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Lewis & Clark--A Book Review 

Ocean in View! by Robert Carriker and Peter Cooke & r & It's an easy drive now, the path from Lewiston to the sea. Take Highway 12 west across the high plateau south of the Snake River, through Pomeroy and Dayton, past the homeland of the Walla Wallas, to the great river of the West, the Columbia. At the McNary Dam, cross over to the north bank of the river and follow Route 14 all the way to Vancouver. After a quick sprint on I-5 north, turn onto Route 4 in Longview and travel along the river shore and the highlands to Chinook and Ilwaco and finally out to the Long Beach peninsula.


A determined driver can accomplish the journey in a matter of hours now, so it's hard to imagine that the Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery needed 39 days to traverse this same country. But in the days before AAA Triptiks, before MapQuest, GPS and OnStar, the trip was considerably more arduous.


To commemorate the bicentennial of Lewis and Clark's trip across Washington state, Gonzaga University historian Robert Carriker and illustrator Roger Cooke created a book for those seeking to follow in the explorers' footsteps, whether literally or virtually. Based on work done for Washington's interpretive roadside marker program, Ocian In View! O! The Joy follows the Corps -- in words and pictures -- as they make their way to the sea and then return eastward the following spring.


Cooke's illustrations are all done in a style reminiscent of field artists from two centuries ago, such as Gustav Sohon, Karl Bodmer (whose work was recently shown at the MAC) and John Mix Stanley. Each of the 70-plus illustrations was drawn from descriptions in the Corps' journals, and they usually tie to the events described in the text.


Carriker has studied and written on the Corps of Discovery extensively, with many articles on the topic to his credit -- including the series starting now in The Inlander. He's a frequent speaker to local and regional historical societies. He has intimate familiarity with the journals of the Corps -- not just the writings of the two leaders but the notes kept by lower-ranking members such as Sergeant Patrick Gass, Sergeant John Ordway and Private Joseph Whitehouse. Carriker integrates the information contained in the journals to compose vignettes around particular places or events. (And don't skip the footnotes.) What emerges from these stories is the resourcefulness of the travelers and their remarkable ability to provide for 33 people in the party while documenting geography, natural history and trade networks. It's a good companion volume for imagining Washington two centuries ago, whether from an armchair or through the windshield.
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