Silliness and Our Outing

Just to avoid future cases of mistaken identity I’ve  taken to wearing descriptive labels.  A1 took this picture as I did my best “Sexy Beast” pose… long story, we’re silly people and A1 watches Tyra Banks.

witch

After all, what if someone dunks me in a pond and I float so they conclude that I’m either a duck or made out of wood? Or what if some zealot starts throwing buckets of water at me?  I am flammable so stake burning sounds equally distasteful. Told you, we’re silly people.  The girls and I made witch jokes all day long.  And now for something completely different. 

I’ve narrowed down the pictures from yesterday’s trip to Fort Vancouver to about a hundred or so.  When we arrived at the Brigade Encampment Celebration there was a live musket demonstration underway.

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Many of the reinactors were State Park Rangers and they were quite knowledgeable of 1840’s life and Fort Vancouver History.  The above gentleman proudly showed us the muskat that he’d made himself.  It took over a minute between rounds to load and pack a new ball for shooting.  And to think I used to complain when my M-16 got hot and jammed.

At a nearby fire pit his twelve year old son diligently worked at making lead muskat balls.

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This lady gave us history about early Fort Vancouver demographics and the new customs that resulted because of the eclectic mix of people .  She said that quite a few Hawaiians were brought to work at the fort because they were expert watersman. I’d no idea that Pacific Islanders settled in the area at all. She taught the girls how to create lovely bracelets, wreathes and other adornments with flowers, ferns and cattails. 

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A young lady next to her showed us some of the ways that cattail use, orginated by the local Native Americans, played an important role in everyday life. This cord was very strong and it was made using strips of cattail leaves plied together. Often times the cattail stalks were left whole then woven together  with cattail cords. These mats were used to sleep on because they kept bedrolls dry by providing a barrier between the ground and the blankets/furs. 

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Because Fort Vancouver was by and large a fur trading station there were many examples of critter skins to experience.

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One gentleman explained the tanning process to my daughters while they cringed and gagged.  Common tanning ingredients included animal brains (amino acids) mixed with ash. Many times urine was used to bleach hides as well. This deer hide had to be one of the softest things ever!

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A very nice young lady approached my younger girls and asked them to join her playing some traditional games. Here they are trying to keep their hoops rolling.

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Women cooked at campfires throughout the site. This stew smelled delicious!  Some of the other food… well, folks back then were probably not as particular as people are now days.

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I was slightly disappointed at the lack of spinning, weaving and other traditional fiber arts. I approached a lady who was sewing and asked her about this, but she was rather rude and said that people didn’t spin in the northwest… I have no comment.

After leaving the encampment area we visited the actual Fort.  Okay, so it’s actually a reproduction of the fort built on the original location.   The gardens were lovely. The original gardens were gargantuan in comparison.

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A view inside the stockade showed this nifty belt that went around prisoners’ waists. They must not have had very large pioneers/soldiers there, this didn’t expand much beyond what looked like a 32″ pant size.

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The girls flitted from building to building.

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Cannons were locked down and the piles of balls were all welded into place in case a wayward thief tried to lift a big gun.  No amount of coercing could convince my daughters to pose in or next to the outhouses… hence the cannon shot.

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A working blacksmith eagerly talked our ears off while pumping the large overhead bellows and hammering away. He said that nails, needles and other small items were cheaper to import already made and the blacksmiths at the fort focused mainly on livery and larger tools. The metal heats up and cools surprisingly fast.

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This is a replica of the trading post.  The beads were amazing.

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Here’s a room showing where the animal skins were weighed and sold. The large tan bundles were full of furs that had been packaged and labeled for transport.

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I’m not sure what the carpenter was making. He didn’t talk to anybody, but rather worked away intently.

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The final stop on our fort tour was to the bakery. One entire building was dedicated to baking! These ovens were huge, as were the flour bins, tables, etc. It was easy to imagine workers awaking at the wee hours of the morning to start making the monstrous amounts of bread needed to supply the fort. Which in turn made me wonder when settlers began planting wheat in the western states, meaning eastern Oregon territory, the plains states, etc. On the coastal side of the Cascade mountains  the weather never gets hot enough to grow wheat properly so much of the flour either must have been imported or came from another grain source.

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After we left Fort Vancouver we ate lunch at the farmer’s market then meandered through the stalls.  It was very crowded and about 1/2 of the booths were selling restaurant style food. Eventually we bought a few vegetables.

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My youngest was determined to buy some flowers for her dad so while I discussed future shawl pins with a jeweler she visited a florists stall.  This particular florest sold flowers by the stem and assembled bouquets.  When A3 pulled out her pink purse full of pennies and started to ask how much she could buy (she had about $4.00 worth of copper she’d lugged around the entire day) the very nice man put together a bunch of flowers for her for free. 

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My DH enjoyed his laid back afternoon as a bachelor. After dinner everyone helped him blow out the candles. On a side note, he hates birthdays passionately.  He always has.

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And as suspected, Bonny missed us terribly. She could hardly restrain her joy when we came home, but she’s a good actress and pretended to sleep until the camera flash distracted her.

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“I knew the peace and quiet wouldn’t last.”

Cheer up Bonny, you could be this poor fellow! He really has to endure a lot.

I left all of  my knitting home on the table so there’s not much progress to report. Honestly, there wouldn’t have been time to work on anything though.  Today the girls start Volleyball and Wrestling. That means lots of driving and long hours of sitting/knitting. Cheers!

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Silliness and Our Outing

  1. Great minds do think alike. On our ride home last night from BSG (WE MISSED YOU!!!) we spent many an hour quoting from the Holy Grail.

  2. knitwonpurltoo

    Hopefully, Bonny has recovered from your big day. Whaddya mean they didn’t spin in the Northwest? What an asshat answer. Oh, and the crops are planted in the plains (here in Middle Earth), after the last frost. Wheat is a predominantly winter crop here now. Yeah. I have all kinds of useless information;-P

  3. Kelly’s family has been wheat farming in Eastern WA since before it became a state…about 1880, or a decade earlier, but Spokane was settled around 1810. Fort Vancouver was founded in 1824. The York Factory Express, which supplied some of its goods from Hudson Bay to Fort Vancouver, passed through Fort Colville in E. WA, at least in the early years. This was how they got goods from the East and as far as London to the West Coast of the Americas. It’s possible that there were wheat growers that early that sold its goods to the Hudson Bay traders en route to Fort Vancouver.

  4. Making stuff and seeing stuff get made is so cool.

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