Final vacation report...
Instead of heading West towards Missoula, we decided to head South towards Helena. We took a two hour boat trip on the Missouri River through The Gates of the Mountains. This term came from the journal of Meriwether Lewis in 1805. After over a year of travel on the Great Plains, he came to these imposing limestone cliffs. Their appearance was so striking, that he called them "the gates of the Rocky Mountains". This is a really great family trip. The area is totally undeveloped and looks pretty much like it did in 1805. Just a few miles North of Helena you follow the signs off of I-15. Kids will really like the boat and the tour guide is great.
Now for "Great Moments in History Geekdom". Some of you may be familiar with the late Stephen Ambrose, probably the most successful popular historian of the 20th Century. He wrote the most popular history of the Lewis and Clark Expedition titled Undaunted Courage as well as books on D-DAY and large biographies of Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon. Ambrose was from Wisconsin and taught for most of his career at Tulane University in New Orleans. Anyway, I happen to know from reading Undaunted Courage that Ambrose's daughter, Stephanie, met the son of Bob Tubbs, the man who owns the boat tour company that takes people on these Lewis and Clark trips up the Missouri, when she was sixteen. Eventually they went to the University of Montana together and got married. So, when I was buying my tickets I asked the kid at the ticket booth if he knew Bob Tubs and he said "yeah, he's my grandpa". So I said, "wouldn't the legendary historian Stephen Ambrose be your other grandpa?" And he said "that would be true, he was my mom's dad".
Surely someone on this blog can appreciate the greatness of that moment for me?
Didn't do any running. Just sat in my hotel room reading Young Men and Fire by Norman Maclean who some of you might recognize as the author of a much more famous book about Montana, A River Runs Through It which was made into a movie by Robert Redford. Young Men and Fire is the story of thr Mann Gulch fire of 1949 which claimed the lives of 13 U.S. Forrest Service "smokejumpers". The fire occured on the same stretch of Missouri River as our boat trip between Mann Gulch and Meriwether Canyon. So far, I highly reccomend the book.
It's good to be back home now.