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May 4, 1861: Nacimiento River

May 5, 2011

Nacimiento River 01

Nacimiento River valley near confluence with Salinas River (3-4 miles downstream from Brewer's camp); by Tom Hilton, on Flickr


Camp 28

It is a lovely afternoon, intensely hot in the sun, but a wind cools the air. A belt of trees skirts the river. I have retreated to a shady nook by the water, alike out of the sun and wind; a fine, clear, swift stream passes within a few rods of camp, a belt of timber a fourth of a mile wide skirts it—huge cottonwoods and sycamores, with an undergrowth of willows and other shrubs. We have been here three days.

Rest Area 01

Rest area on US 101, near Nacimiento River; by Tom Hilton, on Fllickr

I returned from a long walk at noon and concluded to devote the afternoon to writing and “chores.” First, dinner; next, put on clean clothes and wash my dirty ones. A few buttons sewn on, and rents repaired; then the garments lay in the water to soak while I wrote a letter of three sheets to headquarters, during which time a flock of sheep trod my shirts into the mud. Then the wash, that I so much abominate. But clothes must be cleansed, and there is no woman to do it. Were I to describe the abominable operation it would take a whole letter. I can’t do it—just some items only. First, I get a place on the bank and begin. A huge gust scatters sand over the wet clothes, which are in a pile on the bank. Stockings are washed—I congratulate myself on how well I have done it. An undershirt is begun—goes on swimmingly. Suddenly the sand close to the water where I squat gives way. I go in, half boot deep, and in the strife to
Gold Nuggets 04

Calochortus luteus; by Tom Hilton, on Flickr


get out, tread on the clean stockings and shove them three inches into the mud and sand. A stick is got and laid close to the water. On that I kneel, as do the Mexican and Indian washerwomen. This goes better, and the work goes bravely on. Next, the slippery soap glides out of my hands and into the deep water—here a long delay in poking it out with a long stick, during which performance it goes every way except toward shore. At last the final garment is washed. With a long breath I rise to leave, when I find the lowest of the clean pile is all dirty from the log I laid them on—the cleanest place I could find. But soon all difficulties are surmounted, and the clothes are now fluttering in the wind, suspended from one of the guy ropes of our tent. The picture is underdrawn rather than exaggerated—just try it by taking your clothes to the creek to wash the next time.

jones' bush mallow - malacothamnus jonesii

Malacothamnus jonesii; by randomtruth, on Flickr

Specimens collected May 1-4: Clarkia speciosa subsp. speciosa; Calochortus luteus; Lotus procumbens var. procumbens; Juncus mexicanus; Scirpus americanus; Anemopsis californica; Agoseris heterophylla var. heterophylla; Carex barbarae; Eriogonum fasciculatum var. polifolium; Chorizanthe membranacea; Emmenanthe penduliflora var. penduliflora; Mimulus guttatus; Pterostegia drymarioides; Acer negundo var. arizonicum; Calochortus venustus; Deinandra pentactis; Chaenactis glabriuscula var. lanosa; Sidalcea diploscypha; Salix exigua; Rosa californica; Gilia tenuiflora; Lasthenia leptalea; Nemacladus secundiflorus; Prunus ilicifolia; Malacothamnus jonesii; Allium crispum.

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