A Day of Rest?
A Day of Rest
Is there really such a thing as a day of rest anymore? Could a fast paced world go backwards to a time when being with family, going to church and unplugging was a priority?
I don't think our "world" would participate, but... could I? Could I set aside a day every week in which I reset my body and mind and rekindle my relationship with God to a primary relationship instead of a secondary? Worse than that, if I'm being honest... because it's currently, often... a when I think about it relationship, or when I am in need. That's not what I want.
I have the opportunity for the first time in my life to set my schedule my own way... I am ... retired from the work force. Ooo... that felt good, I need to say that again....
I am retired from the workforce.
Now.. I get to build my life my own way.
So far, being the workaholic that I am, I just spent more time on the computer. Always researching, learning, creating, building and on this trip, it has really affected me. I need to slow down. My body started letting me know. Headaches, eyes hurting, backaches... just an overall weariness. Add that to traveling, stresses of said travel, and there was no time to... rest.. recuperate... and worship.
Which is doubly bad, because no one is FORCING me to work. I have no "boss", no set schedule.
I am getting ready to revamp my entire business. I'm going to attempt to fit it around my life instead of the other way around. I miss my children. I miss reading and just staring at a sunset.
After this trip is complete and I actually reach the end of the Oregon Trail... I'll be... beginning again. Things will be a little scary. Unknown. Un- planned. Wide open, I guess...
Can a workaholic in this day and age commit to "not working" for one day a week? No computer. No social media. No creating, note-taking, researching, writing, recording, promoting...
I'll be honest, I'm skeptical. But, always one for a challenge...
I can see the benefits, but habits are hard to change.
One day a week... I can do this right? (I'm actually kind of laughing at myself right now... why am I "dreading" this attempt? Why am I not running at it with both arms open? This may be harder than I thought!)
Yes! I deserve a day of rest.
It was all part of the Master's plan and since I don't have to sacrifice any dead things on any alters, it's the least I can do, right?
The Simple Luxury of a Shower
The Simple Luxury of a Shower
Most people take showers for granted. You turn a knob and things happen. You're in your own, private bathroom and have hot and cold running water that you can adjust to be your perfect temperature.
You can take a quick shower, a long luxurious shower. A stand there and cry shower. Just let the day run off you shower and you may even turn your shower time... into a soaking bath...
I miss that. As much as I love being out here on the road, mingling with nature, living the minimalistic life... boy, do I miss a good shower.
You never know what kind of shower house you'll get when you pull up into a campground. Some are nice, clean and functional. I like those. Others, you have to pour in handfuls of quarters just to get enough warm water to wet your hair. (These are the worst! You're spending half the metered time waiting for the water to even get warm!! Oh! I hate those and will usually pass and just save my quarters and take a hobo bath instead.). Some only give you a small amount of hot water and you have to alternatively rinse- turn off- wash- turn on, rinse, turn off- wash- turn on, rinse, turn off...
I've also been in ones that you don't get to choose a temperature- what comes blasting out at you, is what you get. The water automatically turns off and I've had to stand there and wait for it to build back up again to quickly rinse. Or you run out of hot water completely and have to decide, do I dare rinse in the ice cold, or do I stand here letting the soap dry on my skin and wait for the water to heat back up.
And then there's the "other" things like- no shower curtains, (what is up with that?), showering while side stepping spiders, other people, teeny-tiny showers where you have to squeeze your arms together just to turn, shower heads that barely drip on you and others that have laser focus and can peel your skin off if you stand still for too long... And heaven help you if you forget one little thing. (It doesn't matter WHICH thing, the shampoo, the soap, the towel, a scrubbie, your under-garments... it will ruin an otherwise tolerable shower!)
It's an adventure every time.
Every once in a while you come across a campground that doesn't want to "punish" you for your life's choices.
This one campground in Wyoming, the Sleeping Bear RV Park had bathrooms that... made you feel like home. It was self contained, toilet, sink and shower. Nice light fixtures, beautiful floors, a heating fan, bamboo floor mat to step on when you exit the shower... and you can even rent, big fluffy towels for $1. (Camping people don't usually get big fluffy things, because a) they take up too much space and b) cost too much to wash and dry - so we usually do without the soft, comfy things in exchange for the thin, quick to dry hand towels)
This place made you feel that when you opened up the bathroom door, you would have walked in to someone's home that you were perfectly comfortable being at. (Which is wasn't. It had four of these happy, homey pods set up in the back half of the main office)
Showers are simple things that can not only get you clean, which, let's face it is a necessity. (I wish everyone felt that way about them) but when you are able to just relax and let the water sprinkle down over your head, it releases all kinds of happy endorphins. It' releases stress. It makes you feel... good. And we all want that don't we?
So if you're in habit of taking those quick showers because you're always in a rush to get someplace else... do me a favor, take your time. Let the falling water do it's magical trick and make you a happier human. Don't take your shower for granted... for my sake.
Month 2 Check In
Month 2 Check In
It's hard to believe that I have only been on this adventure for two months! It feels like I've been out here for at least four. I've been spending like it's been four! (#funnynotfunny)
I was supposed to check in around the 11th, so I'm a few days late.
I was whining about gas prices being a whopping $2.54 per gallon and and I was struggling with that. I just had to fill my gas tank at $3.79 per gallon. Having $70 and $80 gas trips are the norm. (and that's probably about half a tank!!). So, that's the biggest change from last month to this.
The second, is the campgrounds. It's getting more difficult to find spaces available. I realize how great camping is and I'm excited that everyone else is finally figuring that out, however... it is leaving very little space for me! Campgrounds in the midwest average in the $20- $30 range... the further west you go, you start at the $33 range and it can go up from there... WAY up. The highest I've seen was $112. PER NIGHT! And that did not come with any thing special. It's crazy. I mean, really crazy. And I didn't budget for that... so I am SO over budget.
I am down to one pair of jeans that don't have rips or tears in them. To be fair, they were old to begin with. Pretty sure I haven't bought a pair of jeans in at least ten years. But I sure have been rough on them! I love my jeans. They are my favorite thing to wear, year round. And out of all the clothes, I packed, I pretty much only wear the same 6 or 7 outfits. So, if you'd like to rub it in that I didn't need all the things I thought I would need, this would be a good place for that... because coming right behind it is the kitchen items.
Turns out, I didn't really need all of those, either. In all fairness, I was supposed to be doing a heck of a lot more cooking! I still have yet to use either of my dutch ovens. The propane stopped working in the camper (yes, there's propane in the tanks), so I have no stove (or hot water for that matter). If I can't heat it up in the microwave, it has to be eaten cold. Or I have a crock pot, so I've been making chili a lot.
So, yeah... all of my mixing bowls and baking tools, pots, pans... just being carried from one place to the next.
Which means my food supply is still in pretty good shape. Since I was ready for the thought of not having much fresh food, I haven't had to go to the store for much. Since I am the worst pioneer ever, I gave up on trying to ONLY do and eat what they did, because I can't cook outside. (Turns out wildfires are a HUGE thing this way and it's no joke. They don't allow any type of out door flames during the summer.)
So, I will probably go home with 90% of my flour and 80% of my beans that were purchased for the trip.
I've eaten out twice this month... if you want to count gas station food. And I have cheated with bottles of Pepsi about 8 times. (In my defense, they sell vanilla Pepsi here, which I can't get in the midwest, so I splurge... plus it helps ease the pain of the gas price I just paid!) Other than that, I just buy my half n half for my coffee. I need to get some veggies here soon. All the produce markets are open and I love me some fresh produce! (And still don't want scurvy.)
The Wildwood Conestoga has really taken a beating for some reason. Do the manufacturers not know that the camper is going to be set up and taken down over and over again? Don't other campers do this? It shouldn't be so fragile! It shouldn't be having so much trouble. It's only a 2017!
So, I've already mentioned my propane tanks. (No hot water, and no cooking flame), now my rear legs won't extend, so I have to figure out how to deal with that. My ball hitch either won't lock onto the ball, or won't let go! So we have this dance every single time in hooking up and unhooking to make the ball hitch fits just right. It's so aggravating!
I rarely use the air conditioning, (that could be the problem) but I had it on yesterday because it was 106 degrees and it whined the whole time... and when I turned it off for the evening, some exhaust fan (somewhere) was blowing and whining... I don't even know.
I've had three flat tires. Two on the trailer and one on Xander. (I had to get four new tires for Xander, because they were all close to going out, so I bit the bullet and did that. Ouch, but I feel safer. I do still have to buy a new spare tire for the camper just in case it happens again.)
The temperatures here are SO hot and dry, and even though I don't speed on the highway, I'm afraid of the tires over-heating or something happening. I've had to call my insurance roadside three times so far on this trip, so I can't imagine what my premium is going to look like next month. Ugh... the price of chasing your dreams.
Let's see, what else... nope, still. no videos. Not gonna happen.
I haven't written the new book either. I'm just so busy taking everything in! Every morning though, just as I am coming into conscience my brain is writing. Not that I can remember by the time I get back to my computer... but it IS up there... so there's hope. I'm thinking that once I am finished with this trip, all the ideas and senses and feelings and characters will come bubbling up.
I've also been thinking about creating a book about the actual trip- talking about what I've learned and sharing some photos... like a more complete and orderly History Revisited on paper... and also a journal/planner for other people who are getting into the camping thing. I really do love this life. (And I will be so sad when I reach the end of this trip. It's all coming too fast. ). But for others just getting started or want to document their trip but don't know how or what to say.. this journal thing might help... that's just an idea though...
So, if you're reading this and are not yet familiar with my writing style, please don't see complaining. (Okay, fine, there might be some, because this life is sometimes hard!). This is mainly documenting. I just like to keep track of stuff and I thought you might want to see the other side of things as well. I'm sorry it's not more scientific... probably why it comes across as complaining, but it's really not.
I am so happy to be doing this. It is such an adventure and I am learning so much. And not just historically speaking! I am learning more about me every day. I've discovered that I'm a lot more afraid than I thought. It's one thing to talk a big game, it's another thing to be out here facing those fears (or side skirting them) on a daily basis.
This is something that will keep me company for years to come. I have SO many pictures to go through and I can't wait to cover my walls with them!
This history and this country is absolutely amazing. I am seeing things I've never seen before and actually seeing and feeling and using all my senses, gives me such a deeper understanding to those pioneers who have traveled this road over a hundred years ago. I am so honored to be. able to do this and be able to write about if for years to come.
In Search of. a Monument
I will do just about anything to see ALL the monuments wherever I am traveling. Caveat to that is if I'm pulling the camper, I can't very well whip over to the side of the road to see the historical marker sign. But if I'm out and about, heck yeah, I want to see them all!
So I have to tell you about my adventure today.
I went out in search of the Oregon Buttes, that the pioneers used to guide them on their way. They could see them for miles and miles and pointed their wagons right at them to help them navigate the South Pass. (This was the only place they could get through the mountains) It was a landmark that way a high priority for them to see, and so it became so for me.
I was GOING to be content, grabbing some picture from a distance, but a woman that was working at the visiter's center of the South Pass City, told me theres a little known road that could get me closer.
I asked, "Are there signs?"
She said, "Yeah, I mean, you'll have to look for them and then there's a monument..."
There it was... I had to do it.
So I take off down this dirt road... I can see them... WAY off in the distance... I could have been, should have been happy with that... nope. There's a monument.
Make a left at the highway. Once you pass the rest area and cross over the Sweetwater River, you'll make a left.
Uh... no signs.... I go a little further, cross the Continental Divide... Now I KNOW I missed it.
Turns out the only sign of any kind, is a street sign. So, I head down the gravel road in search for the monument.
It said it would be about 10 miles, so I knew to be patient. I was only going about 30 mph, and the roads twisted and turned every which way, uphill, down hill... and I could see the buttes in the distance, getting closer, and closer...
I am snapping pictures left and right, because I just can't wrap my head around all this beauty. It's just breath taking. I'm stopping, taking pictures, inch forward...
I'm getting some really amazing shots of these buttes and then the gravel road turns to a dirt road. Pause. Do I go? Do I turn back? There is literally. NOTHING out here. No humans, no other vehicles, no phones, gas stations, or cell service.
Maybe the monument is at the base of the buttes? That's how it's been at all the other places... I keep going and then, suddenly there's a heard of pronghorn antelope! I've been waiting my whole trip to see these!!
I finally decide to stop and turn around and am looking for a safe place to do this. This road is NARROW! So I slow down even more and then around the next bend, is some of the most beautiful scenery!! I know I keep saying that, but in my head, I can't understand how the next curve can be more beautiful than the last curve!
And then I think.... NO ONE gets to see this! This stuff, right here... this is like a private show! I am literally in awe, I can't even describe it.
I had to upgrade my cloud storage after this trip!!
Okay, okay, let me fast forward, so the dirt road eventually PASSES where the base of the buttes would have. been. (I never got to the base, but the road I was on. was now veering away from them all together. I had to turn around... no really, i mean it this time. So, reluctantly, I did.
I drove a few feet and a pack of wild horses WITH A BABY runs across the road in front of me!! Omigoodness! It was so ... so.... I couldn't get out my camera fast enough. I did get some, but... again... this was just for me.
I had to give up the monument, and while I might have been disappointed for maybe a minute, so many other things made this side trip SO worth it!! The views, the scenery- these mountains were painted!!! They had blue and red and peach colored stripes!! My God, is an awesome God. And they are hidden back here along a long, long (LONG) dirt road. I feel so very priviledged. (I will be sharing many of the photos in the History Revisited facebook group if you're curious.
On the way back, after getting back to the gravel, I look to my left and down this tiny little dirt driveway, is a stand. I start cracking up laughing. Is that my monument???? I whip the truck and pull up next to it. There it was... my monument/plaque to let me know how important the Oregon Buttes were to the pioneers.
And to think... if I HAD found the monument when other normal people would have... I would have missed the whole show.
And if just this story alone, doesn't have you believing in miracles and that He watches every step... then here's the rest of the story.
When I'm almost home, a warning light pops up on my dash. I can't do anything right now, so I go straight back to the campground to look it up. Tire pressure.
I'm so tired and worn out from this trip, but decide to go check it out, because I have another long drive tomorrow.
My rear tire on the driver's side is FLAT. Not low... F. L. A.T.
I call the good folks at the Roadside Service, I pay lots of money to every year and they send a guy out. Fixed. No problem.
But- IF that tire would have gone flat out there on that dirt road... I would have been in serious trouble. There was no phone signal. There were no cars passing by. There was nothing.
I am so thankful that God was watching over me and got me safely home. I do believe in miracles because I witness them on a regular basis, this time, today, they were happening to me.
The Halfway Point
The Pioneers traveling the Oregon Trail from the 1840s - the 1860s didn't have GPS and for those early trips, they barely had maps!
What they did have are mile markers. No, not the ones we have today along side the highway, but they had all natural landmarks that they could use to guage their direction, how far they've come and to help others that come along behind them.
Just like being at Ft. Laramie on the fourth of July was an important date for me, reaching some of these other landmarks were equally worth celebrating.
The halfway point for the Oregon Trail, is agreed upon my most to be Independence Rock.
This spot is in the middle of nothingness of Wyoming. There are huge, beautiful bluffs and buttes pushing up from the ground and settling in with such character and raw elegance, but then there's this one, that kind of sets out on it's own. It's somewhat smooth and if you look at it in just the right way, it resembles an elephant that lay down to take a nap. You can only see it's back, but it's unmistakable.
And... I have reached it.
So, the folks that decided to name this beast Independence Rock, did so because it's where THEY decided to stop to celebrate the birth of our nation. which means they completely missed out on all the fun at Ft. Laramie, but... who am I to judge? Lol.
This became a signature point as well. This rock, however is hard granite, so unless they were willing to get out the tools to carve their name in deep, most just fell back on grease to paint their name. Sadly, most of those have washed away from the weather and time. There is an interesting collection of names still visible at one end of the rock which has since been protected with fencing, and plaques have been hung here as well.
It's SO cool to see, I still get goosebumps writing about it.
I was going to climb to the top, but was only wearing my flip-flops. Not good climbing shoes. Although, if it was cool enough a barefoot climb would have been possible. It was not, however cool enough.
And I found out later that there are a ton more names carved on top. Had I known that then, I probably would have made a greater effort to dig out my tennis shoes.
In spite of that, here I am... at the halfway point. My trip to Oregon is half over. I am both excited and quite sad. It always just seem to go so fast, even though I'm striving to make distance, I don't want it to be over.
I know that most of the time it looks like I'm flying by the seat of my pants, but I promise you... a lot of work and research goes into this adventure!
I know that my timeline won't match up perfectly as the many wagon trains following the Oregon Trail, the California Trail and even the Mormon Trail had their own agenda... but everyone, at some point stopped at Fort Laramie in Wyoming. And give or take, the landed here the first or second week of July.
Many of the diary entries and journal entries I read talked about being there to celebrate Indepenedence Day... I had to be there for that AND- I DID IT!!!
There is just something SO amazing about walking INTO history, like literally intersecting yourself be it time or place, touching, standing on or near things that reflect where we've come from.
I am emotionally moved when I stand on hallowed ground. I am sensitive to the lives that came before me and to those who gave their lives on the same ground that I now walk on. It's not lost to me.
On the 4th of July- I was at Fort Laramie.
The days prior to and maybe a day after, the pioneers allowed themselves time to pause. And when I say pause, that doesn't mean they laid around all day- I'm not even sure they knew how to do that!
The women aired out the wagons, did laundry and prepared pies, cakes and cookies to share with others.
The men bought much needed supplies at the fort, made any repairs, purchased or traded livestock...
During "my" pioneer time (1840s- 1850s) Fort Laramie was not yet a military base. It was a fur trading fort and the pioneers would see many teepees set up around the fort with Native American families that were there to trade as well. I'm quite sure they were not as excited about the Independence Day celebrations as other were- or maybe they didn't know and just enjoyed the music and festivities.
So- I made cookies from an original pioneer recipe!! It was originally meant to be baked over coals, but since there are still no campfires allowed, I had to find an oven version. They turned out really, really good. I shared them with my camping neighbors and campground host and ... well...they may not have known WHY they were getting odd shaped cookies with almonds and pumpkins seeds...but they accepted them just the same.
And no, I am not dressed in pioneer garb. It's just me doin' my modern day trip back into history. I get enough looks from being a six foot tall redhead, I don't need any more attention, thank you very much.
But I did my historical celebrating on my own- I take that back. I shared my activities with the History Revisited group and they seemed to have a good time as well. No cookies for them, but I did share the recipe. Lol!
I did miss my traditional Fourth celebrations of bbq and fireworks and family, but there was a rebel family just close enough that shot off a few so I could see them in the distance. I'll have to wait on a grilled steak.
I am only days away from not only the half way point (Independence Rock) but also crossing over into Idaho and the South Pass. This is the point in history, the groups all said their final goodbyes, most never seeing each other again. California went one way, Oregon went the other.
There's still so much to see and I'm just as excited now as when I first began.
We need to talk.
I have only been here for three days and you have sent me a plague of black biting flies- enough to make me think there was a filming of the Exorcist in the area. (Covering my screen door!) A vicious storm that almost knocked me off my blocks, extreme temperatures of 100 during the day and sixties at night, dust that covers everything... but last night...
...last night, you out did yourself.
I am not afraid of bugs... it is what it is, we share space and all I ask that they don't crawl on me and we can all get along. (with the exception of ants, roaches & mosquitos... anything in thier family lineage should be exterminated... )
Oakley, my cat, however doesn't abide by this rule and therefore feels it's her duty to rid the house of extra, uninvited guests... I'm on board with that.
So our first couple days here, we've had a moth or two bouncing of the walls and ceiling and I let the cat do her thing. Last night, we had three, so I stepped in with the fly swatter to escort them outside.
THEN- we get hit with a storm, so I have to shut up the house... and out of nowhere... four moths show up. So I'm after them with the fly swatter. They come to a swift and timely end... but then two more show up... then two more... then three more... I have no idea where they are coming from.
My little Wildwood Conestoga (my camper) is rocking back and forth because of the storm going on outside and I'm getting attacked by flying creatures in my home! All the windows are shut. Door is shut and yet they keep coming!
Finally! I think I got them all... by this time, it was at least 15. So I decide to get ready for bed and am fluffing the pillows and arranging the blankets and what not (because who knows how cold it's going to get!). And suddenly 10 or so more moths fly out from my blankets!!
They are bonking off the walls and lights and my head... the cat is going berserk, she's chirping and growling (so cute if I wasn't swinging the swatter for my life!!!)... they are literally everywhere! The count is at least up to 30!
I go back in to refluff the pillows and even more fly out!! Where are they coming from????? Swinging and smashing! Swinging and smashing!! It's ridiculous!!
I refluff... nothing.
I turn out the main light, because its like...midnight now... and turn on my reading light to wind down.
Settling in I feel something crawling in my hair.
RULE NUMBER ONE!!! DON'T CRAWL ON ME!!
I'm up, out of my bed swinging again as two more appeared... and died.
This process happens- I'm not even exaggerating- THREE more times. I think I've killed off the entire population of Wyoming moths and then more show up.
I am baffled. I still have no idea where they came from or how long they'd been there.... or if more are hiding...
I finally had to turn off all the lights except a nightlight that I put at the other end of the camper, faaaar away from me... I covered my head and finally went to bed. For the rest of the night, I could hear my cat chirping and trying to jump up walls attempting to save us during her night vigil.
This morning, she was passed out at the end of the bed and she allowed us to sleep in... only slightly.
Wyoming... I've been waiting a long time to get here. I've heard that this is a place that is not for the weak of heart, but no one ever said anything about moth attacks. NO ONE!!! Even google is confused.
So- I see how this is going to play out...
I see you, Wyoming... I feel you...
*rolls up sleeves*
Bring it on.
You know when you were a kid and you had to walk places... and there was always this one kid in the group that had a bicycle? And while you're walking with your friends or even by yourself, your bicycle friend makes big circles around you, zooming ahead for a couple minutes then circling back around. Wobbling the handlebars side to side to keep balance... anything to keep the bike upright, so you didn't have to walk...
I feel like I'm that kid to my pioneer self. I push ahead in bursts and then do wide circles around where the "original" wagon train might be. I can go waaaay back and grab something, circle around and then go waaay east see something and come back to the timeline...
As much as I am loving seeing all the things the pioneers saw and experiencing it as far as sights, smells, flora and fauna... I have time to kill for them to "catch-up"
Right now, I'm so close to the Wyoming border and this next move is going to put me into it! That is SO exciting. This is pivotal to my pioneer self because one, it's a change in the geography... they only THINK things were difficult thus far and two, it signifies the halfway point...it's hard to believe that my trip is almost half over!! And then three, their celebration of Independence Day. It was an important day to them. While the majority strove to reach Fort Laramie for that event, (which I'm using as my marker), many of them would stop the trains for the day, just to celebrate. The women, who had been saving the last of their sugar and maybe candies or dried fruits would bake cakes and pies for the special day. I'd like to do that too.
But in the mean time... I'm still way ahead of schedule.
So this past week, I discovered that not only am I close to the Wyoming border, Colorado is just a hop skip and a bike ride over one way, and South Dakota is north the other way!
I went to Julesburg, CO for the afternoon and it turned out to be a most pleasant day. There's a lot of history tucked into that little corner of the state. It was the only place that the Pony Express stopped in that state. (Just like me! Boop! Touched the corner!)
And the little town had to relocate three different times before it could finally settle in it's forever spot.
I toured the museum and talked with the locals and just over all had a nice day. I love a small town anyway, so it was easy for me to find amusement.
A couple days later I headed up to South Dakota. I stopped at the memorial for Wounded Knee and I don't know what I was expecting, really... a monument... a garden, something... I don't know. But there was only a giant sign that told the briefest of brief history on the site. There was a small parking lot and in one car, a man sat waiting for the opportunity to sell his beaded dream-catchers. (They were beautiful and I probably would have bought one, but I had zero cash!). and then, while I was reading, there was a drive-by hawker. An older woman drove up next to me and rolled down her window... "Hey," she said. "You want to buy some earrings?" I couldn't help but laugh. I didn't mean to, but just oddity of it all. She peeks a package just barely over the window frame of her car, "I've got some right here. You want to buy them?" Still giggling, I pulled back my hair and showed her, "I don't wear earrings, I'm sorry." She shrugged her shoulders and drove off...
That was weird.
Other than that... when left alone with my thoughts and my feet touching the earth, it was very heavy... there really was a sadness over the area. It was an open field and you could see the rolling "sandhills" in the distance, with a few buttes pushing up the landscape, but the air was very still.
There was a graveyard up the hill and I decided to drive up there, but I was struck before entering with, I'm not sure if it was fear, or reverence or a combination, but I couldn't go in. I don't know if these sites were from Wounded Knee or if they are from the local tribes, but some were very old and others looked new. I saw sleeping bags and mattresses tucked around some of the tombstones... there were strips of cloth tied to a fence that separated the center section of graves from others. It wasn't kept up. The grass was over-grown, and the fence around the whole thing was damaged. It was just a sad place. Not that graveyards are ever happy places, but this just exuded sadness from every blade of grass to every pebble of dirt. It took a few miles, once I drove away to shake it off me. But even now, as I write about it, I can feel the weight of it in my chest.
On to happier things though... as I drove, the landscape began to change. Suddenly I went from miles and miles of farm land or cattle pasture to these, I don't know... cliffs, mini mountains?? They looked like they could be made of sand or dirt... some looked as if God stuck his thumb under the earth and pushed up a chunk of it to see what would happen. It was such a stark contrast to the flat prairie.
Then they happened more often... then these hills and buttes became groupings... and finally, a full wall appeared with the tiniest road leading me to them... I entered into the "Interior" of the Badlands National Park.
If you have never been here, I would urge you to add it to your bucket list. This park which is less than 300,000 acres is beyond explination. Just when you think you've found the words to describe the majesty you're seeing, you round another bend and it looks completely different. Same, but different.
I really forgot to read the signs that were posted everywhere, I meant to, honestly, but there was just so much beauty and I couldn't stop staing. I took a billion and one photos and while they too, are beautiful, they just don't do it justice.
Add it to your list... trust me. It's raw beauty, and I'd hate for you to miss it.
My GPS threw a fit and decided to take me back the LONG way home (I haven't figured out yet how to argue with my GPS... I just have to trust it, which I really don't like...).
It was an extra hour to my trip, which the only thing that bothered me about that was having to buy the gas which is really expensive here and the budget keeps getting tighter and tighter. But it was a truly beautiful drive. I got some amazing photos.
I'm out there alone, driving on this two-lane highway surrounded by beauty. I had the freedom to stop right there on the road, snap my pictures and continue on. No, I do not recommend this practice, nor the one where I'm still driving, but snapping pictures out my window... but, I was all alone. No one was there to tell me not to... (That's my story and I'm sticking to it!)
I arrived in Independence, MO on May 7th and I count as “jumping onto the trail” on May 13- so here I am 34 days in…
In the spirit of transparency- I totally ran out of fruit and vegetables. I have some dried fruit that I add to my granola, but I had nothing fresh.
Now, I just so happened to be researching an episode on scurvy. This is one disease that scares me! It's preventable until....
If you don't get enough fresh food; veggies, fruit, especially vitamin C, You could contract it and don't KNOW you have it until your gums start bleeding, and by that time its too late... you've got one foot in the grave! So I freaked out a little bit and binge bought some produce. Oranges, lemons, pineapple, lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes.... let's just say that my little RV fridge was PACKED!!
I have been eating it frugally to make it last, and it may sound silly, but I feel so much better just knowing I have some! Lol! Sometimes knowledge is dangerous!
I am almost out of my half and half that I use for my coffee. I have half dozen eggs left and I am really really sad about running out of them. They are a staple food in my diet.
I have only eaten one pound of my 25 pound supply bacon, so I should be good there. And I have 4 pounds of hamburger that's frozen- so I'm saving that. (They had to kill the cows last! Lol!)
I have yet to tap into most of my dry goods purchased specifically for my journey- I broke into a new coffee and sugar. I'm still sparingly working through what I had already before I came to MO and I am over budget by $117. I blame that on my Memorial Day blunder and gas prices have jumped to over the $3 mark. I really wasn't anticipating campgrounds to be so expensive either.
For Nebraska, and Wyoming (which is coming next week), they have an EXTRA fee to be able to use their parks for camping, or the national and state landmarks and what not. For Nebraska, it was "only" $48 for the year,or $8/day... For Wyoming, it's almost $100/annual! And you'd need a pass for everything I want to visit while I'm going through their state! I was not expecting that, and it's gonna set me back.
I realized that the original pioneers coffee was still in bean form so when THEY brought 15 pounds of it, it was heavier… but when I bring 15 pounds of it already ground… I think it should last me well into the winter! Oregon and beyond! Plus there’s the time bonus! I don’t have to roast mine, then grind, then brew… I just scoop. I’m so spoiled! Coffee was also a longer lasting item for them as well. It was one of the last reminders of their “civilized life” and they made it last well after the food supply ran out.
A replacement for coffee along the trail as suggested by Randolph Macy was dried horsemint. I’d be willing to try it. There's actually a couple different recipes for coffee substitutes that I'm curious about. (Acorns??)
I keep “waiting” to get away from population so I can perform all the experiments that I have on my list, but I guess I need to settle into the idea that people really are everywhere and I’m just going to have to do these things under the scrupulous eyes of onlookers. Let them judge as they may.
I am still excited about trying all my recipes, Do I think I’ll run out of anything? Maybe sugar… that’s my first guess. Lol
I think my issue will be that I will get bored with my fare.
I’m not a fan of bread in general, and the thought of eating some form of it every single day is not exciting to me, but, it probably wasn’t to them either… at least I have refrigeration and don’t have to pick the worms off my bacon before I eat it! Lol
So things I have to decide… do I cheat and get more creamer or do I wait until their next opportunity they would have had to purchase supplies.
And “technically” I could have brought a cow with me, so I would have a steady supply of cream and milk… yes, I think I’ll go with that story because I have a recipe for ice cream they made on the trail which is the ONLY way I’m going to survive if I come across snow…
I am really learning so much on this trip. I have read stories and I read regularly now from their letters and journal entries and what a difference it makes! I can now see what they saw. I feel what they felt. When the talk about the fierce winds and how it whipped up dust- I am literally feeling it! It's surreal!
And when they talk about passing certain landmarks, I get downright giddy when I have passed them too. They are always on my mind. I am always thinking about how they would have thought or felt or reacted to things.
Today, for example, the temperatures reached 104 degrees. No joke and it's only June. It's extra hot these days, I believe because of the black pavement, but we can always escape the weather. I am always safe.
I chose not to use air conditioning most days- I just don't like it- but even I had to turn it on so my cat would cook to death. I'll admit, it even got hot for me... but the winds do an amazing job of keeping the heat level down, so if they could find shade so they weren't in direct sunlight, it would have been hard, but doable... and here's where I KNOW where they are on their journey and I know the trees are starting to thin out so there's not much shade... and I know they are getting ready to enter mountain territory.
Which reminds me... with the prices so high, I might have to switch to boondocking here soon... little concerned about that, but I'll ford that stream when I get there...
I have used some of my propane to take a shower or two and wash dishes. I'm in a bare-bones campground so... I'm not sure how fast propane burns through, I've never really used it before, so I'll have to keep an eye on that. I'm told it will cost about $25 to refill at any Lowes or Walmart.
I also need to purchase and fill a couple gas cans- everyone I talk to says to NOT go to Wyoming, pulling a camper without at least one five gallon gas can. So... there's that...
And since I'm at it, if I do have to boondock, I found a solar powered generator that will charge my phone and laptop that's not too expensive. I'm hoping it will run a fan as well... again, so the cat doesn't die of heat stroke. I'd rather not die either, if I'm being honest. I mean, how embarrassing would that be if I literally died, on the Oregon Trail?
As far as speed... I am still WAY ahead of my pioneer self. I am tracking to be in Fort Laramie,WY for the 4th of July. It's sad to me that technically there IS no more FORT Laramie, just a tiny town and that they will probably not be doing anything super special for Independence Day... but I'll know.
This is the time I'm "allowed" to restock on any supplies, eat some ice cream, cake, maybe even a pie... have some sarsaparilla, dance and relax for a couple days.
And lastly- my writing. I have not written anything on the new book that is due out this year. The Bag of Bones Podcast research, writing, editing and recording then promoting... take SO much time. SO much... plus I've taken a few hits this year and I am struggling to get past over or through those... it's really affected my creative side... it troubles me, which doesn't help matters. I believe it will work itself out and I'll be back to my happy writing self in no time. Fingers crossed...
A New Reverence for Nebraska
I had never really been to or through Nebraska, or at least not anything my memories can really pull up, but I do recall people warning me about crossing it that it would be dull, flat and nothing but crops.
There is some flat. There are lots of crops. But there is so much more! If I was looking at the landscape as someone just trying to get from one end to the other I could see that it might get a bit mundane. But when you change your perspective, and see it through the eyes of the Oregon Trail pioneers, it looks completely different.
By the time they hit the Nebraska border (and I'm going to use modern day borders as reference points) they were just finally figuring out the nuances of their frontier routine.
Waking early, the women were packing up their items; tents, bedding; utensils, making breakfast then quickly washing the dishes and putting the "extra" food away for a cold lunch at mid-day.
The men were rounding up the livestock, yoking the team and hooking them back up to the wagons, conferring with the other members of the train as to the day's events...
Rinse and repeat.
Water and wood were plentiful. The livestock had plenty of grasses to feed on, and game such as buffalo and antelope, rabbit and deer could be secured weekly.
In the evenings, hopefully getting in about 15 to 20 miles they stop for the night. It's plenty of daylight to still get any tents set up, unhook the teams and additional horses and livestock so they can graze. Cook and eat dinner with some time to spare for gathering, singing, music and writing.
As they continued on, the landscape would begin to change. The Platte River as their constant companion would guide them along the way.
The wind is fierce as there are no barriers to protect them or interrupt it's bluster.
Storms with piercing rain can appear with little to no warning and lightning puts on a show- sometimes turning deadly.
The earlier generations of overland pioneers had plenty of water and grass, but those that followed after thousands had decided to head west, the supplies began to become sparse and other trails, cut-offs and routes had to be initiated.
The waterways became polluted and the grasses were razed to dust.
And as many people do, in a land of plenty, they take more than they need, they leave the rest behind, they use and abuse, not thinking of who may be coming after or that there would be anything but... plenty.
The landscape showed change now getting just past the "halfway mark" of the state. The hills got a little more steep, you could be walking along and come across a huge crater where the land just seemed to collapse and they would have to find their way around that. Sometimes taking them many days away from their water source.
Huge sandstone boulders would begin to jut up from the ground and tower above them and create landmarks far off in the distance.
They would write home to their families about some uniquely shaped mountains and this served as points to look for in wagon trains to come. Many of these locations had been used for years and years prior to the Overlanders by the Native Americans, fur traders and military. (Here is where you would find the legendary Chimney Rock, Courthouse Rock, and Scott's Bluff)
The soft ground they had grown used to transformed into a rocky terrain. The grasses and trees became more sparse and the water which had given them refreshment was about to turn away, giving them just the tiniest glimpse of what was to come.
If they had minimal struggle so far, they could consider themselves quite blessed as everyday, from this point forward... would be a challenge.
And this is how I see Nebraska. In our modern times, we have paved highways (many following the exact Oregon Trail routes!) so I never have to worry about discomfort. We have miles and miles of crops which has changed the scenery somewhat, but is truly beautiful in it's own way. Not a buffalo is seen anywhere in the wild any more and the Platte River has flowed along beside me like a constant friend.
I am almost to the edge of Nebraska and so excited to step into Wyoming!
And oh! What the pioneers face next!
Follow Elizabeth on Facebook!