Tuesday, May 12, 2015

View From The Bridge 5/13/15

VIEW from the BRIDGE
By Muncie

Of all the adventurers I have had in Fort Benton, this is now No. 1 in the Top 10. It was Tuesday, May 5th when 9 Visitors Information Center Volunteers and I boarded jet boats for a trip to the White Cliffs. A photo of the group was in last week’s River Press on the last page under the View.

I have talked about the Cliffs at the Visitors Center, I have seen videos, and gazed at the photos hanging in the Center. None of them do justice to actually seeing them and being on the Missouri River that Lewis and Clark traveled over 200 years ago. It is said that they saw the same scenes we were looking at. I kept turning my head from one side to the other and never saw a scene that was the same.

We traveled 28 river miles from river mile marker 41 to 68. River travel is down from 6,034 in 2003 to a count of 4,000 to 5,000 in 2014. Another interesting happening was the 6 MT Conservation Corps young people who are building a fence at the Big Sandy Campgrounds. They waved happily to us as we went by and the other boat stopped to treat them to donuts. The fence is being built to keep out the cattle. They were littering the campground, if you know what I mean. It was the same reason that signs were put up about the dogs at the Old Fort Park during Summer Celebration. (The dogs and cattle do not seem to know where the restrooms are. That was just my sense of humor getting the best of me again.)

We stopped at the Eagle Creek Campground for lunch. We sat on fallen tree logs to eat the lunches we had packed for ourselves. My sandwich was the best I have ever tasted. As I looked around at the river and my surroundings, I remembered how I always wanted to be a nurse. Now I have changed my mind and I want to be a River Ranger.

There were two boats with 5 Information Center Volunteers on each. Our guide was Mark Schaefer who has been with the B.L.M. here in Fort Benton for 15 years. I enjoyed his many captivating stories. On board also was Chelsea Keenan a River Ranger who is from Pennsylvania and has been in Fort Benton for 2 years.

The history lessons were very informative as we floated in the different areas. On the other boat were Dan (the man) DeWitz and Brian Wolf. (I was not able to chat with them because they were in the other boat and I do not know much about them. I’ll make a trip to the M.B.I.C. soon and interrogate their lives. (This is us another joke although I have been told that people do not converse with me because it may end up in the River Press. Honestly, I would never do that and I always ask if I can use their names.)

It was my first trip down the Missouri to the White Cliffs. Years ago Fultz and Arnst had a Van Trip and you viewed the Cliffs from above. It also was a great trip but not as surreal as being on the river.

Oh!  I just remembered that I was on the maiden trip of the Keelboat built by Mike Nottingham. We entered the boat in Fort Benton and went down river as far as Coal Banks Landing.

I urge you to make your next vacation a trip to the White Cliffs. Stories were told about making the trip by canoe. It is certainly a wilderness and you are in awe of Louis and Clark making that trip without a map. They tramped those bluffs, coulees, and rocks. How disappointed they must have been to not find a passage to the Pacific.

The sites we saw were at Eagle Creek the U.S.S. Mandan engraved on a cliff, Citadel Rock, Hole in the Wall, and Dark Butte. There were hundreds of rock formations that we used our imaginations as to what they looked like.

The whole trip took 6 hours. We met at the Missouri Breaks Int. Center at 9:00 and were driven to Coal Banks. Our lunch at Eagle Creek took about an hour. We boarded the boats again at 12:15, continued down river, turned around, returned to Coal Banks, were driven to Fort Benton, and it was 3:00. It was a wonderful appreciation trip for 10 volunteers and we will never forget it or those who took such good care of us.

Karl Bodmer, in 1830, did landscapes of the White Cliffs. You have an opportunity to visit the Old Fort (for no charge,) on and the Starr Gallery of Western Art in the Bourgeois House to see the Bodmer landscapes the evening of May 22nd.

A public presentation by musicians Peter and Molly from Highwood and on The Old Fort History by the Fort Historical Committee will take place at 7:00 p.m. What an opportunity for a family “togetherness” outing. Please take advantage of this occasion as it may not come along again for another year. It is special educational opportunity for the children to learn about Fort Benton. See you there!

I did not have room last week to write about Longhorn Day. What a great job the high school students did. The Levee Walking Trail was cleared of many dead leaves, bushes, and branches. I hope that the Longhorns enjoyed their work as much as we enjoyed seeing what they had accomplished. Go Horns!

I really enjoyed the Fort Benton High School Spring Pops Concert. I told several of the vocalists that they should be on America Has Talent TV show. What a pleasure it was to watch Eric Lenington conduct. I felt as though I was in Carnegie Hall. Kudos to Joellyn Clark for all her volunteering to be an accompanist for the many programs she does. I appreciate the pleasant evening of entertainment.

In a senior moment last week I forgot to share a senior moment. Here are two this week to make up for it.

“I’m going to retire and live off my savings.  Not sure what I will do the second week.”

“Even duct tape can’ fix stupid…but it can muffle the sound.”