cool and cloudy on the western slope, but as soon as we crossed the pass on OR 126, the temperature increased by 10-15 degrees, the clouds broke, and brilliant sunlight beamed down on us. We picked up OR 97 near Redmond, Oregon, and took it all the way to the Columbia River at Biggs, Oregon.

This was the same location where we switched from the Oregon side to the Washington side on the way west. This time we crossed the bridge again, but were now heading east on 14. We were able to see closeup the types of agriculture that we could only guess at from the other side. There were groves of fruit trees on the sides of the hills surrounded by miles of brown. The green areas were only as large as the irrgation sprinklers were wide. It was amusing to ride for miles and see nothing but brown, and then find just a little patch of green here and there. We saw cherry, hazelnut, and possibly peach trees, along with some corn and wheat fields.

Today was the first long mileage day for Ginny's bike. We took it easy to give it a break-in period. Tomorrow we will change the oil and then push a little harder. She should be good to go. All the other "horses" are running fine. We are very thankful for that.

Nothing really outstanding to photograph today, so it is basically just a journal entry. We are hopeful to find some interesting scenes and/or historical sights tomorrow.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Day 15 Sunday, July 10, 2011

Springfield, Oregon
Miles Traveled Today: 0.0
Total Miles: 4201.4

Sometimes it's okay not to act your age. We had a great time at Crater Lake today, which will be obvious after looking at the following photos. DeAnn's Uncle Everett hauled us all the way there, and along the way he showed us a couple of places we would have completely missed had we been on our own.

The first stop was a salmon hatchery where there were fingerlings in one large tank and full sized salmon and trout in another. The salmon were leaping 3-4 feet out of the water trying to get out. They are held there and "milked" for eggs for fertilization later.

Next we stopped at Salt Creek Falls. The pictures tell the story.

As fun as it was to see the fish and hike to the falls, Crater Lake proved to be unbelieveable. First of all, the snow was incredibly deep yet.

Once we reached the first lookout point, we realized just what an awesome place this was.

Then we became a little more daring. It's a long drop over that edge.

We made it up to the visitor's center, and, of course, childhood took over.

Our aim was true. Everett took one for the team, right in the chest.

Despite the shennanigans, the view was incredible, and we really appreciated the opportunity to see a part of our great country that is second to none.

We were even fortunate enough to see a Clark's Nutcracker, named for William Clark, so despite this trip not being a part of the expedition's trail, at least we had something that was related.

Then it was a long trip back home for a cookout with Everett's (and DeAnn's) family. A truly inspiring day.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Day 14 Saturday, July 9, 2011

Springfield, Oregon
Miles Traveled Today: 11.0
Total Miles: 4201.4

Well, horse-trader Jeff finally found a replacement for Ol' Bessie. Ginny is still trying to find a name for her. She is a 2011 Victory Cross Country. Any suggestions, let us know.

That used up a good portion of the day, so we decided that the rest of the day should be spent taking care of some items in the old bucket list. First of all, actually setting foot in the Pacific Ocean was achieved.

All of us, including DeAnn's Uncle Everett and his two beagles, Brodie and Bentley, had a great time roaming the beaches looking for sand dollars and chasing sea gulls.

After a great seafood dinner at Mo's in Florence, Oregon, we were able to catch the sunset, another item checked off.

A great day, especially since we are back to 4 bikes. Ginny is much relieved. Don't forget to send suggestions for a name for her bike via email or comments.

Got back about 10:30, and we are going to start out early for another bucket list item: Crater Lake.