On the Way East – Day 2, September 20
25 years ago tonight at Madison Square Garden was the best of all the Grateful Dead shows I ever attended. Check it out: 9-20-90.
I crossed much of Montana on I-90. Except Route 1 to Anaconda – a continuation of Route 200 in beauty. I chose historical moments for my trip today. First another beautiful drive to Anaconda. All that remains of the great copper works is the stack. At 585 feet tall, one of the tallest freestanding brick structures in the world. It is so large that you could put the Washington Monument inside it with room to spare.
Sadly all the rest of the smelter works have been razed, and you can’t get near the stack to view it. The interpretive center is built in the size and shape of the footprint, but that doesn’t make up for not being able to stand at the bottom and look up. I learned that Anaconda almost became the capital of Montana after statehood. What the story didn’t say is why it lost out to Helena.
From there I continued across I-90 to Missouri Headwaters State Park. This is where the Madison, Jefferson and Gallatin Rivers converge to make the Missouri. I had lunch along the “new” Missouri downstream of the confluence. It was very hot today and there is little shade in Montana, so I skipped the outdoor interpretive center and went to the point where the Madison and Jefferson come together. The interpretive materials said that Lewis and Clark no doubt stood at this point with Sacagawea and determined this to be the beginning of the Missouri River. Some 2800 miles in length is this river. It would take several months to float a tube down to the gulf. Neat joining of the two rivers – one is blue and the other red as they flow side by side for 100 feet and then merge.
Then I continued east along I-90 with the snow-topped mountains around Yellowstone always on my right and other rugged, not quite so tall mountains on my left. At 75 mph speed limit the highway requires a lot of attention, but not so much that I couldn’t spend a fair amount of time marveling at the glory.
As I travel east, I am moving out of the mountains and into the prairie of the great plains. Not so interesting. . .
Camped tonite at Cooley Reservoir State Park. I checked out all the campgrounds, of which there are five, and chose the only site with any shade in the whole park. Lots of flat grassy EFW (“endless f***ing wilderness” to quote my spouse) behind me, but in front of me to the north is a 1000 acres man-made lake. In summer this place must be unbearable, but tonite there are about 5 parties in this 50 slot campsite.
The world is quiet, but for the occasional honking of the geese, the chuckled quacking of the ducks, the song of the locusts, and the tweets of plovers and some other kind of bird or frog. Not sure. The sun went down in beauty and I am grabbing time to write while waiting for the stars to come out. Because this space is flat and wide open and dark the star spectacle tonite should be wonderful. So I will stay up a while instead of going to bed with the dark so take in the glory of the night sky.
No cell service or WiFi here. Adds to its beauty. Girl Scout songs are running constantly through my head countered by the fact that under current standards we could not bring kids here because there is no cell service, and they want to be connected at all times. So did we. Didn’t we want to call home every day? But we didn’t because it wasn’t possible. I still am concerned with what we are creating when we can’t bring girls out here to witness the glory of the sunset and the glowing lenticular clouds, followed by increasing darkness. The quiet babble of the animals going to sleep, and the slow brilliance of the night sky coming to life.
Sure I feel a little isolated. But what’s wrong with that? Take me out of my comfort zone! How can they learn the value of preserving this if they have never experienced it? Never experienced the utter quiet of a place like this? The experience that the quiet isn’t really quiet when you tune in to the night sounds instead of the internet on your cell phone? The experience of how bright the stars can be once you get away from the city lights?
I paid for a site with electricity so I can go and plug in and charge my stuff, but this lovely treed site doesn’t have it, so in a bit, I’ll walk across the street to the empty pull through with my power strip, laptop, phone and camera battery and charge up. While I sit in my chair and watch the night sky.
660 miles towards Home.
On the Way East, Day 1 – September 19, 2015
I had seen an ad for a Farmer’s Market in Sandpoint on Saturday, and decided to check it out. With 8-10 days of travel before me, I thought having some nice veggies and fruits to eat in the first days would be good. Terrific market, as good as anything in my home court. Stunning fall produce, great apples, interesting and quality crafts. I bought carrots, long radishes, kale, Spartan apples, a hank of hand-dyed merino wool and a selection of handmade soap. Got a lamb kabob for lunch.
I had wonderful conversations with the farmers who grew the lamb, and made the wool and soap. I bought seed garlic from a garlic farmer who had many varieties I hadn’t seen before. So next year we’ll try out Copenhagen Gold, Galiano and Hot Yugoslavian.
Probably the best was meeting and sharing with Coleen of Solstice Farm. She struggles with the same issues as 9 Mile Farm in keeping going in a way that is meaningful to her. Maybe a transcontinental relationship can develop.
As I was leaving the market I saw a woman across the street who had been at Schweitzer. I walked over to her and greeted her as another Rounduper. Turns out she was not. She told me her son was the engineer for the chair lift who fixed the problem for those of us who got stuck up there in the rain and snow when the motor failed. I told her where I was going and she suggested that I take “Route 200,” rather than hopping on the interstate.
I was heading for a state campground in Beavertail, MT, so an off-interstate ride appealed. I’ve crossed a great many beautiful roads in my driving adventures. Route 200 across the mountains of Idaho and Montana might be the most beautiful road I have ever traversed.
Stopped for a picnic at Thompson Falls on the Clark Fork.
There are no longer falls here because the river has been dammed for hydro.
But I crossed the Clark Fork many times in Idaho, Montana and well into Wyoming.
Route 200 led me to the overfilled campground at Beavertail and to the RV park in Bearmouth, MT, where I was able to spend the night. Sounds of the river. Too near the highway until late at night. Too near the railroad (although that didn’t bother me as much). Then there were the helicopters after 3:00 am when all the other traffic had stopped. But for all the distractions, Bearmouth had the flow of the river and beautiful sunset and sunrise.
325 miles towards Home.
Roundup Reunion Day 5 – Farewell Day 09/18
Goodbyes, good friends, good memories. Today dawned raw and rainy. The rain during the night had put out the fires from our Scouts’ Own. Everyone saying goodbye. Those of us driving, standing out in the cold and waving farewell to those boarding busses for the airport in Spokane and the train station in Sandpoint. We also waved goodbye to the great couple who travelled to reunion on their Harley, towing a tiny camper behind them. They had travelled 3800 miles from Connecticut to get here.
Linda and I packed everything into her van to get ourselves to Spokane so I could get my car and head East, and so she could head south to continue her adventure. On the way we wanted to stop one more time at Farragut, and feel the ground beneath our feet.
We pulled into the visitor center to pay the day fee and there was Nathan again. I feel so lucky that we got to see him one more time. Nathan Blackburn is the Assistant Manager at Farragut State Park, and was a great mover to get us late girls a wonderful visit back to our old campground. He is so enthusiastic about us and what we did! While we visited on Farragut day, he took photos and video and made them available to us – on Facebook, email, and even hard copy. Great, great guy whom we spent a while longer talking and sharing with.
We drove through the park again, found a parking space and took a walk among the trees. We were looking for a structure that had been on the site 50 years ago, but we didn’t find it. Nice walk though, with some deer.
When we arrived in Spokane, I picked up my rental, sadly migrated my gear from Linda’s van into the VW Jetta I would spend the next 11 days in, and said a very hard goodbye to my new friend. So, so hard to say goodbye to her. We texted back and forth about our progress for all of the next two weeks. May she visit me in upstate NY on one of her future journeys. A woman of such enthusiasm for life and everything in it.
I spent a sweet night at Guest House Lodges in Sandpoint with dinner at MickDuff’s Brew Pub. Great porter. Good food – American Kobe beef on GF bun with lots of local goodies and great chips. Good organic mesclun salad with porter blue cheese vinaigrette. Check out my TripAdvisor comments if you want more details.
The great people at Guest House Lodges gave me a new key after I checked out because I forgot my washed clothes hanging in the bathroom, and then checked the room before I was able to leave the parking lot and found my refrigerated meds. The manager was so helpful when she brought my things to the lot. I promised myself I would remember her name and now cannot. . .
Things happen. . .
Holly and I parted ways today. She started her return home this morning. I will be heading east on my own. Over the past week we discovered some irreconcilable incompatibility. I decided that it would be best for both of us if we returned home separately. After a lot of weighing and balancing my options and serious discussion with Fritz, we decided that I should rent a car and also drive home. Linda will take me to Spokane tomorrow to pick up the car and I will start home on Saturday.
A lot of farewelling was going on today. It’s hard to say goodbye to people you have hardly met. Letting go of time that has hardly started. I packed carefully and tightly so that all my gear will fit into Linda’s van tomorrow. We plan to make a return visit to Farragut on the way to Spokane to take in the land just a little bit more.
Today is also the day for the auction. Historically, these Roundup reunions have conducted an auction to raise money for the programs and sites where the Roundups were held. The proceeds from this one will help out the Farragut program. Our organizers have set up a Gofundme page to support the park as well. It’s called “Scouts for Farragut State Park.”
There are many things up for auction at both a silent auction and “traditional” auction. I am bidding on some things in the silent auction. During one of the many moves I made between 1969 and 1977, I lost all of my Roundup memorabilia. I am bidding on a few items, so that I will have something to remember with for the next 50 years (LOL). Many fascinating things to share. Everyone was very generous and at the end of the day our group of 228 raised over $12,000 for the park. (I was successful in winning some patches and pins, and am very happy about that.)
In the evening we had our closing ceremony. Outdoors, with small fires burning in portable fire pits. Rain threatened. It was cold. It was too soon to say goodbye. We had a Scouts’ Own. Talked about the week and our memories. The candles for the four directions of Roundupers arriving were extinguished one by one. We sang Taps and held hands in a friendship circle one last time. Our memory week was done. Too soon, too short.
We will have an opportunity to gather again in 2018 in Vermont. How many of us will still be here to make the trip?
Today is really what this reunion is all about: Revisiting the site where 10,000 of us pitched tents, cooked meals over charcoal, conducted massive flag ceremonies, attended forums, demonstrations, arena events which involved us all.
Farragut State Park was a naval training station from 1942 – 1947, after which it was decommissioned. No one really knew what to do with or about it. As I understand it, the feds sold it to Idaho, who then dismantled the buildings and tried to figure out what to do with it. It had just been installed as a state park when we came for the Roundup, so the park is also celebrating its 50th anniversary. It’s a huge place with thousands of acres of open space, waterfront and surrounding mountains. While a few of us have visited there since 1965, most of us have not and are wondering if anything we remember is still there, still as we recall it.
Each of our busses were accompanied by a member of the park service who works at Farragut. We had been told on Monday that but for the Girl Scouts coming to Roundup in 1965, Idaho would not have had a unified state park service, Farragut would not have been developed as a state park, and these rangers would not be working in this lovely Panhandle area. Each of these rangers was intensely grateful for what we girls didn’t even know we had done. They thanked us, as if we had been the movers and shakers, for bringing the Roundup to Idaho and setting up the situation that provided their roles and jobs today. It was intensely moving to talk with these people, who have been studying not only the Girl Scout presence, but the Boy Scout jamboree that followed us and the military installation that preceded us. They welcomed us as primary sources for some of the museum exhibits about our participation. That intense gratitude was so touching and so unexpected. I am still moved by it.
As we drove through the park, I looked out the bus windows and sought anything familiar. I remembered that where we camped there were no trees – just flat. I remembered taking a picture of the only tree I could find. Today most of the area is heavily treed. Look what can happen in just 50 years. We were told that the park service manages the trees now to make room for good growth, harvesting and replanting and thinking about how the tree work should be. Nothing looked familiar.
We stood at the beginning of the trail up to the overlook I fell from. I was carried off that mountain by the MPs, but I don’t remember any of it. The walk is too long to take during our brief bus visit. I would like to climb up there and see if it looks like anywhere I’ve been before.
We visited the Brig, which is now the museum. We had a flag ceremony outside that was designed by the park people.
The Brig was the only permanent building on the site in 1965, and I had visited it fairly regularly. I was the recorder/scribe for my patrol and I filed my news reports for the Roundup newspaper and our hometown newspapers with a publicity person who had her office in the Brig. I vaguely remembered the long hallways with cells on either side. The cells were offices then, but beyond that general remembrance, nothing.
I remembered attending a Forum on Integrity in the grounds in the center of the Brig. It was hosted by the GS National President of those days, Mrs. Holton Price. I don’t remember if I ever knew what her first name was. . .
At the end of the day we filed into the Arena. Hard to believe this is the same space where 10,000 of us gathered for emotional opening and closing events and religious services. The 228 of us in 2015 looked so small. The park rangers had made a recording of a short record we made in 1965 singing Roundup songs. They set up a PA with the CD to play so we could sing with it.
Back in 1965 I had participated in a workshop with Clair Smith, the great Girl Scout song leader for Roundup. A small group of us had spent the better part of a day with her and then we lead singing at an event in the Arena in the daytime. I could not remember the event.
Something propelled me to the stage to lead the songs as they were played on the PA. What a difference engaging with 200 vs many thousands. . . The very last song on the short record is Kumbaya. As Scouts, we often accompanied the lyrics with some gestures and hand movements. I had forgotten that until I started leading the song and the gestures came, unbidden to my hands and body. I added a few and in the middle of the song I had a potent body memory of leading the song at Roundup, standing on the stage.
I was part of the group that led the singing that became that record!
How amazing to be able to remember that!
And we piled back on the busses to return to Schweitzer. And there the bittersweet caught up with me. I had many, many fractured memories of Roundup and of the site at Farragut. After today, I have lost the old fractured memories. They have all been supplanted, overlaid by the memory of today. I see the great fields not bare and flat, but filled with trees. I see the Brig not filled with bustling offices but filled with museum exhibits. The center square not a meeting space, but a simple open space, surrounded by museum walls. The only campsites, the very lovely and well-designed campground that is typical of a state park these days. Not the commissary, not the obstacle course, not the Avenue of Flags, not the demonstration areas. All of that is gone completely now, and only the present remains. Only the memory that I had a memory. Not necessarily bad, but poignant nonetheless.
For those of you who were following the Roundup Reunion trip and noticed that I had fallen off the face of the earth, I am back! For much of my trip I had no cell and / or no or limited WiFi. So I kept writing and kept taking pictures. Then I got home and had some mysterious computer problems. Hopefully all is repaired, photos are uploaded, stories are being written and I will be shortly sharing the rest of my trip to Idaho and back. Thanx for your patience and interest.
We were originally scheduled to choose two of three possible events for today, but the boat ride was cancelled due to some mechanical problems, so we visited two local “attractions” in Sandpoint.
In the morning we went to Parnell Ranch. This is where the Clydesdale breed of horses has been being saved for the past 40 years of so. This had not been one of my choices, since I have been to Budweiser Clydesdale crèches in both New Hampshire and St. Louis. I am so glad to have come here. The family owned farmers are so passionate about the development and continuity of this breed. They so love their horses and their progenitors.
The dad farmer told us what had prompted his father to start saving horses to save the breed. After the advent of motorized transport, “millions” of draft horses were loaded onto trains and taken away to be slaughtered. If it had not been for a few men like Parnell’s dad, we would have no Clydesdales today. They gave us three experiences with the horses.
First up, how they braid the horse’s main and tail when it’s being shown. We saw a lovely mare get braided up while her 4-month old baby, Jack, was taking a nap.
Then we took a ride in a wagon drawn by two of the horses. We got to look at the farm’s two breeding stallions. The younger one was a mighty force, neck arched, nostrils flared, high knee trotting, up and down the fence. Exuberance!
After the wagon ride, we got to spend time with the farmer wife, who is the force behind today’s breeding program. She told us all about the artificial insemination process from collecting semen to inseminating mares to following the pregnancy and attending the birth of the young horse. She also shared the technology of shipping semen to other farms.
These folks are so passionate about the work they are doing, clearly a labor of love. The love shows in every act they take in their work and I am so glad to have been able to share a few hours with them.
In the afternoon we visited the Bird Museum of Aviation and Invention.
While most of us loved this showy collection of the late Dr. Bird’s aircraft, automobiles, inventions and the inventions of his friends and colleagues, I found it an overwhelming muddle. I couldn’t find a focus. Just a jumbled accumulation of machines and pictures.
Dr. Bird was surely a genius of high order and clearly contributed to the good of medicine and mankind, but this place was bizarre. On the other hand the road overlooking the private airstrip, provided the best views of Lake Pendoreille we have seen yet.
In the evening, we received a presentation from the Girl Scout national organization addressing what they are planning to do about volunteer engagement, particularly with alumnae as are most of us old Roundup-ers. The day ended with signing – one old Regional song after another. We are such dinosaurs and we have such beautiful voices.