When Lewis and Clark finally hit the Pacific Ocean in 1805, they were a bit surprised to see the local Indian tribes wearing some Anglo headgear, like stovetop hats. After 19 months of struggling through the wilderness in search of the Northwest Passage, they learned that they were only the latest in a series of white men who valued what the Indians had to trade.
However, they were the first to come from the East. Their expedition, called the Corps of Discovery, had been chartered by Thomas Jefferson, and had traveled over 4,000 miles to learn what they could about this new land. Others had come from Japan, or further south on the Pacific Coast, and that pattern of commerce was well established.
The Indians were also surprised to see them show up in November. But then, the Indians knew what the weather would be in the winter – and the expedition couldn’t exactly time their arrival.
But the group found what they thought was a favorable spot to built their shelter for the winter, and named it Fort Clatsop, in honor of the local tribe. It is now rebuilt on virtually the same spot, and you can wander to their spring, and walk to the river. (BTW, I am assuming you know all about their Indian guide, Sacagawea, right?)
However, the rumors about weather in the Pacific Northwest must have started then. Of the 106 days they spent there, only 12 were without rain, so imagine the group’s condition by the time they left. We, fortunately, had a lovely sunny day in May, and, even so, there was a cold damp that pervaded the forest.
A pretty area – just not the right time for them to drop in. However, it is amazing to see this spot that represented the culmination of the first study of our continent. Many more came right after, but Lewis and Clark hold a very special place in our history.
We then drove to the lovely town of Astoria, named for John Jacob Astor, who knew a good site for the beaver trade when he found it. Observe the Astoria Column, a graphic depiction of the history of Oregon, sponsored partly by the Astor family. We chose not to ascend, but did get some amazing views of the Columbia River and the Astoria area on what is supposedly an unusually clear day.
Then it was on to Portland, the City of Roses. We went directly to Washington Park, where the Rose Festival starts this weekend. All of the roses weren’t yet blooming, but the Rose Garden was plenty overwhelming regardless. This park is stunning (even the restrooms), and it was good to see a lot of people there taking it all in. And yes, you will have look at more pictures of roses.
(Did you see the view of Mt. Hood?) A lovely introduction to the city, which I only know through “Portlandia.” I will be surveying the locals on their view of the show.