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Paddling Through History

The two dugout canoes belonging to the Discovery Expedition of St. Charles, Mo., had collected 4 inches of water overnight Friday.
It was one more piece of historical accuracy in the volunteers? re-enactment of the Lewis and Clark Expedition 200 years earlier to the day.
Saturday morning at Frenchman?s Bar Park on the Columbia River out of Vancouver, Wash., Keller was sniffing from a fresh cold.
?It?s been enjoyable, until I caught this cold,? Keller said. ?We were soaked coming down the river.?
Shortly after 7:30 a.m., the re-enactors were finishing a breakfast of oatmeal, frosted flakes, cookies and bakery apple pie in the kitchen tent, one of their five canvas shelters.
Nearby, Buckley National Guard members of Alpha Co. 1st Battalion, 19th Special Forces were shaking the rain off their nylon tents. They have been escorting the re-enactors since Oct. 8, when they took on the responsibility in a ceremony in Clarkston, directly across the Snake River from Lewiston, Idaho.
Bryant Boswell, taking two-plus years off from his work as a dentist in Star, Miss., to play Meriwether Lewis, was already into his neoprene wetsuit, period watch coat and broad-brimmed hat.
?Never let it be said that the captain only orders jobs to be done,? he said after helping to bail out the canoes, then shove them into the river. It took six men, heaving together, to budge each dugout canoe.
Upriver, Sgt. Rick Schultz, 37, of Port Orchard and Staff Sgt. Dave Rosander, 41, of Stevenson, were tending to one of the Special Forces? three Zodiacs.
William Clark, Monday, Nov. 11, 1805.
Paddling with the river, the men in the canoe were making 4 mph, and singing ?Leave her, Johnny Leave Her,? making up verses as they sped on.
?Well Old George Truman paddled on his knees,? sang out Bud Clark, the great-great-great-great grandson of William Clark.
?Leave her, Johnny, leave her,? responded the crew.
?I don?t know if it?s true, but I hear he?s got fleas.
?And it?s time for us to leave her.
?Leave her, Johnny, leave her!
?Oh, leave her, Johnny, leave her,
?For the voyage is done and the winds don?t blow,
?And it?s time for us to leave her!?
Rosander is impressed by the re-enactors? fidelity to the spirit of the journey.
?Every day, they read from the journals,? he said.
One of the canoes, with Dick Brumley at the bow, came up alongside the Zodiac.
Brumley, 67, of Lewistown, Mont., had taken the re-enactors for a hike when they stopped there in July.
?They thought I could hike pretty well, so they invited me to come along,? he said.
?He?s my hero,? Schultz said as they paddled away. ?Look at him dig in with that paddle.?
?Oh where oh where can my baby be? The Lord took her away from me,? floated up from the boat. The men were singing ?Last Kiss.?
The wind was at their back. It seemed all was right with the voyage.
At 11 a.m., five miles down from camp, the sky opened, and stayed that way. The singing stopped. The paddling continued.
?We make a safety call,? Roney said. ?We don?t make a too miserable call.?
?This is inclement weather,? Schultz said. ?Bad weather requires goggles.?
?This is our best yet,? Josh Loftis, 19, of Belleville, Ill., called over from his canoe. ?We?re moving at 5 miles an hour! It doesn?t get much better than this!?
Loftis, a descendant of Pvt. George Shannon, the youngest member of the expedition, started planning for this voyage when he was 12.
?I worked ahead in high school so I could graduate early and go. I graduated when I was 16,? he said.
He?s kept in touch with his friends by cell phone and each winter visits home. He has not had time to look at or apply to colleges, but he wants to study marine biology. He was undaunted by the increasing rain, the rising wind.
?Still inclement,? said Schultz, the dry wit in a wet boat.
?The rain continues all day. all wet. the rain [etc.] which has continued without a longer intermition than 2 hours at a time for ten days pashas destroyd the robes and rotted nearly one half of the fiew clothes the party has.?
William Clark, Thursday, Nov. 14, 1805.
The team had planned a 25-mile journey, punctuated at 10 miles by a meeting with canoes of the Chinook tribe. They could take the boats out there and truck them to camp in Kalama, or they could paddle into a weather report of gale winds and worse rain.
The Zodiacs pulled alongside the canoes, the re-enactors took hold of the lines, and the outboards powered the pairs through the rain, and the meeting with the Chinooks.
Fresh, dry and sleek, the Indian canoes sped out to meet them in a slough, and the expedition met them paddling on their own. Clark ordered oars raised in salute and delivered a formal greeting. The men handed gifts over, and received gifts.
The crowd on the riverbank watched in wet delight.
The canoes headed for the marina, and the highway. William Clark would have been pleased with the decision. There again was a good 4 inches of water in the boats

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