The Lewis and Clark Expedition Summary

When the fledgling United States was only 26 years old in 1803, the Mississippi River formed its western boundary. Even though the vast continent beyond the Mississippi was administered by Spain, it was only sparsely inhabited by “Indians,” French and English trappers, and illegal homesteaders. On the Pacific coast a few Spanish missionaries lived among the Indians, and ownership of the region was claimed and disputed by Spain, Britain, and Russia.
Where others saw barren land and conflict, Thomas Jefferson, our nation’s third president, saw opportunity. In what many saw as folly, but history later confirmed was brilliance, Jefferson convinced Congress to purchase the Louisiana Territory for 3 cents an acre, thereby doubling the size of the United States.

In 1803 Jefferson selected Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to lead an army expedition of 30 men to explore this new land. His instructions to Lewis stated:”The object of your mission is to explore the Missouri river, & such principal stream of it, as, by its course & communication with the waters of the Pacific Ocean, may offer the most direct & practicable water communication across this continent, for the purposes of commerce.” Even with the inconsistent spelling and stilted grammar of the times, the instructions are still very clear.

Over the next two years the “Corps of Discovery” travelled 7,000 miles from St. Louis, up the Missouri River, over the Rocky Mountains, down the Columbia River to Astoria, Oregon, and back again. In this epic American exploration of unknown territory, they lived off the land, made maps, acted as ambassadors to curious and mostly friendly Native American tribes, and documented many new species of plants and animals.

By the time of their return in 1806, traders and settlers were already pushing westward into the new territory—a process which in many ways defined the United States for the next 100 years. Even today, the phrase “Go west, young man,” still rings with adventure and opportunity.

Over the next week, I will be traveling along a small portion of their journey. I will be highlighting portions of their journal from their return trip in 1806, highlighting local history of some of the towns I will be traveling through, and of course sharing about my experiences on the bike. I hope you enjoy!

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Only two days until launch day for the tour! This is a training ride I did a few weeks back.

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Announcing Lewis & Clark Part Two!

I’m excited to announce that I will be launching out on a week-long self-contained tour to raise funds for my school, Liberty Christian School of the Tri-Cities! I am leaving from the campus on the last day of school, June 9, and will pedal about 400 miles over the next seven days or so.

Last year, I traveled west along the Columbia River out to the Pacific. This year, I have decided to head in the opposite direction, continuing to follow some of the route of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

My destination is Missoula, Montana. I’m excited to visit the headquarters of the Adventure Cycling Association with whom I have a life membership. I will be sharing my journey on this blog and invite you to follow me here.

Bridge of the Gods

Bridge of the Gods

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The Finish Line

I spent a leisurely time packing up and getting breakfast. Then I headed through the downtown section of Astoria, which is dominated by the bridge crossing the Columbia. 

  I had to take a detour because the bridge I was planning on going over, the Lewis and Clark Bridge, is closed for construction. So I went west over the Hwy 101 bridge, then backtracked to Fort Clatsop, where the Lewis and Clark Expedition finished their westward exploration and spent four months of the winter of 1805-06. 

The reason they ended up at this location was after some days of miserable weather while camping on the north shore, they voted on where to settle in for the winter, and the Oregon side won out. It was democracy in action for a pivotal decision, and even Sacagewea cast a vote.

The month of December was spent on the site and building the fort, where they stayed through March. The replica fort I visited was built in 2006, after the former replica burned the year before. I toured the visitors center, the fort, and the canoe landing.

   

  

 I took a video right outside the entrance to the park because I was struck by the sounds of the birds and little else: 

 I then pedaled down to the south end of the town of Seaside, about 14 miles, to visit the “Salt Works.” Three of the men were tasked to stay at the shore and boil seawater to evaporate it and collect the salt. It was needed for curing and preserving meat for the journey home. They were at it the entire winter, with some of the other men hiking down to provision them and occasionally help.

  
Then it was time to ride over to the beach and finish my journey. I am thankful for this opportunity to ride for my school and bring attention to Christian school education. Liberty Christian School is raising up the next generation with a biblical worldview and excellent academics. It is more vital now than ever that our children are being taught God’s Word and absolute truth in this age of moral relativism. I’m thankful to be part of a school that educates students spiritually, academically, emotionally, socially, and physically- developing the whole child.

  

Thank you to everyone who prayed for my safety along the way, and the strength to enjoy the journey.

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Astoria or Bust! 

When I woke up this morning something was different: it was cloudy and cold! I bundled up and started breaking down camp and realized my rear tire was flat, delaying my start. 

  Once I got on the road (I was shivering!) I realized the cloud coverage was probably moderating the headwind, which was only a gentle 5mph or so. Another little lesson to see the good in every situation! 

  
As the cloud cover burned off, the headwinds progressively increased. I was pedaling by some beautiful wetlands; saw an elk; a pair of Whistling Swans (they are the two white dots in the picture below- they are the largest waterfowl in Oregon with a wingspan of 7 feet); and some beautiful flowers:

   
 

By midday, there was a strong headwind and rolling hills. It was one of those phenomenons on a bike I have encountered on rare occasions: you crest a hill and feel the full force of the wind, so you have to pedal going downhill. You finally start getting out of the wind as you reach the bottom of the hill, only to have to start climbing again. So essentially, you never have a break from pedaling. It’s quite the workout! 

The river really started widening out. I went by huge lumber mills in the area of Longview, WA and had to dodge wood bark all I’ve that road: 

   

I pedaled 64 miles and made it into Astoria by late afternoon. I set up camp at an RV park on the east end of town- they have given me a patch of dry grass to call my own. I was so tired last night that I fell asleep without posting. So I’m catching up before I hit the road on my final day to the Pacific Ocean!

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Lewis and Clark in the Columbia Gorge And Beyond

As I’m pedaling along on my paved roads, hugging the edge of the canyon walls, I can’t help but think of the incredible journey of the Corps of Discovery. They were stuck for four days in the area of The Dalles because the headwinds were so bad. I experienced them for a couple days, but could progress forward. They were subject to nature and natural forces their entire trip. Also, it being late October 1805, it was getting cold. On Oct 29, they left at daylight and the wind were calm enough that they made it around Crates Point and had a great day of progress.

They passed the Hood River, and also the White Salmon River, which they called Canoe Creek, named for the large number of canoes at the village there. They had more views of My Hood. Clark noted that the Indian robes were made of wolf, deer, elk, wildcat, fox, and even one from a mountain goat.

On Oct 30, they had lunch at the Wind River, at the current location of Carson on the WA side, and could “plainly hear the roreing of the grand Schutes below,” though they were still seven miles away. The next day, Clark described the river in the “Great Shute… Is about 1/2 miles with the water of this great River Compressed within the Space of 150 paces..water passing with great velocity and forming and boiling in the most horrible manner.” Nov 1 was spent portaging around the falls at Cascade Locks. On the 2nd they passed Multnomah Falls.

They now entered the calmer waters below the gorge and camped on the north side of Government Island, they named it Diamond Island, and passed what is present-day Portland and Vancouver on the 4th. They had trouble sleeping at night because of the noise of swans, geese, white and black brants, ducks, and Sandhill cranes, with Clark saying, “they were emensely numerous and their noise horrid.”

As the Columbia turned north, the Corps of Discovery experienced thick fog, rain, and more noisy birds. Clark was impressed by the ornately carved canoes used by the tribes in this region: “one of those Canoes is large, and ornamented with Images on the bow & Stern. That in the Bow the likeness of a Bear, and in Stern the picture of a man…”

  
As  the Corps of Discovery neared the mouth of the Columbia, they felt immense joy at the possibility of reaching their final destination. However, the last stretch to the ocean proved extremely difficult. For several days, the Corps was pinned against the shoreline, trying to shelter themselves from strong wind, waves, and rain. Clark noted, “this dismal nitich where we have been confined for 6 days passed, without the possibility of proceeding on, returning to a better situation, or get out to hunt, Scerce of Provisions, and torents of rain poreing on us all the time…”

Finally, the team mad it around Poont Ellice, and established a terminus camp on a “butifull Sand beech” east of the present day town of Chinook.

After traveling over 4,100 miles up the Missouri River, over the Rocky Mountains, and down the Snake and Columbia rivers, the Corps of Discovery finally reached the end of their voyage.

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30 years of education packed into a day!

I slept in a little bit today. It wasn’t hard to do because I was in a BED. Terri got home from work about 9am and we talked it up for a couple hours. Mostly theology and solving the world’s problems. She loves Jesus with all her heart and brings viewpoints from the Christian Left, so our conversations are often iron sharpening iron, but we also find a lot in common. I come away challenged and eager to pursue God’s Word all the more after our talk. I hope she is just as encouraged and challenged. Here she is with her son, Malachi:

  
I guess I got on the road around 11:30am and followed the Columbia for a while, passing floating house communities and the Portland Airport. It was pretty cool having jets taking off right over my shoulder!

   
 

I then crossed southwest past a beautiful rose garden park 

   

 and the university of Portland to the St. John’s Bridge. It was an exciting crossing, as you have to get aggressive and take the right lane over, because there is no shoulder. Thankfully the drivers are conscious of bikes and there are “sharerows” painted in the lane.

  
My touring appetite must be kicking in. After breakfast at Terri’s, I ate a banana, then some jerkey, then my usual salami, cheese and crackers, and by early afternoon, I was hungry again. So I stopped at a sandwich shop and they asked me about my ride and gave me a lunch for the price of my panini sandwich- chips, cookie, and a drink! 

 

As I approached the town of Scappoose, the headwind started up again, and my thermometer was registering triple digits again with the sun’s reflection off the pavement. I pedaled on and found a great little camp spot at the city park in St Helens.

I was able to connect with a former student, Sara, and she came out to visit me at camp with her son, Cameron. As best we could figure, she was in 8th grade when I was the principal at Winham St Christian Academy, going back 16+ years ago. I also taught her three older siblings.

  
She brought me a home cooked pork roast over rice with a delicious homemade mango salsa, which I wolfed down. We caught up on our respective families and Cameron had a blast on the playground at the park.

One of the rewards of being in education is the relationships you build with students and their families. Today was a neat day. I am sharing this blog and this Foundation For The Future Tour with my new school family at Liberty Christian School (2014-?); I started my day off with a student and former teacher from Yucaipa Christian School (2000-2014); and I finished my day with a student from Winham Street Christian Academy (1986-2000). I am so thankful for God’s call on my life so many years ago to teach in Christian schools. It’s been a long and evolving journey, but I am so thankful for the relationships made along the way!

For you history buffs, I promise to catch up on my Lewis and Clark journey updates!

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