Our Lewis and Clark Journal – Day 10
Day 10: We’re Off! Provisioning our RV (August 5)
After free breakfast at the Drury Inn, we stepped outside for a visit to the St. Louis courthouse where the African-American slaves Dred and Harriet Scott sued unsuccessfully for their freedom, paving the way for the Civil War. The courthouse is now part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial; our visit was somber but short, as we needed to be on the road fairly early.
Before leaving the courthouse we made one decision that would prove important for our trip: we bought a National Park’s Passport for August. The Passport s designed to be stamped with “cancellations” at each park visited, and since we will visit literally dozens of national parks, memorials and sites over the next several weeks, this seemed a nice way to record our exploration of the country. I also bought him a Junior Ranger vest and hat, though we didn’t have time to complete the ranger program in St. Louis. Perhaps when we return. The Jefferson Memorial is the first stop on the Lewis and Clark Memorial Trail, so we stamped the passport with today’s date and set out for Eureka, MO to pick up our RV.
We are first time RVers, so we paid close attention to our hour-long orientation. We had watched a DVD about RV operation several times before leaving NY, but our 24 foot “C” class home seems much easier to run than we expected from the video. I am hopeful that this trip will pave the way for future family camping trips. I grew up camping, but Noelle did not. During my first five years my family spent summer weekends in a pop-up camper at the beach. I then took up camping with cub scouts, and in the backyard and summers near Illinois rivers with my grandparents in their RV. I’m feeling very confident.
August has named our RV “West Crasher.” My head spins with the may meaning of this name.
With all of our gear transferred from our car, we took our first trip – to the grocery store. August and I used this time to unpack and organize the camper. Noelle did the shopping. In another two hours we were finally on the road.
We took time to day to read from Lewis and Clark’s journals about their process of provisioning. They were heading out into a country, the size of which they did not know. They did not know how long they would be gone. When they left Lousiville, Lewis and Clark had nine Kentucky backwoodsmen as part of the company, and a keel-boat built in Pittsburg. They loaded it with provisions: guns, powder, and lead for ammunition; whiskey and dried food, particularly a dried pea soup Lewis had grown fond of in the army; gifts for Indians; formal military uniforms and flags; tools; medicine; paper and ink and fabric and canvas … everything they might potentially need for the next few years. When Lewis and Clark arrived in St. Louis and actually saw the Mighty Missouri (with a six mile an hour current, compared to the 3 miles and hour of the Ohio) they got more men, more boats, and more provisions. August actually laughed out loud as we read each days shopping list: more pea soup? more guns? more beads? and more pea soup?
By evening we were fully hooked up in our campsite in Huntsdale, Missouri, right on the shore of the Mighty MO. In fact, we were so close to the water that when August marched out in the dark to find the river it was only my cautious shout of “STOP” that kept him from stepping through a line of tall grass and falling 40 feet straight down into the swiftly moving muddy water. Only days into their journey, Lewis too almost lost his life along this same stretch of river, falling from a cliff and saving himself only with the aid of his knife. (August took the occasion to argue that he ought to be allowed to carry a knife. Ha!)
Not all of the coincidences between their journey and ours will be this exciting.
We did have pea soup for dinner. 🙂
Read: The Journals of Lewis and Clark, Edited by Frank Bergon. Penguin. (I know there are many abridged versions of the journals available. I’m a sucker for Penguin Classics, and will deal with evaluating and reading other versions when I return home. Suggestions and comments are welcome.)