Sometimes, when I am homesick for the South, that canopy of green that my childhood was played under, I will set my I-Pod to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and let the mournful, sweet strains of Shenandoah fill the room.  It’s also been recorded by Bing Crosby, the Statler Brothers, Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia & Dave Grisman, Arlo Guthrie, Glen Campbell, Judy Garland, Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison, and Trampled By Turtles, to name just a few artists who must also find comfort in its quiet reflections.  Here are the lyrics, in case you’re not familiar with this old folk song:

Shenandoah

Oh, Shenandoah, I long to hear you,

Away, you rolling river

Oh, Shenandoah, I long to hear you

Away, I’m bound away, cross the wide Missouri.

Oh, Shenandoah, I love your daughter,

Away, you rolling river

Oh, Shenandoah, I love your daughter

Away, I’m bound away, cross the wide Missouri.

Oh, Shenandoah, I’m bound to leave you,

Away, you rolling river

Oh, Shenandoah, I’m bound to leave you

Away, I’m bound away, cross the wide Missouri.

Oh, Shenandoah, I long to see you,

Away, you rolling river

Oh, Shenandoah, I long to see you

Away, I’m bound away, cross the wide Missouri.

I grew up in Virginia, not terribly far from the Shenandoah Valley and River.  I’ve crossed the Missouri River many times, coming and going from Montana, and this song is always on my mind when I do so.

Last year, I joined Honeydew on his yearly Missouri River paddlefishin’ pilgrimage, in the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge.  And as I said in a blog post outlining the highlights of our weekend, going paddlefishin’ was a choice I would make again.  This year, we chose to camp at the Fred Robinson bridge, right where Highway 191 crosses the wide Missouri, about 75 miles south of Malta, Montana.  There is no cell service.  Heavenly.

We picked up our precious niece and nephew on our way to the wide Missouri.  Honeydew surprised Brother Dear and I with his skill in keeping them entertained during our endless ride east across Montana.  Let’s just say that we left Babb around 9:30am and didn’t cross the wide Missouri until nearly 5pm.  By contrast, Pseudo Sister left Denver at 5am and arrived around 3pm.  No, it doesn’t actually take a full day to drive from Babb to the James Kipp Recreation Area on the Missouri.  But it does when you stop twice at McDonald’s, once at the liquor store, and then take 7 year old and 27 year old males with you to the grocery store in Havre.  Just to name a few stops we made!

This is Honeydew’s best friend’s baby, Tucker.  He is just over a year old and just darling.  Smart, too.  Case in point: he helped us unpack the truck and grabbed the donut holes first.  And no, I don’t normally purchase donut holes.  Or Doritos, mint-fudge-covered-Oreos, blue frosted cookies, Munchies, real Coke, or York Peppermint Patties.  See above, taking 7 year old and 27 year old males with you to the grocery store.

This is Amy, Tucker’s mom/wife of Honeydew’s best friend, giving Tucker a ride through the campground.  Tucker is all boy.  He loves his Tonka truck.  He loves his mama, too.

Our home on the wide Missouri.  Tucker’s dad graciously put up the wall tent for Honeydew, Brother Dear, Pseudo Sister and myself to sleep in.  We felt fairly first class.

This area of the CMR reminds me just a little bit of Savannah, Georgia.  The tall, graceful cottonwoods sway with perfect rhythm and languor in the breeze.

This is Honeydew’s family’s campsite – along with his niece and nephew, his brother,  mom, stepdad, and stepsister joined us, and set up a fantastic campsite, complete with canopy dining area and American Flag.  We’re proud to know ’em.

And here’s Honeydew’s best friend giving Tucker the thrill of his life.  The expression on Tucker’s face matched all of ours when the sun came out on Saturday, and we packed up our gear and coolers and took to the wide Missouri to catch some paddlefish.  More about that later.  Happy Memorial Day!

2010.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

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