Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Hawkeye Lays it Down on Dead Indian Memorial Highway

(Brian Hartenstein on Dead Indian Memorial Highway)

"I am willing to own that my people have many ways of which, as an honest man, I can't approve.  It is one of their customs to write in books what they have done and seen, instead of telling them in their villages, where the lie can be given to the face of a cowardly boaster, and the brave soldier can call on his comrades to witness for the truth of his words."  -Hawkeye, Last of the Mohicans

We left Ashland and drove north along Dead Indian Memorial Highway.  The drive was absolutely stunning.
(A few years after the 1853 Rogue River Indian War, a white settler, who had been camping in the Siskiyous along the Applegate Trail, awoke to discover his horse was missing.)

"I am no scholar, and I care not who knows it; but, judging from what I have seen, a deer chases and a squirrel hunts, of the sparks below, I should think a rifle in the hands of their grandfathers was not so dangerous as a hickory bow and a good flint-head might be, if drawn with Indian judgment, and sent by an Indian eye."  -Hawkeye, Last of the Mohicans.

It's one of the most beautiful stretches of roads I've ever rolled through.
(Assuming Indians in a nearby village stole his horse, he  immediately ventured into Ashland and rounded up 15 men to ride out and 'Lick them Indians'... and retrieve his stolen property.)

"I know not but man may so deform his works in the settlement, as to leave that which is so clear in the wilderness a matter of doubt among traders and priests."  -Hawkeye, Last of the Mohicans

After our Pilgrims and Puritans Unit, we've been reading excerpts from James Fenimore Cooper's Last of the Mohicans. It's a boy's book, I know... one that saved me as a youth growing up in the forests and cow fields of Colton.  Yet it's also significant because it framed our collective ideas of the western frontier during the French and Indian War.
(The Indians, peacefully doing nothing but berry collecting and seeing this attacking party approaching, fought back, wounding several of the white men who hastily retreated.)

"Wisdom is sometimes given to the young, as well as to the olde... and what you have spoken is wise..."  -Hawkeye, Last of the Mohicans

The story of Hawkeye, the frontiersman.  Chingachgook and Uncas, the last of a dying name.  Magua, the soulless savage bent on revenge.  The fearless Cora and naive Alice.  The lovelorn Major Heyward.  All trying to survive at the edge of the world in a tumultuous time.  
(The next day a detachment of 38 soldiers from Fort Lane rode out to retrieve one of the fallen white bodies ... which they did... but also discovering an old broken tree branch and the horse then man had lost... just waiting for him to return.)

"I say, young gentleman, may providence bless your undertaking, which is altogether for good, and remember, that to outwit the knaves, it is lawful to practice things that may not be naturally the gift of white skin."  -Hawkeye, Last of the Mohicans

I've always loved the character of Hawkeye, Natty Bumppo, the main protagonist in Cooper's The Leatherstocking Tales.  Know as 'The Pathfinder' or 'The Trapper,' as 'Deerslayer,' and 'La Longue Carabine.'  He was a man that rejected 'book learnin'' and instead focused on what nature could teach him... to live in balance with the unknowns of the physical world.
(Disgusted and angry... they falsely spread word that Indians had mutilated the fallen white man and another search party was organized to rout out the Native Americans.  As many as 15 were slaughtered due to this man and his lost horse. Dead Indian Memorial Highway is named for this senseless massacre.)

"You will have occasion for your best manhood, and for a sharper wit than what is to be gathered in books afore you outdo the cunning or get the better of a Mingo."  -Hawkeye, Last of the Mohicans

There's always a kind of wisdom around us that isn't in books. Hawkeye knew it.  I have to remind myself and my daughters of this, every now and then, as we roll through the unknown.

Even the Mimes are Fighting in Ashland, Oregon

(Elizabethan Theater in Ashland. We stopped in to watch Twelfth Night)

"All the World's a stage, and all the men and women merely players."  -Shakespeare
(My All the World's a Stage Poster... Yes, I know the difference between Twelfth Night and As You Like It.)

"They have their exits and their entrances and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages." -Shakespeare
(Ashland Shakespeare Poster in Stratford Inn)

"At first the infant, mewling and puking in the nurse's arms." -Shakespeare
(I know it's not American Lit, but we wrapped up our Pilgrims and Puritans Unit... and it's our Yearly Tradition.)

"And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel and shining morning face, creeping like a snail unwillingly to school." -Shakespeare
(I think about my kids growing up so very much.  It's a different kind of world they've inherited from the previous generations, even from Millennials.  So many options and opportunities ... whatever sacrifice I can make for them, it's worth it.)

"And then the lover, sighing like a furnace, with a woeful ballad made to his mistress' eyebrow." -Shakespeare
(So we take a little study break... stroll this perfect little place.  Ashland is our kind of town)

"Then a soldier full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard, jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel, seeking the bubble reputation even in the cannon's mouth." -Shakespeare
(Watching or 'Hearing' a Play, then Hanging Out for Dinner Along Ashland Creek)

"And then the justice in a fair round belly with good capon lin'd, with eyes severe and beard of formal cut, full of wise saws and modern instances and so he plays his part." -Shakespeare
(We Watch Two Mimes Play Fighting)

"The sixth age shifts into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon with spectacles on nose and pouch on side." -Shakespeare 
(Cruise by Some Amazing Ashland Statues)

"His youthful hose well sav'd, a world too wide for his shrunk shank, his big manly voice turning again toward a childish treble, pipes and whistles in his sound." -Shakespeare
(Pause to sing and dance.  Yep, that's a Unicorn!)

"Last scene of all that ends this strange and eventful history." -Shakespeare
(Ashland Downtown at Sunset.  We stay at the Stratford Inn as always.  Jog out to the Univ.  Swim in the pool.  I saw a deer in someone's backyard, just staring back at me... we recite passages from the play... In the morning we head north, toward Central Oregon... into the Cascades.)

"Is second childishness and mere oblivious; sans teen, sans eyes, sans taste, sanse everything." Shakespeare

Monday, February 27, 2017

Life and Adventures of Jack Engle

Lost for 165 years, a villainous lawyer, virtuous Quakers, corrupt politicians, and a sultry Spanish dancer... if you don't think I stayed up late on the first night reading this cover to cover... you're nuts!

Oregon Vortex and House of Mystery!

This place has been on the travel wish list for ages...
And so we finally made the trek.  It was totally worth it!
The Oregon Vortex House of Mystery is totally awesome.
It's this little mining village near Gold Hill southern Oregon where the physics and optical illusions play tricks with your mind.  
A vortex is a spherical field of force, half above the ground and half below the ground... that creates a whirlpool forcefield of effects.
Such as this weird illusion of height transference...
Or this crazy sunken miner bunkhouse.
Check out these crazy leaning kids...
And this wacky standing broom!!
I'm totally sold on Roadside Americana and the Oregon Vortex House of Mystery was Aces!  The golf ball rolling up the gutter, the 7-Up bottle rolling up the hill... it was crazy.  This place was even mentioned on the X-Files.  If it's good enough for Fox Mulder, it's good enough for me.  

Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest

(We headed north from Crescent City along Highway 199 through the magnificent Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest)

Can you pass this Pilgrims and Puritans test I gave my daughters?  
(Past Gorgeous Rocks and Streams from Hiouchi to Gasquet)

What is a Pilgrim?  What events led the Pilgrims to choose America?  What year did the Pilgrims land at Plymouth Rock?
What was the name of their original ship?  How many passengers set sail and how long did the voyage take?  Who was William Bradford?  What was the Mayflower Compact?  Who was Squanto?  Samoset?  Massasoit?  What was the original Thanksgiving?
(Following the Smith River from Darlingtonia and Idlewild)

What is a Puritan?  How were Puritans originally different from the Pilgrims in their relationship to the Church of England?  Who was John Winthrop?  Who was Anne Bradstreet?  What were the Salem Witch Trials?
(Up the Redwood Highway)

What were all Thirteen of the original Colonies and how were they divided?  Who was William Penn?  Walter Raleigh?  Anne Hutchinson?  Roger Williams?  Charles I,II?  James Oglethorp?
(All the Way to O'Brien... Nice to be back, Oregon!)

What is the plot, major characters and themes to the following narratives:  The Scarlet Letter, The Crucible, and The Witch of Blackbird Pond?
(We Finally Stopped at...Well, You Know Where!)

Bonus Question:  Name this Southern Oregon Town?  

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Trees of Mystery Sky Trail Tram and The Witch of Blackbird Pond

(All Aboard the Trees of Mystery Sky Trail Tram)

"'Would there be room in the boat for me to ride to shore with you?' She begged.  'I know it's silly, but there is America so close to me for the first time in my life - I can't bear not to set my foot upon it.'" -The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth George Speare

To end our Puritan and Pilgrim Unit, we read The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare.  It's a great young adult book about coming to America and you know... basically being accused of evil witchcraft because you swim really well.  The girls loved it.  
(View from Atop the Sky Tram at the Surrounding Forest)

"Her hands were unskillful not so much from inability as from the rebellion that stiffened her fingers... she had not been reared to do the work of slaves."  -The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth George Speare

The main character is this teenage 'fish out of water' named Katherine 'Kit' Tyler who arrives in the Connecticut Colony to live with her aunt and sticks out like a sore thumb with the uptight Puritans.  Kit is a headstrong high-born from Barbados and it doesn't take long for her to clash with those Bible thumpin' stiff necks.
(And of course, the Pacific Ocean!)

"She liked teaching children, and hopefully there might be a library where she could extend her own learning as well as that of her charges.  Whatever befell, there would be blue sky overhead, and the warmth and color and fragrance and beauty that her heart craved."  -The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth George Speare

The reason I love this book so much is that it shows young girls how important it is to follow your true self.  High above the Redwoods today taking the Trees of Mystery Sky Tram, we hung out on the platform and thought about Kit and all her struggles as a stranger in a strange land.
(Rebekah and Dad in the Sky Tram)

"'I've thought of nothing else all winter.  In November we'll sail south to the Indies.  In the summer...'"  -The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth George Speare

But we also reflected on just how far we'd come together.  My kids have traveled to over twenty-five countries and still counting.  They know a thing or two about being in foreign environments, adapting, and staying true to themselves.  I'm so proud of that.
(Brian Hartenstein Catches His Breath. Chasing these Kids around is Hard Work)

"'She's contrary as a very witch herself.  All the way up the river she's been holding back somehow, waiting.  Now you'll both have to wait.  I'm not going to disappoint her, Kit. When I take you on the board the WITCH, it's going to be for keeps.'"  -The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth George Speare

As we hung out atop the Redwoods overlooking the brilliant Pacific Ocean, we reflected, remembered, and relaxed.  Crucial road trip down time!  What a perfect site hidden among the tallest trees in the world.  We stayed until the last tram, until there was nothing left but to say farewell and follow the sun leisurely back down to Earth.  

Trail of Tall Tales Redwood Trees of Mystery

Amid the fantastic Redwoods Trees of Mystery roadside park there is an attraction called: The Trail of Tall Tales.
Oh yes... I'm talking chain saw art!  Welcome to total Americana.
My kids and I are not really studying Tall Tales yet, even though they know them extensively.  We're still wrapping up our Pilgrims and Puritans Unit before moving on to Colonial Times...
But I couldn't resist putting these wood block statues here as they are just so masterfully made.
John Henry, Pecos Bill, Slue Foot Sue... all these wonderful American Tall Tale figures.  
The American west is where I was born and raised...
It's so wonderful to stroll through this Trail of Tall Tales and see our Northwest corner of America on display.  This is what this first loop of American travel was all about.

Friday, February 24, 2017

TREES OF MYSTERY! Northern California

We cruised south from the Redwoods National Park about an hour along brilliant Highway 101 overlooking the magnificent Pacific Ocean toward the Trees of Mystery in Northern California.
We were met by a gigantic talking Paul Bunyan and his buddy Babe, the Blue Ox.  Yes, they talked... and delighted my kids by scaring them half to death.... which was awesome!
By the way, thats:
Crusades 1096
Magna Carta 1215
Columbus 1492
Pilgrims 1620
Independence 1776
California to the Union 1850
And now the Hartensteins... 2017!
I was shocked and amazed at this forest.  The paths, the split trees, the funny tree chapel.  It was awesome.
The tallest trees in the world are the Sequoias which reach heights of 300 feet.  The world's tallest tree is Hyperion, discovered in 2006, and is 379.7 feet tall... but scientist are keeping mum on its actual location.
So here's to the Redwoods... and the Trees of Mystery!