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...
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!
I know, I know, I said I was going to video all this amazing stuff, but I just can't wrap my head around it, so it's going to have to be photos. Best I can do, for right now until I get a "team" that I can hand off the editing and uploading process to.
I have put off these new recipe challenges for a time because of that- well, that and other things, like... fear. Which is silly, because, if it doesn't work out, I can just try again... these are things I have to remind my perfectionist self, because it's afraid of being embarrassed. #truth
But I purchased all of the supplies the pioneers had on their list, so I had better get to it.
I found a few bread recipes that I'd like to start with. Bread was a staple for them. The women made it almost every day. They sometimes were able to make thicker, more stout bread that would last longer and when supplies got low, they would scale back to "hard tack".
Hard Tack was a thick cracker that goes way, way back. It's pretty tasteless and was mainly used to thicken soups or be soaked up in beer or broth to make the... whatever... more filling. So supplies would last longer.
Yes, I'll make hard tack, but since I know I won't eat it the way the original recipe was made, I found a few tweaks that might make it palatable.
There's various forms of corn bread (some used it as in addition to a main meal- like with beans, and others used it AS the meal by adding bacon or ham or sometimes dried veggies to it.)
Biscuits. And fried breads. All on my list.
I found that I am missing a few things before I can use my cast iron dutch ovens... for instance, I have no way to remove the hot lid. I have nothing to redistribute hot coals... I knew that I wanted to cook outside... I guess just actually acquiring the dutch ovens was exciting enough that I didn't really think past that! Lol!
So when I get back into civilazaton, I will snag those few missing articles. In the meantime, I am mesmerized with YouTube videos and the like and can't wait to get started. Watch for the videos!!
Ha- just kidding... plenty of photos though!! Lol!
I was taught to "leave things better than you've found it." And my mother was/is a huge advocate for "be respectful of others". And when looking out into the world and intermingling with other humans, I forget that not everyone had the same amazing momma as I did.
I try never to travel on the weekends as there seems to be heavier traffic and people get upset if I don't want to go 75 on the highway dragging my camper. (Now if it was just me and Xander - my truck- I'd be all over it!)
So, that usually leaves me in campgrounds over the weekend.
Normally, I don't mind. I love hearing the kids squealing in the cold water and playing into the sunset. I love seeing that families are spending time together. I love the smell of a good campfire and grilling of their fresh catch of the day. I love that people still appreciate nature... sort of... and that "camping" is still a thing that is sure a tradition that will carry on into the future.
This weekend, there was such little regard for others and zero respect for the grounds and the nature around it. It just makes me so sad. Who taught you that this is okay?
There was trash, broken bottles and cigarette butts all over the place. People left their wrappers for the brand new floaty devices all over the beach.
People drove through the campgrounds- despite there being signs, despite the children running around- too fast or in the wrong direction! Would it take SO much time out of your life, just to follow the rules?
While I was out walking a vehicle sped past me and kicked up all kinds of rock dust, but also shot a rock out that hit me in my leg. That sucker hurt! I have a lovely purple bruise commemorating the moment and a regular reminder, every time I accidentally bump it, about that rude human.
If you want to play music at your campsite, that's fine. But don't assume everyone else needs to hear it. And, in the same instance, if you are in a neighboring campsite and the music is not to your liking, is it REALLY necessary to play YOUR genre even louder?
The bathroom... oh... please... just... can't you just... you know, be considerate of others? Or at the very least take responsibility for yourself and don't assume that it's someone else's job to come along after you and clean things up.
And please... keep an eye on your children and pets. Neither are meant to be left in a vehicle while you go out and play. No other explanation should be necessary. And if you keep your pets on a leash or lead, there would be no need to scream and yell obscenities at them because they are not staying in the invisible parameter of your space.
All of these things, state parks especially, are here for your enjoyment. Please stop doing the things that will make the state parks decide that it's just not worth it anymore.
We all have different ideas of what we want to experience in our campground vacations and we all have a different idea of what a good time is. Please! Go camping! Have a good time! Create awesome memories for your children and yourselves- but don't rob others of theirs.
Please don't make my state parks unsafe for me, I would just be so sad.
Consider this a public service announcement.
-Pick up your trash.
-Respect others and their space and property.
-Take care of your littles, furry and otherwise.
-Leave things better than you find it.
And our state parks will be here for years and years to come.
Rant over. Have an amazingly beautiful day.
At this phase of my journey, and I'm trying to run parallel with those who made the trip (1842-1845), they are still pretty content with their decisions to head west.
They might have experienced some rain, which would have been dreadful any way you look at it. If you were male, you were definitely outside, walking the team. Your clothes would be soaked, the mud would have been thick and hard to trudge through. If there was lightning, and thunder, they would have had to keep the livestock calm and moving forward.
Inside the wagon wouldn't have been much better. The women and the children would have ridden inside if the wagon train had to keep moving- which 90% of the time, they did.
Inside the wagon was cramped to say the least. Not a lot of space was given to comfort in lieu of bringing extra supplies and... stuff. It's amazing how much we value... stuff. Even me, I down-sized to a quarter of what I had in my last camper and looking around, I still have so much excess! I might need it later... lol. I guess we'll see.
The canvas that covered all the stuff, was protecting it as best it could, but at the time, they didn't have a lot of treatments to help keep out the water, and those that they DID have, were not common knowledge to the common folk. (Plus they didn't have YouTube... )
So the inside would not only be cramped, but if you so much as touched the canvas, it would "break the seal" and begin dripping on your dry goods. Plus the smell. The first rain, probably fine... but every rain after that, would begin to smell musty and moldy. And if the flaps are closed at both ends, that hot CO2 and musty stench, makes an uncomfortable combination.
But, like I said, at this point, they were still happy go-lucky campers off on adventure.
But they had NO idea of what was coming.
Since I chose the early years, everything will still pretty much unknown. They really only had one- maybe two?- books on the subject and letters from those who had made the full journey had only just begun to trickle in. But were not accessible to everyone. (No face book!) Letters were shared, and sometimes printed to share news with everyone. (Narcissa Whitman's letters got all the women believing the trip would be lovely!)
I have tried not to read TOO far ahead or schedule things way in advance because I too, want to see and experience things for the first time. But I DO know that hardships are coming. And it's true, I don't HAVE to face them, but there are some that I want to make it through the experiment. Like the food, for example. I bought most of the items on their list that should have sustained them for the entire journey, with a few exceptions along the way. (They would be able to hunt for meat, and fish - let the records show I have ZERO intentions of doing either- and they could pick up a few supplies from four different forts along the way. (Fort Kearney was built AFTER "my" trip- so that's already passed.)
I have 24 pounds of bacon that I haven't touched yet. I'm afraid of tapping into it! I'm "afraid" that I might run out. The stories that I have read, many had to live on coffee and morsels of bread, most of the cows had stopped producing milk, no one had fresh food, and little to no ammo to go hunting.
I can't UNknow these things, and so I eat sparingly... (It's weird, because I'm actually GAINING weight because, my body already assumes that I'm starving and so its gone into self- protection mode. My modern self is none to happy with this.)
I do have the modern conveniences of a freezer and a non-leaky canvas roof, so I can be certain that my dry foods will all stay dry. Plus, I have modern storage too, so I won't have the extra "protein" of little boll weevils, either. I KNOW that I won't starve. But I think it's interesting, that my brain is thinking that it might be a possibility. (I find that really cool. Because it knows what's coming. And it's only point of reference is times of peril. )
I have pulled out my first one pound package of bacon... it has begun.
I am a workaholic...
When I sit down at my computer, you can plan on me being there for quite some time. Not on purpose, either I'm really "into" what I'm doing- hyper focused, or I get lost in a series of rabbit holes so I end up working on several things in bursts of attention.
I ALWAYS have so much to do! Every time I try to "streamline" and "systemize" the learning curve is so intense or there is SO much PRE-work that needs to be done before you days are care-free and running on auto-pilot. I'm still not convinced there IS such a thing. But that's a topic for another blog post. (which, I don't care what anyone says, cannot be automated.)
Anyway- see, what I mean? SQUIRREL!
The "plan" for this Oregon Trail adventure had so many side things that I wanted to happen as well.
What IS happening:
-I'm seeing some BEAUTIFUL landscapes! Some country I've never seen before! And since my imagination is super sensitive, I can immediately "go back in time" and see things the way they would have seen them, and story get wrapped around that... so yay for that.
-Along with these landscapes, I'm seeing landmarks that were pivotal to the pioneers- and those just feed the fire. It's like finding a piece to a continual scavenger hunt. I wonder if other people even notice these landmarks, or are moved in the slightest the significance they had on the travelers.
-I am getting to most of the museums and touristy traps that make me so happy. Budget is the only thing that gets in the way there. Budget is crazy tight.
-I'm keeping the PostCard Club on track. (I always lose money on this because I just want to get them just one more thing... ). But- they are on track and I'm pleased with all the goodies that I find along the way. I love postcards.
-I am staying pretty consistent in the History Revisited group. What a great group of people! I am so happy that everyone seems to be having a good time. They are not shy, and engagement is good, which of course builds my confidence- knowing that I'm on the right track and giving them stuff they like. That makes me happy.
What is NOT happening:
-As I've already confessed, I bailed on the podcast. And sure enough, the moment I said it outloud, my brain is writing episodes and trying to convince me that I made a terrible decision.
-I'm supposed to be doing videos. I don't know why I agreed to that. I don't know what I was thinking. I hate video. Always have. I love teaching, and experimenting and I KNOW the best way to share that with everyone is through video. But there is so much I have to learn before I can do it... so much prep time... editing... and then where to I store it or share it... so much. Which brings me to the whole purpose of this entry...
-One of the things I was going to video (or at least share) was recipes from the pioneer days. I'm so excited to try them! I bought a million pounds of flour for goodness sake!! The problem comes when I get lost in the computer and by the time a look up- I'm starving and don't want to take the time to build a fire and gather ingredients and figure out what I'm doing. So I end up drinking a protein shake or a snack... (which are running out and I'm not "allowed" to restock!). Maybe that will push me to do the cool stuff.
Do I need to make a schedule? Maybe I need to plan stuff as soon as I get up? Do I need to set up a time limit for the computer? Lol! Lol! I crack myself up.
Point is ... I need to start doing the stuff I said I was going to, otherwise I will severely regret it when I reach the end.
I would like to point out, that even though I am in front of my computer or phone screen for hours upon hours every day, I'm still enjoying my surroundings. I am looking at a beautiful view of the North Platte River surrounded by tall amber waves of grain.
The benefits of working from home. I don't take that lightly. Apparently I'm back to trying to figure out how to add MORE stuff to my day??
Which means by me giving up the second podcast, made zero difference.
...sigh. Welcome to my brain.
Man, I'm hungry.
This morning I had a private prayer meeting at the sunrise service. It was just me, the Platte River, the sun sneaking up over the plains and God. The birds were the choir and a slight breeze kept the heat away.
The brand new sunlight caught the mist coming up from the water and gave it warm etherial look.
Per our usual conversations, I begin with gratitude. How thankful that I am that I can take this journey. It's come at a high cost, and I never want Him to think that I don't realize it. I also know that there will probably be a high cost when my travels end, and I let him know that I accept that too. I am grateful for the littlest things like a safe place to sleep and the beautiful orchestra of nature around me, but I am most grateful for an audience with Him.
Because, and I'm sure He knows it... it's not long before I begin to fret about all the things. "How am I going to afford this?" "What happens next?" "What if this... what if that..."
His answer, is always the same..."Let me take care of that, you take care of the things that are in your control."
At which, I instantly felt the tiniest sting of reprimand.
Am I doing all of the things I'm supposed to be doing? Maybe... but am I doing them to the best of my ability? Probably not.
I am easily side-tracked with the latest, newest idea and I usually chase it down for the length of my leash to see what I can do with it. Sometimes I have no business being there. Sometimes I can find a few nuggets to make the things I do better and sometimes, I think that I have the power to bend time... that's my biggest problem, I think. I WANT to do all these things, so I TRY to do all these things, but it turns out that I have the exact same number of hours in the day as everyone else. I'm not SUPPOSED to be doing ALL the things apparently. And He waits patiently until I can come to our meetings for Him to tell me so.
I have been given a great deal of success and growth with my podcast, Bag of Bones. I love it. I really love everything about it, but I'm not utilizing it as best as I could. Meaning, I'm spreading out, instead of digging the well a little deeper. I jumped into a second podcast before Bag of Bones was even a year old and one, both are extremely research intensive, and two, I wasn't able to give them the amount of time I need to bring forward the quality I desire. So, with heavy heart, I am cancelling the release of Trails of History. Maybe postponing it? I don't know, but for now, it needs to come off my plate so I can continue to grow and nurture and monetize the podcast I have currently.
The other thing I need to remove right away is the more public version of the Writer's Lounge. I am moving this branch of my company to a more niched down version. I am discontinuing the Facebook group. It takes a huge amount of time creating daily posts for people and it's just not being used. And I am also discontinuing the League of Authors Membership site for this year. I love the concept of this- but it's just too big for me to deal with at the moment.
I am going to switch my focus to smaller group coaching to writer's who are ready to get their first book written and published. Many people SAY they want to write a book but few actually put in the time and effort to do so. I want to work with those few and help them with all the crazy transition stuff to make it a dream come true.
And then finally, my readers have been most patient with me, allowing me to follow this path and that- not having a new book from me. I need to get back to that. I owe you all A Devil's Errand that was supposed to be released in May, but I will do my best to get it released before the end of the year.
So keep an eye out, these transitions will be happening slowly throughout the website. Things will disappear and new things will pop up, fear not... all part of the Master's plan...