TOUR AMERICA 2022, ROYAL OAKS RV PARK & CAMPGROUND, BEMIDJI, MINNESOTA

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Temperature 69 Degrees, rain than clearing later in the day

Fort Mandan, Washburn ND

This is a post regarding a Fort we went to while in Bismarck, ND. It is associated with the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.

Yesterday’s blog centered around Captains Lewis and Clark and their winter stay at Fort Mandan. Today we’re going to take a look at the replica of that Fort that was completed by the McLean County Historical Society in 1972. It is constructed using the same dimensions and materials as the original.

Unfortunately, the exact location of the original Fort has never been determined. By the time Lewis and Clark passed through on their return journey in 1806, Fort Mandan had burned down. The current Fort gives a view of the river valley where it is believed the original Fort had been built.

Let’s take a tour of the Fort.

We’ve just entered the Fort through the front gate. Standing here you can see the triangular shape of the Fort. Also visible in the center of the courtyard is a swivel gun that could be loaded with a dozen or more musket balls and fired as a last defense. Fortunately, it was never used.

This is a typical soldier’s quarters. Note the rifles and other hunting accessories along the back wall. With over 40 residents, Fort Mandan would have needed a bison or more a day to stay fed, and hunting was known to be poor in this area. Thus, hunting parties would often have to travel 30 or more miles before they would come to a good hunting ground.

Again a soldiers quarters this time with wood working – saws, axes, shaving horse (bench) – tools. Unfortunately, wood was also scarce around the Fort. The area had been so long settled that fire wood could only be found a great distance from the Fort.

Again a soldiers quarters, this time displaying musical instruments, games, drinking and dining utensils. When expedition members had free time, they most often spent it with their neighbors, either hosting them at the Fort or going over to the Mandan town, Mitutanka. A journal entry mentions that the Mandan Nation found the dancing of expedition members most interesting.

This storeroom would be where barrels of survival rations and corn, beans, squash and sunflowers were kept. The expedition also frequently made dried meat here.

This storeroom was were boxes, barrels, bundles and gifts were kept. The storeroom held all kinds of supplies, but especially gifts for Native tribes. Lewis spent more of his supply budget on gifts than anything else. Giving these gifts to the Native tribes was perhaps the single biggest reason the expedition earned approval from them and got to travel safely through.

The quarters of Captain Lewis and Clark. Here Lewis and Clark entertained chiefs from the various tribes. The hoped to form relationships for future trade, to learn about the route ahead, and to persuade at least one chief to accompany them back and meet President Jefferson. One chief did indeed return with them, Chief Sheheke who was also known as White Coyote.

The quarters of Toussaint Charbonneau and his wives Sacagawea and Otter Woman. They were used by Lewis and Clark to interpret and translate Hidatsa and Mandan. Their insistence on having interpreters throughout the expedition is another reason they were so successful.

The blacksmith’s shop. Here the Mandans and Hidatsas gladly traded corn and other food in exchange for tool repairs and custom weapons.

Well, our time at Fort Mandan has come to an end.

The expedition greatly benefited from their time at Fort Mandan. They gained food, talent like Sacagawea, intelligence about the route ahead, and the enjoyment of human company.

I hope our time here was also of benefit for all who took the tour with us. I came away with a new understanding of the conditions that the expedition faced and what it took to make the expedition a success. And any day that I learn something new, I consider it to be a great day. So, the day we spent at the Fort was, indeed, a great day.

Now, about that big guy in the beginning.

He was a Newfoundland.

His name was Seaman and he accompanied Captain Lewis from start to finish. More than once Lewis talked of his attachment to this fine dog. Recent evidence shows that when Lewis died, Seaman spent his remaining days living at his grave site.

Well, so much for our sightseeing in Bismarck. Now, if we could only get the weather here to cooperate with us we’ll go back out again and see what is about. However, so far rain has kept us in. That, and the fact that there have been odds and ends that needed doing around the rig. Such as a leak in the bathroom from the ceiling. Ms. Barbara found that one the hard way! Tomorrow, no matter what I have declared that we are going out. Wish me well.

Thanks again for spending some time with us.  It’s always great to be able to share our story with family and friends. Comments? Feel free to share them with me. And always remember, cherish every moment of every day that God gives you and live those moments to the fullest.

Our continuing mission remains the same: to explore as many new states as possible, to seek out new acquaintances and make new friends, to boldly go where we have not been before.

TOUR AMERICA 2022, ROYAL OAKS RV PARK & CAMPGROUND, BEMIDJI, MINNESOTA

Friday, June 24, 2022

Temperature 81 Degrees, Thunderstorms then clearing late in the day

Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, Washburn, ND

This is a post regarding a museum we went to while in Bismarck, ND.

Our introduction to Lewis and Clark was at the Missouri River Basin in Nebraska City while we were staying at Victorian Acres RV Park.

Thus, one of the places we wanted to visit while in Bismarck was the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center.  We wanted to learn more about their expedition and where they spent their first winter.

Before you even enter the Center, you encounter this impressive statue of Captain Lewis and Clark, and Chief Sheheke.  This is the Mandan chief the Captains met when they stopped for the winter, the same chief who declared that If we eat you shall eat, if we starve, you must starve also. With these words Lewis and Clark found hope that they and the men with them would be sustained through a long, cold winter yet to come.

You’ll remember that the expedition was commissioned by President Jefferson who had

a clear and immediate need to send an expedition out to explore the uncharted wilderness of the west.

Thus, in 1804 a team of men led by Captain Lewis and Clark set off from the St. Charles, Missouri area on a voyage into the unknown.  Their journey west – up the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean – made them the first Americans to document overland travel to the Pacific.

I found this very interesting. Especially the last sentence of the last picture. I wonder if the Native American Indians who accepted them would agree. Or if they even knew what their acceptance of the medals meant.

Another interesting fact that I uncovered.  One of the myths that was popularized over the years was that Lewis and Clark were always clad in buckskin garments.  The truth, however, is that this was first and foremost a military operation from start to finish.  Jefferson believed that only soldiers possessed the teamwork, discipline and training appropriate for such a difficult mission.  And since it was a military expedition, the soldiers were expected to wear military uniforms at all times.

And so the journey began.

Soon winter set in and they needed to stop.  And needed to find a suitable location to do so. Did you catch that last little bit about the winter temperature? Goodness, I wonder how many blankets one would need for that low a temperature.

On this map you can see the believed site of Fort Mandan and the location of the various Native American villages.

This is what we learned abut the two tribes that The Corps of Discovery spent the winter with.

A bit of history about their fort, why its location was chosen and the advantages of its location to Lewis and Clark.

Though the winter was long and cold, there were important developments made during this winter lay-over.  

During their time at the fort, they also prepared a mid-journey shipment to President Jefferson containing word of their progress, first journals, and notes about plant, animal and mineral specimens.

In April of 1805 ten of the original members of the expedition left Fort Mandan in the keel boat to take the Fort Mandan Miscellany back to St. Louis and then on to President Jefferson.

While at Fort Mandan Sacagawea first comes into the picture. Her life is shrouded in uncertainty; she was only briefly mentioned in the journals.  Here is what we do know about her:

She was an American Indian mother who accompanied Lewis and Clark to the Pacific Ocean and then back to the Knife River Villages.

She was at times an interpreter but never a guide

She worked to assure other Indians that they met that the expedition came in peace.

Contrary to popular myth she and William Clark never had a love affair

Time, now, to head west again.

There were formidable challenges and daunting obstacles along the way.

Finally, they met the Shoshone who alone could provide them with the horses that they needed to go further. Had they not met them in all likelihood they would have never been able to complete their journey.

The Pacific Ocean!  Or was it.  It turned out to be only the estuary of the Columbia River – they still had 20 miles to go.

Their next winter was spent on the Pacific coast.  There on a slight rise along the bank of a small river they cleared land and build their next fort which they called Fort Clatsop, named after the local Clatsop Indians.

Rain, rain go away. Oh, after today I can well understand how they must have felt with so much rain.

Finally, the time had come to turn around and head back home.

Once again on the journey home they had to face formidable challenges and daunting obstacles along the way. More, many more than I have the time and space to share.

Given up for dead, they surprised everyone when they finally made it back home.

This, I believe says it all.

Now, what I’ve been able to share in this blog is but a part of what was on exhibit at the Center.  It was one of the best museums that we’ve been to so far.  All exhibits were first class with a clear explanation for everything.  A big round of applause for the curator of this museum who obviously knows their stuff.  Want to know more about Lewis and Clark?  If you are in this region of the country make sure you stop here.  You will not regret it.     

Thanks again for spending some time with us.  It’s always great to be able to share our story with family and friends. Comments? Feel free to share them with me. And always remember, cherish every moment of every day that God gives you and live those moments to the fullest.

Our continuing mission remains the same: to explore as many new states as possible, to seek out new acquaintances and make new friends, to boldly go where we have not been before.

TOUR AMERICA 2022, ROYAL OAKS RV PARK & CAMPGROUND, BEMIDJI, MINNESOTA

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Temperature 91 Degrees, Abundant Sunshine

Blood Tests, Shopping, and Sightseeing

Today was a day to get out and about. We had several errands to run and we also wanted to do some sightseeing in the city of Bemidji.

The city is only about 15 minutes from our site. Thus, we were there in a jiffy.

This was our first stop. As part of my ongoing treatment for prostate cancer I need to have several blood tests done and an injection every three months. Well, let me tell you getting both of them done while on the road was quite a feat. Thankfully, Ms. Barbara was up to the task. I mean, I would be lost without her. What she first discovered was that there is no Quest or anything like it in the state of Minnesota. She had to go to plan B. She made one phone call after another and finally was able to locate this clinic that would be willing to do the blood tests. The injection comes next week. That too required lots and lots of phone calls.

This was our next stop. My good lady had been looking for an Aldi every since we left Florida. She loves to shop here and finds a number of bargains that helps to keep the food bill a bit lower. Every little bit helps.

Changing gears.

After our shopping trip we went to the Visitor’s Center. It was here that we learned a bit about the city of Bemidji. We learned that it is the first city on the Mississippi. We discovered that the city’s name comes from the native American word for the lake, Bemijigamaag, which means a lake with water (the Mississippi River) flowing through it.

This is the lake from which the name of the town came from. This lake is 6,596 acres in size. It is about 76 feet at its deepest point. Located less than 50 miles downstream from the source of the Mississippi River, it both receives and is drained by the Mississippi River.

Outside the Visitor Center stand Paul Bunyan and Babe The Blue Ox. For years Bemidji has been recognized as the home of Paul and Babe. The Paul Bunyan statue was erected in 1937 and is 18 feet high and weights two and a half tons. Babe was originally built to be mobile and so was first covered with canvas. In 1939 he was finally placed here next to Paul. His horn span is 14 feet and he weights 5 tons. The two figures remain permeant symbols of Bemidji and its colorful past of logging and lumberjacks.

Some special facts about Paul and Babe

Every time Paul sneezed he blew the roof off the bunkhouse

Paul is said to have dug and built Niagara Falls for a shower bath

Paul’s lung power was so great that once he blew too hard and felled twelve acres of jack pine

Babe stamped around so much that his hoof prints filled up with water and made Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes

On wash day the laundry was hung out to dry on Babe’s horns

Babe refused to haul logs unless the road was snow covered, so Paul had to whitewash the roads in summer

Inside the Visitor Center we discovered some left over items of Paul’s

Paul’s stocking cap.

His axe.

Leaving the Visitor Center

we went downtown where we were told we would find various pieces of sculpture on different street corners. And so we did.

The sculptures are part of what is called the Bemidji Sculpture Walk. It began in 1999 and promotes the work of local artists. Each piece is available for sale. The sculpture walk changes annually so what we saw today well probably not be the same this time next year.

That was our day on The Road of Retirement. It was great to get out and learn about, and see some of the region that we find ourselves in. Tomorrow, hopefully we’ll get to see even more.

Thanks again for spending some time with us.  It’s always great to be able to share our story with family and friends. Comments? Feel free to share them with me. And always remember, cherish every moment of every day that God gives you and live those moments to the fullest.

Our continuing mission remains the same: to explore as many new states as possible, to seek out new acquaintances and make new friends, to boldly go where we have not been before.

TOUR AMERICA 2022, ROYAL OAKS RV PARK & CAMPGROUND, BEMIDJI, MINNESOTA

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Temperature 79 Degrees, Abundant Sunshine, Clear Blue Sky

On The Move Again

It’s been wonderful just sitting and relaxing in a beautiful county park. What a wonderful and delightful place this RV park has been. But the time has come to pack up and get on the move again.

Today’s drive time would be only about 3 hours so we were in no rush to leave this morning. We had some coffee and bagels and just sat back and relaxed. Still in all we were on the road by 9:30 am.

The road was in decent condition with some construction here and there. The traffic was light and we only had a few so-called towns to go through. Some were what I would call genuine towns, others were, how can I put it, blink and you missed the two barns, one house and a garage that was falling down. But boy oh boy you best get on the brakes when the speed limit went from 65 mph to 25 mph in less than the blink of an eye.

So we motored along without incident and in no time at all we were at

our new home for the next week where we were greeted by the campground mascot. Sorry, but I just can’t figure out what type of dog this is!

Ms. Barbara went into the office to register and find out what site we had been assigned to.

Here we are, home sweet home for the next 6 nights. We were originally going to stay 7 nights but I have a medical appointment that I need to get to so we’ll be on the move a day early. The site is hard packed dirt and not even close to level. Not to mention that the water spigot for our site is off to the right in the above picture about 10 feet away. I was hoping for something better but I’m beginning to learn that really decent RV parks in this region are few and far between. I will say, though, this park is a work in progress. The electrical grid was just recently updated throughout the whole park. They are putting numerous new sites in the back. Then they’ll start working on redoing the sites in the front, one of which we are in.

Yes, that’s Albert out in the front of our site doing his thing. He immediately locked on to all 3 satellites. A quick call to give DISH our new address and zip code and we were in business. Sometime along the way Albert will be going to the roof. They make a roof mount that gives one the best of both worlds. Once it is in place you can lock the satellite antenna in place on the roof. However, you also have the option of unlocking it and bringing it down just in case you end up in a site were you can’t get a clear view of the southern sky. Once down it again becomes a portable antenna and you can move it where you want. Neat.

So that is where we are at on The Road of Retirement. We’re living large and enjoying life to the fullest. God has blessed us beyond measure and we’re so grateful for the many blessings we enjoy.

Thanks again for spending some time with us.  It’s always great to be able to share our story with family and friends. Comments? Feel free to share them with me. And always remember, cherish every moment of every day that God gives you and live those moments to the fullest.

Our continuing mission remains the same: to explore as many new states as possible, to seek out new acquaintances and make new friends, to boldly go where we have not been before.