Stan hat seine Erlebnisse bei unserem Montana-Trip in einem Tagebuch verarbeitet, das die beste Beschreibung der Gegend seit dem berühmten Tagebuch von Lewis und Clark darstellt. Wer dieses Tagebuch lieber mit Karten und Bildern lesen will, der starte bitte hier.
Stan has written a journal on our Montana trip. It is certainly the best journal about this area since the famous one of Lewis and Clark. If you want to read this journal in a version with maps and pictures, please start here.
The Journal of Stan Keisler
Cook No. 2
“How I Survived a Dinner With a Grizzly “
Tuesday August 13th. Stayed up all night packing and preparing the household for Erik and Leah who will stay behind. Time to leave, 6:30 A.M. The car is packed, Cheryal, Tini, and I are all inside, and we head for the K-Mart store. There is one problem, I go to the K-Mart in Chippewa Falls, instead of the K-Mart in Eau Claire. I thought it would be close to the bus company there, but they used a bus company from Durand instead. No one is there! So, we rush to Eau Claire and arrive at 6:55 A.M. Departure time is 7:00 A.M. The group descends upon my car, like vultures, grabbing our gear, and loading it on the bus. What a “great” way to start things off, no sleep and arriving late.We meet our bus driver, Richard Sebens, better known to us all as “Dick”. Our first stop is Roberts to pick up the New Richmond group. The pick up truck and trailer is late and the bus has to be repacked a few times before all the gear will fit. Now, I’m not feeling so bad for being a little late at Eau Claire. The group is running behind time, but we are finally on our way west.Our next stop is St. John’s University, where Tim Scott was a student. They have a really unique church there, designed by a German emigrant. It is a famous design, and Tini knows of it from her school books, while taking her architecture classes. Lunch is prepared at our “chuck wagon”, and we eat sitting on the grass outside the church.Back on our bus, we soon discover that they are NOT made for sleeping in. I pass out frequently, anyway, and wake up drooling. Still, we travel on, crossing the border into North Dakota, and on to Bismarck ( nice German name). Here, we head north along the east side of the Missouri River, finally stopping at Fort Stevenson State Park, on the north shore of Lake Sakakawea.We camp in a grove of trees, and make preparations for supper. After clean up, Tim gets out the guitar and some of the group sing along with him until the wee hours of the night. Cheryal and I on the other hand, are wiped out, from lack of sleep and the uncomfortable bus ride. Once my body hits the sleeping bag, I pass out, quickly.Wednesday August 14th. We wake up early, and sneak off to take a shower, which are quite a distance from our site. It is nice to be clean again. Breakfast is set out, and the break down of camp is begun. Soon, we are all packed and on the bus again, continuing west. Down the road a piece, our bus almost rear-ends the trailer when they suddenly slow to make a turn. It is the wrong place to turn. One of the trailer lights is not operating and Dick couldn’t tell what the heck they were doing up there. Crossing the Missouri River soon afterward, also put us in a different time zone ( Mountain Standard Time ).
Motoring south through Theodore Roosevelt National Park, we see the “northern” badlands. Our tour takes us to Medora, North Dakota, where we picnic at a quiet shelter house, in the national park, among the buffalo ( American bison ). We take the scenic drive among buffalo, prairie dogs, hawks, and wild horses. Cheryal is quite ‘taken’ by the wild horses. If you think about it, all the horses we ever see in Wisconsin or Germany, are domesticated. It is amazing that there is still room in this crowded world for them to run free. The scenic drive delays us quite a bit, although it was worth it. The animals, the view, our bus driver, and our fellow companions made the afternoon a pleasant one. We depart Medora and Theodore Roosevelt National Park, driving west for Montana.
As the evening approaches, rain starts to fall on a dry and dusty landscape. Nearing Miles City, Montana, the traffic slows, and an ambulance races past us in the opposite direction. Rounding a bend in the highway, we come upon the accident. It looks like an older Chevy Suburban had lost control in the rain, and rolled over – hard. So hard in fact, that the truck body has broken loose from the frame. Everyone feels a little sick from what they see.
Miles City becomes our fuel stop, and as it turns out, because of the lateness of the evening, we end up eating there as well. We eat at a restaurant with some of our group. Older folks at one booth, and the younger folks right across from us. Back on the bus, we head west to Forsyth, then south to Lame Deer, and then east to Ashland. It is about 11:00 at night as we pull into the St. Labre Mission. We are greeted by our host, Dave. After unloading the bus, we find out we are staying in some really nice rooms, ( just like a motel ). The young folks with us, share their rooms with 4 to 6 others. Cheryal and I were given a room just for us, one double bed. This is pretty cool, we even have private baths.
Thursday August 15th. We wake up in the morning, and get another surprise; breakfast is served in the little cafeteria. ( the main cafeteria was being remodeled )
No cooking! After a pleasant outdoor breakfast, we meet our guide, Bart ” The Horse Whisperer “. On board the bus, we travel to Lame Deer, where we hear about the last action between the cavalry and the Cheyenne. Lame Deer was killed in the shoot out, hence the name of the town.
On to our destination, Medicine Deer Rock. This is located on ranch property just off the Cheyenne Reservation. We are in the valley of the Rosebud Creek, a very beautiful country side. Everyone signs in at the ranch house, where we meet their friendly dogs. This rancher is a direct descendant of the original rancher from the 1880’s. He has made it his policy to open the rock for viewing, but, he keeps it under watchful eyes, to prevent vandalism. On board the bus, we kinda “off road it” to the rock. This is definitely not a bus route! The rancher follows us out to the rock in his four wheel drive, and proceeds to tell us of Sitting Bull and the vision he had of the falling solders in the encampment, which proceeded the Battle of Little Big Horn. Petroglyphs tell the story, starting on the east side of the rock, where the sun rises, and ending on the west side, where the sun sets. There are offerings placed by the Indian visitors, stuffed in the cracks of the rock and strewn about the ground. Bart took us across the way to Owl Rock, where petroglyphs tell the story of how Crazy Horse was killed.
Back at Labre, we are led to an auditorium where Bart ” the Horse Whisperer ” introduces us to a couple of fellows ( one of them, his adopted father, nick-named Bisco). They tell us tales of how the horse got spotted, and of a hunt, from long ago. Many questions are asked after their stories are through. They are then given gifts from our group. Afterwards, we tour the church and museum. Cheryal picks up some dream catchers, transparencies.
We prepare supper ( bratwurst ) over in the same area where we ate breakfast and lunch. There is no supper served from the little cafeteria. We cook. Phillip or Sebastian ( I couldn’t tell them apart at this stage of the expedition) helps with the cooking of the greasy bratwurst. After cleanup, right at twilight, bats start to fly about. I show some of the group how you can bring a bat down closer. Something that I discovered as a boy, I throw a small rock straight up in the air as a bat flies past. The bat thinks it is a big bug, and makes a dive for it. As I walk away from the group, they are throwing small rocks into the air, fooling the bats, and entertaining the few standing there. Dave, our host, sets up a campfire for us, a short distant from the motel. Soon we are sitting around the fire, singing many songs. Even Dave picks up a guitar and sings a few songs.
Friday August 16th. We have breakfast at the little cafeteria for the last time, pack up the bus, and clean up the school’s motel. We bid the wonderful St.Labre Mission and School a farewell, bestowing upon the staff, patches, a neckerchief, and T-shirts.
On the road again . . . this time to Crow Agency, to visit the Crow Fair. Across the high prairie, we motor along, out of the Cheyenne Reservation, into the Crow Reservation. We pass many small ranches, many having horses in the corrals or out in the pastures. The horse is very important to the Indians. Unfortunately, some of the ranches and homes have the appearance of junk yards, with all the abandon cars, parked helter skelter.
At Crow Agency, we drop off the pickup truck and trailer, at St. Dennis Catholic Church, our accommodations for the evening. Leaving our driver to find a parking place, we walk through the gate of Crow Fair, and step back into time ( somewhat? ). There are over 1000 teepees set up in the fair, which the participants actually sleep in. The parade starts a little after our arrival, as families parade past in all their regalia, many on horse back. After the parade, we are invited to the encampment of Heywood Bigday’ s family. Off to the side of the campground, six teepees are set up, three facing three. Between them are some permanently erected poles and cross pieces, that are used to support a huge tarp. Here we seat our selves or stand around the long table beneath the tarp. He then tells of the Sun Dance, and many questions are asked and are answered. Out on the grounds, we indulge in native foods ( fry bread tacos ? ? ? ), and do a little shopping. Heywood’s adopted son, Adrian Hydericht, acts as our guide to our next destination, Little Big Horn Battlefield Site. While we are there, a strong wind arises, with gusts of 60 to 70 mph. Some of the more slender scouts are actually leaning into the wind and not falling over. The sky literally turns brown from all the dust.
I had read some books and articles about the Battle of Little Big Horn, so I knew what had happened here. Yet, you have to be here to see where the Indians encamped and how Custer came to be where he fell. It all makes sense, now.
The group returns to the church, and meet our host Father Charley. The bus is unloaded and supper is prepared, We get a tour of the church and the famous paintings that hang on the walls.
Returning to Crow Fair, we ask more questions of Heywood Bigday, but we can hear the drumming, and are impatient to join the festivities. After a dusty walk, we seat ourselves at the arena. All around the arena, the singers and drummers take turns performing for the audience, while different categories of dancers move to the beat. The little dancers were pretty cute, and quite good. The bus left at 10 P.M., but a few from our group stay later, and walk back to the church.
Saturday August 17th. Mindy puts on a seminar for the back pack hikers.
After giving St. Dennis our kind attention (a thorough cleaning), we embark for Red Lodge, our home base, for the next 5 days. Two vans are rented in Billings, as we eat our lunch in the Walmart parking lot. After passing through Red Lodge, we find our two Custer National Forest campgrounds, and settle in for the night. The outbound backpackers stay at Rattin campsite and prepare for departure in the morning. The base camp group stays at Sheridan campsite. We all go to one site for supper and eat Cheryal’s gourmet ” Wild Rice Stew “. Pierre is a big help to Cheryal preparing the meal, but does not want to be known as a “French Chef”. Mindy puts on a final seminar for the backpack hikers, who leave in the morning.
Sunday August 18th.Cheryal and I ride over to the other camp to help the backpackers with breakfast. We wanted to go sooner, but we were unable to. They started without us, and didn’t find all the food. We bid Tini and the others farewell, safe hike. They load up in the bus and the two vans, and head out to their four day hikes. Cheryal seen a moose on the way there, and Betty seen a river otter back at Sheridan. We ride in the pickup, back to the ‘base camp group’ campsite. We make breakfast of pancakes which were delicious, due to Maria our pancake flipper, and Shelby and Dodi for scrounging up some eggs and butter from another campsite. Clean up begins and we pack up our site.
After a while the bus returns, and we head for our “Base Camp”, Timber Crest Girl Scout Camp. It is a very nice facility, although some people do not think so, and want to leave? Every place we stay, can’t be like St. Labre? I think what really bothers some, is the fact that no one is here to greet us, and to explain right at the first, where to camp, and what we can and can not do and use. That came later.
Supper is prepared in the lodge kitchen, and we have a meeting for possible activities to be planned while we are staying here. We make our beds in the lodge hall, facing north toward the large windows, and see the stars and big dipper, above the tall mountain. It is a beautiful, peaceful night to a controversial afternoon.
Monday August 19th. Off to Yellowstone National Park! At the meeting it was decided to divide our base camp group into four parts. The first will travel by bus, up over Beartooth Pass, turn around at Cooke City, and return to base camp. The second and third will travel by vans over Beartooth Pass, continue past Cooke City, on to Yellowstone National Park, and then return to base camp by the same route. The forth consisted of Gerry, Betty, and Kai, who will hold down the fort, back at base camp.
The bus leaves ahead of us, while we go into Red Lodge to gas up. In our van, Jörg, Andreas, Michael, Cheryal, and I travel together, Jörg says that we are the “family car”, the Gastels and the Keislers. Tim has traveling with him, Kent, Dodi, Pierre, Christian, and Stephan. Two Americans in each car, and the rest German ( and one French guy ).
Jörg is our ‘pilot’ for the first part of our journey. We travel up the Rock Creek Canyon to Beartooth Pass, ascending a series of switchbacks to the top, 10,947 ft. or 3,338 meters. We stop frequently, taking pictures, and gazing at the breath taking beauty, Tim’s and our van play leap frog all the way over the pass, occasionally stopping at the same scenic turn out. At one turn out we look way down into the deep blue waters of Twin Lakes. Here, Cheryal spies an eagle circling slowing above the water. I start filming it with my video camera. It keeps circling higher and higher, and soon it is over head flying away. It is strange to look down on a soaring eagle.
Into Cooke ( City ? ), we see the bus and Tim’s van. We elect to pass on through to the park and stop on the way back for supper. At the park’s entrance, Jörg tries to get us a scout discount, but the lady gave him a curt, “No”. Having time for only the north loop, we drive down along Soda Butte Creek and then into the Lamar Valley, where see many fly fishermen, and buffalo. Turning right at Tower Junction, we motor along, heading towards, Mammoth Springs, stopping only briefly to visit with a very, very old dead tree ( petrified ).
At the springs we mail post cards and stop at the visitors center. This building was once part of old Fort Yellowstone, back when the army took care of the park . The Mammoth Springs are “okay? “, but the scenery is spectacular elsewhere. The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and the “Lower Falls” are excellent examples of this. Along the route, we see about six elk or wapiti. As we head on our homeward leg of the trip, I relieve Jörg of his driving duties, as planned. At Tower Junction, we reverse our route. We take a few pictures of the bison and see a coyote trotting down the middle of the road, like he owns it or something.
We roll into Cooke City about 8:00 P.M. and seek our supper in the Soda Butte Restaurant and Bar, where we have an excellent meal of, steak, baked potato, and pea pods. While we are devouring our meal, a fellow from the next table says, ” Look a grizzly”. Sure enough, out the big windows in the back of the restaurant, we could see a young grizzly bear meander down the slope, cross the creek, and climb up to the right of us. The cameras were in the van, and no one was in a hurry to go out to get them . . . . . . with a grizzly in town. Go figure, we drove all over Yellowstone to see a grizz, and one shows up for dinner.
After supper, it seems safe. So, it’s quick to the van, and back on the road again; except this time we drive over the Beartooth Pass in the dark. It’s very desolate at the mountain pass, this time of the night, meeting just one car along the way; but we have the moon to guide us. As I drive around the hairpin turns, the head lights shine out into Rock Creek Canyon, but it’s an empty void. You can’t see how high you are in the dark, but you know that you are very high, because you’ve been through here in the daylight, and it’s kinda’ spooky. We arrive back in camp about 10:30. Spectacular scenery, outstanding vistas, wild beasts, and good company, made for a pleasant day. Some of the group has a fire going, but Cheryal and I are tired and we don’t stay up with them.
Tuesday August 20th. At breakfast, I find out, that Tim’s van arrived back at camp at 1:30 A.M. Wow, he has got to be tired. Tim drives off in a van to find Rich Pittsley, our guide for the day. Part of our group will go horse back riding and white water rafting, some will stay at camp, and the rest of us will travel out to parts unknown, with our guide. Our group consists of Jörg, ‘A’, Mike, Cheryal, Lynn, Kathy, Pierre, Tim, Betty, Stephan, Rich, and myself. We load into the two vans, I pilot the Pontiac and Jörg pilots the Dodge, whose air conditioning actually works.
Our first stop will be Petroglyph Canyon, somewhere near the Pryor Mountains, in the Crow Reservation. It is a long, long, long drive, out into the sage brush prairie. We turn off the main highway, onto a series of dusty dirt roads, that degenerate until it seems we are following cattle trails. Near our destination, we stop to disembark our passengers, so the vans will not scrape bottom on the rock out- croppings, and the ditch.
With water bottles and cameras, we hike over to the canyon and begin our descent. As we plod along in the soft sand, we pass rock formations, caused by thousands of years of erosion. Some remind us of people, animals, and . . . rocks. At the bottom, we find a sandy stream bed that must fill with water in the spring from snow melt, or from a sudden heavy rain, but it is dry and easy to walk. Soon, however as we descend deeper into the canyon, we have to climb and crawl over boulders, squeeze through narrow passages, and jump off rock shelves. It is hot, we are hot, and we are steadily drinking up our dwindling supply of water. We are saved from the hot sun by a cloud cover arriving over us, which is good, or bad if it starts raining. Real bad, if it would be a cloud burst that will fill this old stream bed. Our passage is slow, partly from the obstacles and partly because we are fossil hunting as we move along. Rich is explaining the rocks that we find as fossilized squid, seashells, and dinosaur poop.
Finally after several attempts to find the elusive petroglyphs, Rich locates an excellent group of them up on the canyon wall to our right. I climb up and snap a quick photo. As Rich explains the significance of the drawings to the others, Cheryal and I decide to head back. We have to climb back over all those rocks to get out of here and it looks like rain. With about a half a pint of water between Cheryal and I, we start trudging up the canyon. Even with a head start though, we are slower than the rest, and make it to the vans last. Back at the vans, we find a jug of water. Although it is warm, we pass it around to all. ‘A’ tells us this hike in the canyon is what he would call a “High Adventure” hike.
Jörg and I maneuver past the rough spots, before we let the passengers back in. Tim takes over the driving duties from me, and off we go, leaving a cloud of dust in our wake. We spy a golden eagle hunting prey, from a small cliff side. Bouncing along, back on the trail, we turn right, before we reach the main highway, onto the bed of the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad, which was only in existence for 11 years, 1900 to 1911. This railroad was built across the Crow Reservation, from the pressured request of Buffalo Bill, so that Cody, Wyoming would have rail access. It proved to be unprofitable, and closed.
Rolling along the dusty rail bed, the Pryor Mountains loom to our right. This range of mountains are named after an officer of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, who had all his horses stolen by the Crow, in this area. Wind Spirit Peak, watches over our journey. This mountain is now known as Pryor Peak, and at the other end of the range, there is a mountain that the Crow call ‘Where the Thunder Bird Sits’. Crossing Sage Creek we stop for a moment, while Rich tells about the homesteaders that once lived in this area. It was so desolate here and tough, that by the 1940’s they were all gone.
We drive up Pryor Gap (Road to the Earth Trail) to Arrow Rock (Bobhua or Mophua), which is a sacred site to the Crow Indians. The little people live inside the Rock. Here we find offerings stuffed into the rock face, and two large piles of stones that the Crow would add to, as they came through this way, to insure a safe journey. We add stones to the pile, too. . . . . no sense taking any chances. We pass Castle Rock (Plenty Coup Peak) on our way to Chief Plenty Coups State Park. The first thing that we do is visit the restroom, and drink lots of water. Here we find the chief’s original house, a museum, and his grave site.
In back of his house there is a spring that flows out from under a great cottonwood tree, that is sacred to the Crow. Many take water from it to cure ills. Again we find offerings tied to a bush at the spring. Some of us fill our water bottles and drink from it. It is late, so we load into the vans for a long, long, long ride down the dusty roads to find someplace to eat. I admire a gift that I got at the park. A tiny feather drifted down out of a cottonwood tree, near Plenty Coups’ house, and landed in my hand. Rich says that I should put it in my medicine bag ( a little leather bundle, hung about the neck, with special things such as this feather in it). I think it is a gift. We find a casino / restaurant, that is still open, and we dine in elegance. Late at night we arrive at camp. Cheryal and I take showers, to wash away the dust from today’s adventures. The vans should be so lucky, as they are just covered with dust. We fall asleep, clean.
Wednesday August 21st. Slept in today – 7:30. Down at the chuck wagon, Dick has the coffee going. What a Guy! Tim and Gerry leave to pick up group #1, the long trekkers. Left-overs are set out, Betty’s egg bake and the corn bread. I don’t like eggs, so it’s coffee and granola bars for me. We had an option today, to attend a “sweat lodge” with Heywood’s son, but everyone really wants to be at the gathering of all the returning hiking groups tonight.
Some time later Group #1 returns to the flock. They tell quick stories, but their minds are set on the showers, their last one being at St. Labre. To be honest, we’re glad they’re showering ( pew ). It is nice to see Tini again. Betina and her were tent mates, and it looks like they are fast friends from the experience. The group boards the bus for an afternoon in Red Lodge. At the first shop I discover my wallet is not with me. The bus takes some of the group back to camp ( the non-shoppers) and I tail along to retrieve my wallet. The vans and the bus are needed to fetch the other hiking groups. I catch a ride in one of the vans, Jörg drops me off down town. Wandering around town, I soon run into the girls. Tini and Betina are with them at a Native American shop. I finally catch a lunch with Lynn, as Cheryal and the others continue shopping.
Back at camp there is a controversy about supper, either cook up something at camp or eat in town. It is cold and rainy, but I’ll do what ever is decided. I don’t really care though, cause I’m not hungry anyway. A vote is taken, and we will eat at the Red Lodge Pizza Company. In the back room we fill every table, and consume many slices of pizza and soda pop. All are surprised by our group’s unknown musical talent; as Bettina, Sandra, Dan, and Lisa coax wonderful music out of the old piano in the corner.
It was suggested as a group, to present Dick, our bus driver, a Scouting the World jacket. I was elected to the task and so I made a presentation speech, that went as follows:
HERE YE ! – HERE YE ! – HERE YE !
Where as Richard Sebens:
Has gone above and beyond the call of duty;
Has proven, that yes, you can go off roading with a fully loaded bus to Medicine Deer Rock;
Has gently reminded us to close the overhead compartments;
Has taken us to where ever the heck we wanted to go;
Has re-opened the bus, way later than necessary, for the person who forgot something just before bed time;
Has greeted us to a friendly smile each morning;
and Has boldly gone where no bus driver has ever gone before.
By higher authorities, other than myself,
we bestow upon you the illustrious title of
“BUS DRIVER, EXTRA-ORDINARE”
And . . . . as a small token of our appreciation. we humbly present to you this jacket and an honorary membership in SCOUTING THE WORLD.
We left the Pizza parlor at 11:15, it was late. On our arrival to camp, some leaders and volunteers proceed to prepare meals for our trip home. I make a joke that Lynn, Cheryal, Betty, and Kathy are the queen bees and the rest of us are the worker bees. Lots of work was done by all. Got to bed really late, 2:00 A.M.
Thursday August 22nd. Woke up at 6:15 A.M. Cheryal went for the showers, while I rolled up our sleeping gear. After my shower, I packed up the tent, but couldn’t find the tent bag. It must have blown away? After breakfast, we pack the bus, clean up the camp, and say our farewell to Timber Crest Girl Scout Camp. Despite what some thought, the camp provided us quite well; a convenient location, showers, and a place for the returning hikers to stay ( cabins ).
Gerry is looking for a co-pilot in the pickup, for the drive to Billings, to drop off the rental vans. I will ride with Ger. Dick repaired the troublesome tail light on the “chuckwagon” It was a faulty ground connection. We drive to Red Lodge one last time to fuel the truck and I quickly run into a shop, to purchase for Cheryal a CD about Yellowstone, while Gerry circles the block a few times. Thanks Ger! On our way to Billings, Gerry and I engage in light conversation, making the journey a pleasant one. Tim and Daniel drop off the vans, while we wait at the same Walmart we used when we picked them up.
On the road once again, we pass the Little Big Horn Battlefield site. To the west, in the haze, I take a last look at the Pryor Mountains and think how sad it is to leave Montana. I hope to return again, some day soon. As we travel into Wyoming on Interstate 90, we all observe a small forest fire to our west, in the Big Horn Mountains. We will stop at the visitors center and rest area for lunch, but the pickup drives past the exit and we are compelled to follow. The next rest stop in Kaycee is closed, and there are no other places to stop until we get to Casper. Daniel put on a show, of sorts, for the bus passengers, at one little turn out along the route. We eat at a mall parking lot ( again ). Ah, the beauty of Casper!
Back on the bus, as it is getting dark, I finally get my banjo out, and play a few tunes. I let “A” play it next, ( the tuning is similar to a guitar) and he strums along quite well. Many songs are sung, and many in German. I try to play some harmonica along with him, and then play harmonica for quite a while afterwards. I pass out a few times. Finally, after midnight, we arrive at Lake McConaughy State Park, Nebraska. While the group sets up the camp, we prepare hot beef sandwiches for everyone. Another late night, with trains!
Friday August 23rd. We are driven out of the tents this morning by the heat of the sun, 7:00 A.M. We set up the chuckwagon, make coffee, boil water, and lay out food for breakfast. Next up, it’s time for me to take down our tent. While rolling up our sleeping gear, I notice that it is 100 degrees inside the tent, ( I finally get my sweat lodge). Breakfast is short for me, and the pay shower is long. Oops, too long, I’m last on the bus. The bus cruises around the lake. It’s water level is real low, yet as we cross the dam, they are letting a big spray of water out. We pass through the town of Oglala, Nebraska, then it’s east bound I – 80, going home.
Along the road, the group starts complaining that it is hot in the bus. Dick pulls over, finds out that the batteries won’t charge, and because of that, the air conditioner will not operate. Soon it becomes quite hot in the bus. Once again we get our sweat lodge. Dick phones home to the garage, and tries to figure out the problem. Everything he tries, doesn’t work. We can tell, that this is frustrating him. He opens the escape hatch on the roof of the bus, and that cools us in the front section. I go to the back and open the back hatch, but the wind closes it. I ask for volunteer boots to be wedged in the hatch to keep it from closing. This helps the back of the bus very little.
There is 72 hot miles to go, before we arrive at our next camp ground. The group makes the best of it, by playing Tim’s guitar and singing many songs. Kathy and I get into a conversation about our experiences with the scouting program. It is a nice talk. I met Kathy, back in the early 90’s. She was very helpful to me, sharing information, and was part of the staff at the council training sessions.
We arrive at Green Valley State Park, Iowa after a rain. The ground is real soft and the bus leaves deep ruts in the sod. It is hot and very humid, quite a change from the dry weather we had in the west. The group campsite is right on the lake. After the tents are up, a bunch of the youth go for a swim, as the full moon rises a bright orange. They get in a little trouble for swimming in the wrong area, but are soon directed to the beach. When they return, they are covered with a green slime ( algae ). Supper consists of hot-dogs, which takes a long time to cook, a few at a time, on sticks over the fire, and it takes a long time to clean up . Herman is ill, suffering from dehydration, probably from the heat of the bus. He takes a shower, drinks some water, and starts feeling a little better.
There is a campfire program after the mess is cleaned up. Firewood is acquired from other campers nearby. Dick retires early, as he had a rough day, and is expecting the relief bus late tonight. Eight or nine picnic tables are circled around the fire ring. Jörg presents merit badges to those of Stamm Lörick that earned them at Camp Phillips. After great fanfare and ceremonial speeches, the “Spools” are presented. These are given for each year that there was an exchange. 1994 – here / 1996 – Germany / 1998 – here / 2000 – Germany / 2002 – here. Four people at the ceremony have five spools. Cheryal and I are “ONE SPOOLERS”. Phillip gives a speech, Sebastian ties a lanyard around my neck, Tim slips on the spool, Daniel ties the bottom knot, Lynn shakes my hand, Shelby gives me a hug, and Mary presents a bracelet that she personally made for everyone of us. This is so cool and emotional, that nobody wants to go to bed. There are other campers sleeping near us, so we have to keep quiet. Still, we sing songs until 3 A.M. , and then slowly drift off to our tents in silence.
Saturday August 24th. It is the last day of Scouting the World – Montana Expedition. It is also Tini’s birthday! Our relief bus arrived during the night, so we have air conditioning for the balance of the trip. We wake up to very high humidity, the tents are literally dripping. It is hard to pack away wet tents, but we have to do it. We set up the chuck wagon for breakfast. The worker bees made fried potatoes, and there are bagels, too. Off we go in our new bus, north through Iowa. We stop to eat lunch at the barn wayside, the last wayside before we leave Iowa. After lunch, Dodi is bridged to adult leadership in Stamm Lörick. That is very special. We have birthday cake, celebrating all who had birthdays during our excursion. It is raining as we by-pass the Twin Cities (Minneapolis – St. Paul). Everything is so green. Where did the dry prairies go? We drop off the New Richmond bunch at Roberts. Many sad farewells, hugs, and tears are all around. A copy of the “jacket ” speech, courtesy of Dan, is given to Dick, everyone has signed it. We leave Roberts in silence. The bus seems strange, now that all of our comrades are not together any longer. What was once Scouting the World – Montana Expedition 2002 is now just a memory.
Postscript: A couple of things happened after our return to home. One was the loss of some of the excursion filmed on my video camera. We had watched the film at home, and I rewound it afterwards. The next day I gave it to Cheryal, so she could film the departure of the Germans. I forgot that it had been rewound, and I sent it off to be recorded over, losing the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and the Medicine Deer Rock segments. The second thing that happened, was, that I left this journal in my short’s cargo pocket, as it went through the wash. It was a tattered mess. Part of it was gone completely, some of it was illegible, and some, I was able to get the pages apart to dry.
I felt really angry at myself for both losses, but I was reminded by a good friend, that I will always have those memories in my mind, and no-one can ever take them away from me. Working with what I had then, I was able to piece the ‘Journal’ back together again.
This is my journal, as I experienced these events at the time. My apologies to anyone I may have offended, left out, or incorrectly recorded. That was not my intention. Although I am sharing this with all of you, the purpose of writing this journal, was for Cheryal and I, to use in our old age, in the not so distant future. We have this, to remind us of the great time we had, when Stamm Lörick and Post 896 journeyed to Montana together in the summer of 2002.