When Lewis and Clark came through his village in 1805, the future Chief Timothy was 5 years old. Rolling into Chief Timothy Park on a trailer cycle attached to her father’s bike 207 years later, Saya Scott was 6.
She was also more than 800 miles into a 1,700-mile journey to retrace the route traveled by the famed explorers.
Scott and her 12-year-old brother Sho, who rides his own bike, and father Charles Scott passed through Lewiston on Friday on day 48 of their ride from Williston, N.D., en route to Astoria, Ore., by Aug. 31.
The family, including mom Eiko, left the family’s home in New York City on June 28, bound for St. Louis by car. Then it was up the Missouri River to Williston, where Eiko Scott put the rest of the clan on bicycles bound for the ocean.
Adventure dad Charles Scott, a 45-year-old endurance athlete, calls the journey “Daunted Courage” - a reference to President Thomas Jefferson calling Meriwether Lewis “a man of courage undaunted.” But he’s humbled his title at the prospect of making the arduous trek over the Rockies with two young kids in tow.
Charles Scott gets the “you’re crazy” reaction from strangers a lot. The naysayers, as he calls them, question his parenting. They say he’s exhausting his kids or endangering them on treacherous roads. A veteran city cyclist, he just smiles and politely tells them to look a little deeper.
“I wouldn’t do this if I genuinely thought it was unsafe,” he said, adding that safety is concern number one, two and three. “It’s not about distance and speed at all.”
The Scotts take hourly breaks, stop to admire the flora and fauna, and ride at their own pace. The 100-plus-degree heat along U.S. Highway 12 the past few days has slowed them down some. Saya Scott has been thinking Antarctica sounds like a nice place to ride right now.
“I ride better in the cold,” she said.
The trick, Charles Scott said, is breaking up the ride into manageable chunks.
“You can turn a ride like this into a nightmare – basically a torture-fest for your children,” he said. “Or you can make it really, really fun. The idea is that (it) is an adventure that unfolds.”
In a “sadly sedentary” world, the larger context of the family’s journey is a not-so-subtle critique of modern life, where kids – and adults, too – are trapped behind a screen. Kids are supposed to be outside running around all day, he said. Biking across the American West is outside the norm, but doable.
And the Scotts have done it before. In 2009, Sho and Charles Scott biked the length of Japan. The whole family, including Eiko Scott – who wasn’t able to come on the Lewis and Clark trip due to an illness in the family – toured the circumference of Iceland in 2011. Then, dad and two kids spent 42 days touring western Europe in 2012. It was hard, Charles Scott said, but not crazy.
“It’s that first reaction that keeps a person from getting out of a job they hate and actually doing something they really want to do with their lives,” Charles Scott said.
Charles Scott himself left a lucrative career at semiconductor manufacturer Intel in 2011 to go on adventures with his growing kids.
“I pulled myself out of the rat race in exchange for a different kind of wealth,” he said.
He is teaching every step of the way. They read books about Sacagawea and record roadkill data for the nonprofit group Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation.
But the central lesson, Charles Scott said, is the voice in his head should be louder than the naysayers.
Charles Scott’s daily blog of his family’s journey, which he plans on turning into a book, can be found at familyadventureguy.blogspot.com