Dear Meriwether Lewis:

You gave me a gift.

Maybe several.

Inspiration. You lent me your voice. Your story. You let me imagine what you might do if you had more time. Your men looked to you as a father, but you let me imagine how you might father a lost little girl. You didn’t disappoint me.

Fortitude. You gave me the strength to not give up, even when I stood on the side of the road and screamed, “I quit! I quit! I quit!” into a Mississippi swamp. When I couldn’t feel my fingers, when I wished I could cut off my toes.

Connection. You led some of Clark’s descendants to find me, as I stumbled through an open field. “Lewis was murdered!” We found connection in that thought, common ground in that idea. The wind roared in unison with our shared belief in you. Maybe that WAS you.

You left me a nickel along the white line of the Natchez Trace. Tails-up, with “Ocean in view! O! The Joy!” urging me on. I picked it up, and it will stay with me. Maybe you didn’t know I had been carrying the same nickel. Thirty days, it rode in my backpack on its pilgrimage to your grave. I left it there.

For you.

May my efforts make the masses understand the man you truly were.


lewis nickel

Click here to see the best photos from Day 31 of my Natchez Trace 444-mile walk: Andra Watkins Tumblr

Some people read my novel in a day. Beat me to the finish line. To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis is available in paperback and e-book formats at these outlets: Click to Purchase To Live Forever.

Here’s today’s Reader Question. I’m flattered, but NO.

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