A Kitchen Counter

2005 Sue with stove on canoe Marias trip

Here is the latter-day Julia Childs serving up breakfast on her portable (and portageable) kitchen counter. Flipping the canoe and using its flat, broad base as a countertop solves the campsite problem of organizing and producing a meal in timely fashion.

This photo was taken on a trip down the Marias River, a tributary of the Misssouri in central Montana. We staked our tent each night on the floodplain, which is public land, but  the grassy areas lacked good, sturdy rocks on which to perch a cookstove. There were also (we were told) rattlesnakes lurking in the grass, so I wasn’t keen on getting bitten reaching for the salt. We also used the canoe for dish detail after dinner, and let the plates and cups air-dry in the arid Montana evening. We toted our drinking and wash water, since the silty Marias is not appealing for either use.

What’s on the menu? Scrambled eggs, refried beans with salsa (leftover from the last night’s supper) and homemade bread.

I doubt Meriwether Lewis and his men had such fare when they explored this river in 1805. Heading west, Lewis and Clark were baffled by the Marias, a major river not on the map Hidatsa Indians had draw them (Stephen Ambrose in his book Undaunted Courage has a good guess why.) The expedition wondered what river was the true Missouri, and Lewis took some men and his dog and walked upstream along the Marias to see where it went.

On our paddle down the river, I often imagined Lewis’s silhouette striding atop the bluffs, his dog following in his wake.


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