We, the explorers

31.7.2011

 

After a month spent in Canada we went back to the US. The border crossing was much easier than going into Canada. In fact it was perhaps the smoothest US border crossing ever for me.

Coming back to the US we had to adjust a couple of things again such as looking at the outer speedometer circle (miles) and not the inner one with kilometers. Besides, what must be pointed out, life in USA is much cheaper than in Canada. The gasoline price difference is 20-25%. It is true for many other items. The Canadian dollar, the looney, is also 4% more expensive than the green buck. Fortunately one thing remains constant after coming back to the US, i.e. beautiful landscapes. The state of Washington, not to be confused with the US capital of Washington, is famous for its woods, mountains, rivers.

Olympic National Park in the north-western most corner of the US was the choice of our next camping. This park, hosting 8 Indian tribes, is a biosphere reserve as well. Very peculiar thing here are so called rain forests. It may seem strange, since such forests can mostly be seen in the tropics, and not so far away from the equator. Their presence in the temperate climate is possible thanks to abundant rain falls brought by clouds from the Pacific colliding with the high mountain ranges with the towering Mount Olympus. Winters, including the animals hibernation period, take 8 months here! Even now, at the end of July, there is a lot of snow in the upper parts of the park. The moss growing on plants is so ubiquitous that you can hardly tell the north by looking at it. While in the rain forest we fell in love with the cedar trees. Next to Douglas fir, hemlock and sitka spruce these are the most common trees in the park. Their height can reach 60-80 m and they can live up to 1000 years. Since their root system is relatively shallow they are prone to collapsing under strong winds. The local Indians also liked cedar a lot finding several applications for its wood such as construction, canoes, tools, hats or even diapers made of bark.

 

Travelling further south on 101 route we see frequently the road signs with “Lewis and Clark Trail”. Driving through Wyoming and Montana we happened see to similar markings by the road. We have been simply crossing the historical route of the famous expedition of the two men.

Just like in Poland every child learns about the Battle of Grunwald (1410), in the US one of the pillars of history curriculum is the the expedition by Messrs, Lewis and Clark (L&C). It was the first, US government sponsored exploration of the west in search, among others, for the inland water way to the Pacific and then onwards to Asia.

 

The Map of Lewis and Clark Expedition

lewis-and-clark-trail-map_thumb[3]

 

I was always fascinated by the furthest places on the map. One such place is Cape Disappointment on the Pacific, where L&C got after 18 months and 4000 miles of journey. Visting Fort Clatsop, on the other side of the Columbia River on the Pacific, we felt some bond with those brave explorers. It is here where they spent the winter of 1805-1806 before heading back east. We have covered over 5000 miles already and crossed several times the Lewis and Clark trail. When they were embarking on their journey a lot of its territory was not part of the US yet, making it a foreign trip.

During that expedition new animal and plant species were documented meticulously. A new, more detailed map of the territory was also drawn. Though the main goal of the mission was not achieved, it played a significant role in the territorial expansion of the US.

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  1. Steve Garrett pisze:

    Hello to our inspiring Polish family. Best of luck on the rest of the journey! We talked briefly at the lake in Florence Oregon, while the kids played with salamanders. We are the Canadian family with two small girls. We will follow the blog, so motivating!

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