Council Bluffs

Tuesday, June 24, 2008 -- Council Bluffs, IA

The first Indians the Lewis & Clark Corps of Discovery met were six Oto and Missouri Chiefs who were accompanied by a contingent of warriors. The meeting, or council, was friendly and took place in this area, actually about 20 miles north of Omaha, in early August 1804. Hills or "bluffs" line this part of the river and eventually the entire area became known as the Council Bluffs. But the moniker only stuck with the town across the Missouri from Omaha -- where we're now staying.

As he would do whenever he met with Indians along the way, Meriwether Lewis explained that these lands are now a part of the United States, that they, the Indian tribes, had a new "Father" in Washington, and that it was the new governments desire to make friends with the native peoples, to trade with them, and it wanted them to become a peaceful part of this new nation. The way it turned out, however, was a different kind of "bluff".

Unfortunately, the change that would befall the Indians during the following 75 years -- one man's lifetime -- was a sad, wrenching, jarring change, that would end a way of life that existed and evolved for thousands of years. The Indian population would be decimated, mostly by European diseases for which they had no immunity. Small Pox, for example, would progress through an Indian village and maybe only 10 or 20 percent of them would survive. Many others chose to fight for their way of life and died doing so... how many of us would have the strength and nobility to do the same?

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We're beginning to notice a correlation between being close to a bigger city and the number of weird people in the campground. This really applies only to public campgrounds -- state parks in particular. The park we're at now is an easy bike ride from Council Bluffs, IA and I can see and count the number of windows in the tallest building in downtown Omaha from my campsite here at Lake Manawa -- an Iowa State Park. We're close to a lot of people.

The park is populated by one weirds-mobile after another. Here's an example:

Sunday night both Dar and I are sleeping away. It's now summer and we like sleeping with the windows open. Dar is awakened by noise -- the sound of car-doors, coolers, and other things slamming. What's going on?? She looks out her little window -- the one right next to her head. It's the guy in the site across the road from us... nervously and jerkily walking around his campsite... obviously busy doing something. What's he doing?? The moon was bright and she was able to see better as her eyes adjusted. This guy is filling his "smokey joe" barbecue with charcoal -- and not being quiet about it. I should add that he's not a young kid... he's got his family including three kids with him, but they're not part of the activity at this point.

Dar thinks "what the heck time is it anyway??" It turns out to be 3:30am... that's right, 3:(friggin')30 O'clock in the MORNING!

Then she smells the scent of charcoal lighter and the odor of charcoal being lit and starting to burn. Even if you had a hankering for a hot dog at 3AM in a public campground, wouldn't you have the common courtesy to be quiet about it??? Not this guy!

Well, now Dar is in total disbelief and can't get back to sleep. She keeps watching and he keeps cooking whatever it was. About two hours later I wake up and wonder what's going on and get an ear-full. All I know is that I had a yen for a hot-dog for breakfast and didn't know why.

I've got other stories to tell about our stay here, but I don't want to drag this on further. I think we'll be much more careful before staying at public campgrounds near big cities in the future.

T
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