Monday, August 17, 2009

A Montana Mancation

Today's Wonder of the World is...a Mancation on the Missouri River.

Don't you love this photo of my Ben's bony, size 14 feet? The pic was taken as my very own Lewis and Clark spent a week canoeing down the Missouri River, eating Beanie Weenies, and reliving the Corps of Discovery, as the famed explorers called their adventures.

And to think that it all started from a footnote in a book!
Back in 1997, Stephen Ambrose's book Undaunted Courage turned my mild mannered husband into a raging Lewis and Clark evangelist. "I must see this for myself," he said, and showed me Ambrose's footnote on page 228.

It is today as Lewis saw it. The White Cliffs can be seen only from small boat or canoe. Put in at Fort Benton and take out three or four days later at Judith Landing. Missouri River Outfitters at Fort Benton, Montana, rents canoes or provides a guided tour by pontoon boat. Of all the historic and /or scenic sights we have visited in the world, this is number one. We (his family) have made the trip ten times.

"That's nice, honey," I said. "Maybe you can use some of those frequent flier miles and make the trip one of these days."
Little did I know that he was a man obsessed.
A few months later, he packed up his tent and vanished into the wilderness with his crazy friend Butch. I was six months pregnant with Sam at the time, but I didn't worry too much. After all, he was with Butch, the original Marlboro Man. The man who flies a World War II biplane for fun, who's flown water bombers into forest fires, who worked for years spraying coca plants in South America while people were shooting at him. Butch is there, I'd repeat to myself. Everything will be fine.

But this time Butch and Todd were taking my middle baby Ben.

And then Butch canceled!
I worried just a little.
Okay, I worried a lot.
They were going to be out of cell phone coverage, just the two of them, in complete wilderness.
Well, almost. To their surprise, park rangers had installed port-a-potties at various spots along the river route since Todd's last trip. They wouldn't have to dig holes after all. Aw, too bad, guys.

They had a fabulous time together.
Ben learned how to canoe without turning the boat over.

And how to pull over and set up camp.

They did about twenty miles a day and spent the rest of the time eating, sleeping, reading, and enjoying whatever fun presented itself. One day an extroverted bunny rabbit presented itself, and Ben got in touch with his inner four year old, hopping after it, making it his friend. A few hours later after Ben and Todd had zipped themselves in the tent for the night, Ben heard the bunny rabbit being attacked and eaten by a wolverine. Perhaps extroversion is not a good quality in a bunny rabbit.
Ah, the wonders of nature.

No hasenpfeffer for them. But they did enjoy some blueberry cheesecake, a goodbye gift from Sam.

They also enjoyed breathtaking sunrises.

And lots and lots of cows.

And even a surprise rope swing, in the middle of nowhere!

Doesn't my man look happy?

Scruffy, but very happy.
Who wouldn't be happy in such a beautiful place?

Have a wonder-full Monday, y'all!
And tell me, does the wilderness call your name, or do you prefer the wilds of the Holiday Inn?
Love, Becky


Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

What a trip! I bet they'll both remember that time their entire lives. Someday I'd love to take the boys on a Voyageur trip in the Boundary Waters...if my body holds up!
Bummer about the bunny, though.

a Tonggu Momma said...

I can smell them from here... but I can see their beaming smiles from here, too.

Silicon Valley Diva said...

Incredible. I love all the pictures and your husband and son are amazing! I wish I was brave enough to do something like that, but I'll just live vicariously through their photos.

T. Anne said...

Sounds like they were in heaven! Love the sunset pic!

lotusgirl said...

Such a great trip. Your husband sounds so fun with all his obsessions. I love the videos. Your son has gotten so big.

I love the great out doors, but since I've been married to someone who is not a big fan I haven't had much chance to take advantage of them.

adrienne said...

The floating down the river part looks wonderful - but port-a-potties...not so much.

They must have had an amazing time. Love the cheesecake!

JaxPop said...

Now that's a vacation - 'specially the no cell phone part!

So.... when are YOU making that trip??? Hmmm????

Anonymous said...

My husband and the boys just got back 2 weeks ago with the Boyscouts on a 60 mile hiking trip in Philmont New Mexico! They had a wonderful time out there in the wild and of course came back with very smelly backpacks and various other smelly camping gear. My husband has kept the beard he sprouted. We'll see if he likes it enough to keep it a little longer. Probably will if people keep telling him he looks like Sean Connery!

Anonymous said...

OOPS! Forgot to sign my name in the above comment. Tammy Whitley

Susan Sandmore said...

I love it! And now I want Beanie Weenies.

CC said...

Awesome!!!! Now can I Have a womancation?

Dawn said...

That looks awesome! The wilderness calls my name in my mind. But my body loves beds and showers!

Anonymous said...

Are they members of the Lewis & Clark Trail Heritage Foundation? Sounds like something they might be into! (I'm a charter member of the Phila. chapter--though I haven't been able to make any meetings in a while due to writing!)

Rosemary said...

What a pretty place!!
Thanks for sharing!!
Have a great week!

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Hey y'all.
Now to answer some questions...
Jaxpop, on the last canoe trip I went on with Todd, our little morning jaunt turned into a seven hour trip on a river THAT WOULD NOT END, and I ended up in the hospital with a severe case of carpal tunnel syndrome. I was 23 at the time. Would you believe I haven't canoed since? He keeps insisting he'd do all the paddling, but I'm still wary. One of these days maybe.

Tammy, Todd shaved his beard off, probably because Sam kept teasing him about how white it was!

Jenn, that is very cool and I know they'd be interested. I'll have to talk to Todd about it.

May Vanderbilt said...

Oh how fun! I actually quite like the great outdoors, but I don't love hiking. Canoeing, sure. Skiing, definitely. Hiking...too boring.

Anonymous said...

next time you and i will have to figure out a way to go on that trip! maybe we could come for part of it or something, i don't know if i could handle a whole week in a canoe :-)

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

The Highlands of Scotland call my name. But not in a tent!!!

Susan said...

I've seen the day when I was somewhat adventuresome, but not like this. I'm glad they had a fun trip. This was a great post...the pictures and the heartwarming story of the bunny. Have a great week! Susan

R and L said...

To think that they could have been attending an Obama town hall meeting in Montana, and they chose the wilderness! Well good for them. Have enjoyed several visits to MT, though none such wilderness trips. I'm guessing Todd didn't tell you about the grizzlies they might encounter, of which there are many in MT.
As a married couple we tend to go for the scenic, wild, and National Parks, here and abroad, but always within a day from a HInnExpress or our car to sleep in. We like a comfortable sleep time, even when we're above the arctic circle. I've already experienced 100's of camping trips with family, friends, scouts, etc, that I don't feel the need to rough-it like our ancestors.
What a wonderful post Becky, to share this amazing trip with us. You do need to get out to see Glacier NP and Beartooth Parkway in Montana, and you can enjoy these from inside your car or short hikes. Yellowstone and Tetons are just a day's drive South, and they are even more magical.
Thanks again for sharing "wonders of the world", for keeping our spirits high, and our minds full of fun and interesting thoughts and ideas. Our best to you-all.


rochambeau said...

Your men are adventure seekers Becky. Great photos. Glad they can have such a great time together! Yes your son has grown into a handsome young man!!


Renee said...

This is the kind of thing that makes life great.

Love Renee xoxo

Ronnie said...

Awh, thanks for posting this adventure. I want to do this!!!
Ben looks like a very fine son to have. Todd looks cute and , yes, happy!

M. Bullard said...


Great trip...wish I had known about the late cancellation I would have offered my services as an experienced whitewater boater, Eagle Scout, high adventure camping trip leader for youth and adults, wilderness cook, and fellow Lewis and Clark fan to accompany your men-folk on the mancation...just to bring you peace of mind. I could probably of convinced your brother too ...if that would have brought you greater solace.

I tried to get my girls (Lisa and Meredith) to experience a "Corps of Discovery vacation during the 200th anniversity years -- but they would have nothing of it... camping ... uuugh! was the response I got from them ... needless to say there isn't an ounce of Sacagewa blood in either one of them.

Now after seeing the pictures... it makes me want to go all the more.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Oh man, Michael. Too bad we didn't know! You and Sam could have gone along with a second canoe and Lisa and Meredith and Sarah and I could have roughed it in a nice hotel somewhere! Hugs to you and your girls!