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McKenzie River diary 1946, part 2 - nhpeacenik
McKenzie River diary 1946, part 2
June 15, 1946 Started out with a fair wind plus the kicker, just for the hell of it. We just whizzed. So we cut out the engine and just sailed until the wind became less strong. Then the kicker went the way of all [ flesh? ] and began to clang & clatter. From then on Louie was buried in grease and curses. I guided and we sailed across river and back, dodging vicious sand bars. It's this part of the river where a little power would really help.

At 3:00 pm we stopped at some houses in hopes of borrowing a wrench. Canoes on the beach and junk over the step at the foot bank (?) We clambered up. There were two log houses, closed, a cache [ a shed on high stilts for storing perishables out of reach of bears, etc. -ed ] or two, and an old tent frame with a willow cradle still hanging close to the roof. It appeared Indian. Everything was strewn around in the cabin and outdoors. All kinds of objects including a worn-out Singer [sewing machine -ed ] in the yard - but no wrench. Louie picked up a rusty saw blade and retreated to the boat to file it into a wrench. I got the camera and toured the place. I found a drum ( the policeman had told us of a drum-dance the Hares put on there where women and men danced in separate groups to singing and drumming all night - wedding) made of rawhide stretched over one side of a wooden hoop by leather thongs. The thongs crossed at the back for tightening purposes. It was broken. Also I found a stone implement lying in the grass beside the house. It was chipped on two sides of crude rock - river-smoothed ... looked as if they might have used it for a scraper of some sort. About 4 x 6 inches. The cans around indicate that they chewed snuff and ate a lot of tinned foods and dried milk. Under the cache were three toboggans and some wooden snowshoes sewed with rawhide. They got game a lot too, since there were moose bones and rabbit fur, duck and goose feathers all around. Three huge tripods for fur-drying hides, and lots of willow beaver stretchers lying about. A small garden plot was prepared for planting near one house.

Louie tried everything - even made a new gasket for the kicker, but she only complained the louder. Our fair wind was weak but willing and by 10:00 pm, we'd made 35 miles and crossed the mighty McKenzie five times. An hour later, we were keeping close to shore and looking for any kind of backwater for the boat's anchorage, and for a bank that wasn't the sliding sort. The cut hills were 300 feet high, and you could see where huge landslides had come down in the river, covering the 50-foot-wide beach in places. The mosquitoes were out in terrific force.It was all we could do to keep them off by constant brushing. They don't wait to see if you have Sta-Way on - they just charge with the proboscis forward to catch anything they might hit. It burns like an electric needle for 15 minutes afterward, then just settles down to itching. Conversation ceases as such - only vehement oaths and slaps. We paddled in order to keep ourselves moving, brushing our faces with upper arm on every stroke and talking about the huge fire we were going to build for our midnight supper that would singe the beak off every mosquito from here to Arctic Red River.

We found a tiny stream outlet with a broad beach, backed by wooded cliffs. There we stoped. Louie carried down a big drift log to tie the boat to, then built a huge fire. I boiled rice on one edge of the fire, singeing my face while flies bit the back of my neck. Midnight, and the sun was till hitting clouds back of the hills. We had wieners, tomatoes and rice by the fire and felt better. Louie put teh mosquito tent up in record time. The bugs flocked around the edge of the tent ravenously Louie st inside in a quipulent mood, massacring the little varmints and giving me a play-by-play description as I squatted by the smudge, wondering how the first men ever managed to migrate up to the McKenzie to found the Southern cultures of North America.

The view out of our tent haven was of a ten-mile bend of the huge river. Loons on the river were crying sadly. The mosquitos hummed us to sleep.

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From: sonoran_scrawl Date: March 10th, 2009 03:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
wow Jim, how amazing. Was she an anthropologist? She was a great writer, so observant. What a great record she kept. I wish I had not thrown out all my old journals. These would be good for the historical society. They have very useful information to historians I think. I used to do a lot of research at the historical society here and this would be considered a gold mine. I will read all of these. I will take my time. Really she seems like a remarkable woman. Thank you for sharing this here. Peace, Nancy
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