Our Lewis and Clark Journal – Day 12
Day 12: Up the Missouri: Celebrating Pioneers, Peace and Independence (August 7)
Yesterday we walked North towards Rocheport on the KATY Trail. This morning we took a short detour South about a mile and a half to glory in this magnificent tree, nearly 370 years old. It has been struck by lightning multiple time, and was vandalized a decade and a half ago by a student who painted “PROM” on its side – writing which endures to this day. It stands all alone beside the KATY Trail; appeared on our GPS as “Big Oak Tree.” Certainly is stood here when Lewis and Seaman walked this way, the rest of the men dragging the boats up the river. Notice the tiny figures of Noelle and August at the base.
As we say goodbye to Catfish Katy’s and continue to follow the path of Lewis and Clark up Missouri river, we plan to travel as many smaller highways as we can, rather than take the Interstates, with the goal of staying in sight of the river as much as we can. We have said we are willing to stop and see anything that interests us: Lewis and Clark sites, of course, but also to take time tasting local foods and partaking in local culture. For example, we stopped for lunch in Independence, MO for some genuine Kansas City BBQ. My friend Cari suggested Gates BBQ, and it didn’t disappoint. We ordered a pile of ribs, pork and beef sandwiches, and a pumpkin pie. (We had to take the pie with us, to eat on the road).
Shortly afterward we were at a Kansas City overlook where we found the largest statue of the expedition we will see on this trip. Here are all of our favorites. Lewis and Clark investigate the path of the river as it snakes across the landscape (that is Clark’s Philadelphia-made compass on the right side of the photo below). York and Seaman walk together, ever the hunters. Sacagawea carries in her hand some of the roots on which the Corp survived, and other signs of her contributions, as well as bearing her infant child on her back. In the photo, August is pretending to be little Jean-Baptise (Pomp), riding on her back.
Our next stop was Atchison, Kansas, on the West side of the river, home of Amelia Earhart, “the world’s most famous aviatrix.” Earhart was a pioneer of another sort, becoming the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean in 1932. She disappeared in 1937 attempting to fly around the world.
Atchison boasts a memorial to air and space exploration which is also a memorial to world peace. It is a “International Forest of Friendship.” The Forest is comprised of trees from trees donated from every state and from an impressive array of countries. This is the tree from New York.
I was disappointed to discover that there is no tree from Cuba. Southeast of San Antonio de los Banos, Cuba is a similar forest, the Bosque Martiano, collecting indiginous trees from across the island that are mentioned in the writings of Jose Marti, poet of Cuban revolutionary independence and natural beauty, author of the words to Guantanamera. When we get home from this trip, I would like to see if we could arrange a contribution of a Cuban naranja tree to the IFF from the curator of the Bosque.
The centerpiece of the International Forest of Friendship is a sycamore tree grown from a seed that was carried to the moon by astronaut Stuart Roosa as a tribute to his time in the U.S. Forest Service. Shown below, it is popularly known as the moon tree. (Who knew trees would become the theme of this day?!) Pretty cool.
Lewis and Clark camped just north of present day Atchison on July 4, 1804. They named two waterways in celebration. The first the called “Fourth of July Creek,” an obviously forgettable name. The other they named Independence Creek. The Corp fired their cannon in the morning, and again in the evening, and everyone was given an extra gill (4 ounces) of bourbon, a gill being the daily ration for everyone. We read from their jounrals, and celebrated with four ounces of “Evan Williams – Kentucky Bourbon since 1783”.
This area was also the Capitol of the Canzes tribe which dominated the KS-MO region, though they were out hunting buffalo when the Corp passed here. But there was plenty of evidence of native habitation. Below, on the banks of Independence Creek, August is stepping out from a Canzes (Kansas) timber lodge that was covered in sod obviously plentiful in the region.
We crossed back to the eastern shore of the river to camp at the Lewis and Clark State Park in Weston, MO. The park sits on a small lake that Clark described as having such “great quantity of fowl” that they called it Gosling lake. The geese are still here, where we concluded our day with a great sunset.
Read: Lewis and Clark for Kids: Their Journey of Discovery with 21 Activities, by Janis Herbert.