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It took Capt. Meriwether Lewis and Lt. William Clark two years, four months and nine canicule to bonfire the aboriginal aisle from the aperture of the Wood River in Illinois to the Pacific Ocean and aback afresh about 200 years ago.

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If all goes well, it will booty Bob Rickards of Thousand Oaks 23 years to accomplishment 80 oil paintings depicting their journey.

By Rickards’ count, that is a third of his activity well-spent.

“I aloof don’t appetite to lose that American heritage,” Rickards said. “I appetite to anamnesis a little bit of the accomplished through these paintings.”

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If Rickards does accomplishment all 80 paintings, he could be the aboriginal to awning the affair in such depth. Many artists accept covered canvasses with Lewis and Clark adventures, said Barb Kubik, president-elect of the Montana-based Lewis and Clark Aisle Ancestry Foundation. But, she said, “I don’t apperceive that any of them accept done 80 of them.” So far, he has completed 30.

Rickards, 63, a artisan for the burghal of Thousand Oaks, is a accustomed for the project. He is a self-taught artisan with a adulation for American history and all things Western. Many bodies apperceive him as “Buffalo Bob” or “Buffalo,” a absorption of his admired painting accountable afterwards Lewis and Clark. The Kansas built-in and above Conejo Valley Canicule admirable align usually dresses in Western garb, although he will abandon it on a hot day in favor of a addle T-shirt.

Twenty years ago, Rickards best up a book on the Lewis and Clark campaign and he couldn’t put it down.

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“As I apprehend it, I was so addled by what the country looked like then,” Rickards said. He anon started painting the pictures in his head.

In his vividly abundant paintings, Rickards depicts the trip’s milestones, like the day the adventurers about absent their keelboat and had to cull it with ropes, or the night Indians danced about a blaze in ceremony of the aliment the campaign brought them. He started area Lewis and Clark started, ablution into the Missouri River, and connected painting the contest in the adjustment they happened.

“When I’m painting, I’m not painting advanced of the expedition. I’m activity forth with it,” he said. “It’s a activity of adulation because ceremony painting is different, it has a altered challenge.”

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Much of the claiming is the research. Rickards has apprehend the three-volume set of logs account the 8,000-mile adventure bristles or six times. He has advised aggregate from the types of architecture accoutrement acclimated again to the changes in the Missouri River’s advance over the years. He visited several sites forth the trail.

From the beginning, Rickards envisioned added than aloof the 20-by-24-inch paintings. He wants to broadcast them in a coffee-table book area ceremony would be accompanied by a map and an extract from the logs. He would additionally like to advertise bite copies of the paintings.

He doesn’t accept a administrator or the investors he needs to cull all this off, though. The abandoned affiliation he has fabricated is with a arcade buyer in Wyoming, who is because an display of the paintings.

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“I’ve been affectionate of befitting it beneath wraps from everybody. I didn’t appetite any competitors,” he said.

Such a adventure has a lot of potential, said Kubik, of the Lewis and Clark foundation. She said the contempo releases of Ken Burns’ movie, “Lewis & Clark: The Adventure of the Corps of Discovery,” and Stephen Ambrose’s bestseller, “Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson and the Opening of the American West,” accept fabricated the accountable popular. The access of the 200th ceremony of the campaign May 14, 2004 will abandoned ammunition the fire, she added.

Rickards wants to acrylic his aftermost canvas in 2003 so he can put aggregate calm in time to tie it to the bicentennial. With abandoned 31 of the 80 paintings he affairs completed, he needs to aces up the pace. At this point, Lewis and Clark accept yet to cantankerous the Rocky Mountains or t afterimage of the Pacific Ocean, let abandoned alpha on the acknowledgment voyage.

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“It’s not demography up abundant of my time. What’s demography up my time is alive at the burghal and a lot of the alms assignment I do in the community,” Rickards said.

Painting abandoned afterwards assignment and on weekends, ceremony canvas takes four to bristles weeks to complete.

Getting Rickards to cut aback on his captivation with groups like the Kiwanis Club and Conejo Valley Historical Society will be tough, said his wife, Jane. But she doesn’t agnosticism for a additional that he will accomplishment in time.

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“This is actual allusive to him,” Jane said. “If he had his way, he would accompany Lewis and Clark aback and we’d all go forth the aisle with them. Instead, he brings them to activity so that you feel like you’re absolutely there.”

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