Thursday, October 20, 2011

Father and son Western history adventure

I've always been fascinated by the history of Montana.  I suppose part of my interest comes from the fact that I had many ancestors, including my grandparents, that homesteaded there more than a century ago.  Over the years I've read just about anything I could get my hands on that would give me a glimpse into Montana's past.  I discovered writers like James Willard Schultz (who lived the life of a Blackfeet Indian), Charles Marion Russell (who was a real cowboy), and others like Con Price, Frank Linderman, George Bird Grinnell, and Will James--all who lived in or contributed to the history of Montana.  After I read the Journals of Lewis and Clark, i spent six days canoeing along their path on the Missouri River.

About 25 years ago when my oldest son was about to become an adult, I invited him on a canoeing/fishing/history adventure.  I wanted to share some of my knowledge gleaned from all my studies.  We started out attending a historical reenactment of a mountain man rendezvous in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming.  We spent three nights sleeping in a tipi dressed as French voyageurs, fired black powder Hawken rifles, and threw tomahawks at a log target.  Next we visited the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming, the Charlie Russell Museum in Great Falls, Montana, the Blackfeet Indian Museum in Browning, Montana, and the Montana State Historical Museum in Helena, Montana.

We spent a couple of days each in Yellowstone and Glacier national parks visiting the sights and photographing wildlife.  We went canoeing and fishing on Two Medicine Lake on the Blackfeet Reservation, we floated and fished the Snake River Oxbow Bend in the Grand Tetons, and we canoed and fished Lewis Lake in Yellowstone.  I think it was one of the neatest trips either of us had ever experienced, and I know it created a  bond stronger than had existed before.  My son doesn't know it, but I am very happy and proud to know he has shared portions of that trip many times with his own family.

If I wasn't so darned old I think I'd try to do it all over three more times with each on my grandsons.  I still love visiting the that "Last Best Place."

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