) ( ( ) Good Morning Family! ( \ .-.,--^--. ( Come on in. . . \* ) \\|`----'| - The coffee pot's on. . . .=|=. \| |// ...and we even have decaf, |~'~| | |/ tea, and hot chocolate! | | \ / _|___|_ ------ (_______) Today's topics include: 1. Welcome to new cousins 2. The Overland Experience, part IV TO OUR NEWEST COUSINS ~~ On behalf of the entire family, I'd like to extend a most hearty welcome to those cousins who came into the family fold this past week. We are very glad to have you with us and hope you'll stay and remain a part of our online family. As soon as you're comfortable with us and the list, please send in your list-surname lines so we can all see how we're related to you. We do not have a fancy format for sending in records or queries to the list. Post as many as you wish! If the data has anything to do with our list-surname ancestors that might help someone, please feel free to post it. Every scrap of information is appreciated. You're welcome to share this Coffee with your genealogy friends and relatives. If they are not members of our online family and would like to begin receiving the Coffee, they are now able to. Simply have them send a blank email to <[email protected]>. THE OVERLAND EXPERIENCE, Part IV June 15, 2002 Hubby and I decided that we need to make a major push. Portland, Oregon is still about 840 miles away ~ another 14 hours driving, or so. If we drive 12 hours today, we'll be in Portland by day after tomorrow; but twelve hours in that van ~ ugh! Our spirits are a little better today after last night's relaxation. We took in an early movie, got back to the motel about 10:30 and just watched some TV. We were so tired all of us fell asleep with the TV on! It's a cool morning but the weatherman has predicted temps in the 90's again today. I wish the days weren't so hot; they make me feel grimey and cranky! Oh, before I forget ~ I need to get some more suntan lotion; it's become such a necessity on this trip for all of us, it seems. Time to head over to a restaurant for some breakfast, then we're on the road again ~ an omelet with hash browns sounds really tempting. Tuesday, October 11, 1853 We are now about another 300 miles since I last wrote. Our days are exceedingly more strenous, hence and our energies wane much quicker than any days previous. The boredom, drudgery, sickness, fatigue and hard work day after day never change, and then we face the same thing in all our tomorrows. The one good thing in our days now is the somewhat cooler temperatures, but we fear the snows will arrive before we make our destination. We are behind and must endure longer days to speed our journey. As before, we travel a trail littered with belongings unloaded along the way. Scavengers from towns collect full wagonloads of flour, bacon ~ even cast iron stoves. I feel sad to see so many personal possessions being discarded, but if we and our animals are to continue the journey this ease of weight is very necessary. I wonder if my beautiful piano and grandfather clock have been picked up by scavengers yet. On one of our days, we stopped at a rock so huge I originally thought it was a mountain.* I think it must have been the entire population of the train that swarmed all over it when we made a two-hour stop. We found many fur trappers' names already drawn on the rock. Using axle grease made of pine tar and hog fat, those of us that could write left small notes for any travelers that might follow us, or just left our names to show that we had made it this far. Some emigrants even carved their names, dates, or initials. An abundance of grass next to the huge rock gave the animals plenty of foraging. After an afternoon's enjoyment, we continued on another several hours, following the Sweetwater River. [*Our pioneer is talking about Independence Rock, a huge, hard, black granite monolith rising out of the ground that was isolated and alone on the north side of the river, looking like a beached whale. Some emigrants names and dates that were placed in crags, protected from the elements, still show today.] When we reached South Pass, a traveler's gap through the Rocky Mountains, we had gone half-way in our travels.* Hurrah! How exciting it was to know that! On the other hand, we still have so far to go, and we are already in October. Knowing that, we are now walking as many as 20 miles a day, every day we can. We all thought South Pass would be a narrow defile in the Rock Mountains walled by perpendicular rocks hundreds of feet high. We were all surprised to find that the pass is actually a valley and are told it is some twenty miles wide. We are finding South Pass a good place to camp with plenty of grass and water, and game such as antelope and buffalo. My husband shot an antelope and the meat was very welcome for supper that night. [*....and crossed the Continental Divide. South Pass was a gateway to the Far West for the emigrant wagon trains along the Oregon-California Trail] Through all that we have been through, I am extremely happy to say, that we are now in Oregon Territory!* [*Our travelers are, by today's maps, still in Wyoming. Oregon became a territory in 1848 when it still embraced all of the present states of Washington, Idaho and parts of Montana and Wyoming. It remained so for eleven years and, in 1859, achieved statehood. By then it had been reduced to its present size.] We have now changed into our new shoes, being the extra ones we brought along. We had all worn holes in the first pair. Our feet are sore and I will be quite happy when we are done walking! Eighteen miles west of South Pass we came to the fork in the road called Parting of the Ways. Although told previously by the wagonmaster that we would take the alternate route, the members of the train once again were offered the choice between a safe, established trail following water and relatively level ground leading to Fort Bridger or a substantial shortcut through dry, barren and mountainous country which would reduce our journey by 85-miles ~ nearly a week's travel. We were among the eleven wagons who chose the shortcut, Sublette's Cutoff. We were told that the route would shorten our travel time by as much as a week, something all of us taking the cutoff were concerned with. Our family needed the stop at Fort Bridger, however two families said they would share their food with us if we wished to take the cutoff ~ they not having to unload furniture but saved that extra weight for additional foodstuffs. We accepted their offer. It was a grievious mistake; we all should have gone to Fort Bridger. Our first trial on the Cutoff was crossing the Green River and as always at a river crossing, was a major source of distress for us. Seven people in two wagons drowned trying to cross; three were children. They are all still in the river. My husband elected to use the commercial ferry services, but those who didn't have the $5.00 fees, forded the Green upstream on their own. Downstream of the ford, a series of emigrant graves and burned wagon remains provided testimony of the failure of some emigrants to safely negotiate the crossing. The seven from our own party will no likely end up in one of those graves. How I dread making our way across those rivers! I have seen no less than 8 wagons lost to rivers, but even worse is the loss of life ~ both human and animal. On some crossings we followed gravel bars so narrow that the deviation of even a few feet meant the loss of a wagon, or worse. In extreme cases, we had to unload and dismantle their wagons and float everything across a piece at a time. This time though, the river crossing wasn't nearly as bad as I'd feared. A rope with pulleys on it was stretched across the river, and the current carried the boat across. When we were nearly across, the upper edge of the boat dipped...and I thought we would be swamped instantly...and drown the last one of us. Fortunately, all of us, the wagon and our belongings made it safely to the other side. Tomorrow we begin the Sublette Cutoff. June 15, 2002 A traffic jam! Can you believe it? Cars and trucks for miles and miles ahead of us! There must be a major accident up ahead. Super highways just aren't made to be stuck on for an hour! This is disgusting!! The air conditioner is going to run hot and I'll have to turn it off..... GET MOVING UP THERE! Okay, traffic is moving again, albeit ever so slowly. I'll bet they didn't have *this* garbage in the good ol' days! Next time we move, I'm going to ask Hubby to do so in the fall when people aren't out on vacation! These people need to GO HOME! grrrr Well, I guess there *is* a positive note ~ the stopping and going is allowing me to write this. :) Whew, it's hot! Wednesday, October 12, 1853 I have never seen such hostile land and hope to never again. It is undeniably the worst stretch of the Trail thus far. Our little band has begun the trek across desolate, arid land that was filled with a waterless landscape and we risked the death not only of our animals, but of ourselves. I am happy we were not here in July or August! Yesterday we moved seven miles to the Big Sandy and camped in order to rest our stock and fit them for the coming desert of 51 miles to the Green River. After ensuring we had full water barrels and the animals' thirst and hunger was fully satisfied, we broke camp at 2 A.M. this morning and navigated into the Cutoff by lanterns carried by boys walking ahead of the wagons. We are well into the Cutoff now, having done 20 miles today. The word steep does not begin to convey an idea of the roads. Several times my husband felt sure the wagon would tip over on the tongue yoke of cattle. Yesterday the members of our train had a meeting with the wagonmaster. With the drop in temperatures, we believe we and our animals can make it across the Cutoff by daylight, rather than risk injury moving at night. We started out at 6 A.M. today and so far, the weather is a delightful fall day. Travel should be good. Thursday, October 14, 1853 It was so windy and dusty today that some times we could scarcely seen the length of the team, and it blows so tonight that we cannot set the tent or get any supper, so we ate cold. We will go to bed in the wagon which we have anchored by driving stakes in the ground and fastening the wagon wheels to them with ox chains. The wind is a cold one, so we will sleep under the blankets in our coats. Day or night, the wagons stirred up gritty, alkaline dust, so we drove them side by side in a broad front to avoid each other's dust. We passed several alkaline springs ~ exceedingly poisonous to cattle and horses ~ detected by the yellowishred color of the grass growing around them. The animals were thirsty and it was all we could do to keep them from grazing nearby or drinking the water. One of the wagons hit a rut late last evening, spilling all its contents including its precious water. All the other wagons will share with this downed one, however a wheel broke and we will have to leave it behind. We cannot risk staying here to repair the wheel. Two of the 10 remaining wagons took part of the broken wagon's possessions and we moved on, making 18 miles yesterday. Tomorrow we leave the Cutoff! I'm quite sure we are miles and miles ahead of those who chose the established route to Fort Bridger. Friday, October 14, 1853 We are bound for Soda Springs* and will continue northwest to Fort Hall, then on to the Pacific Northwest. Our spirits are very high today ~ the highest they've been in a long time. Our feet hurt, we have lost and endured so much, but we are slowly accomplishing the trek. [*Soda Springs is in the eastern part of what would become Idaho.] June 16, 2002 Yesterday was so, so bad. There was a seven-car pileup on the freeway and we were stuck for hours in between interchanges. We couldn't even get off! It definitely messed up our 12-hour driving day. We had to turn our engines off to keep them from overheating, and doing so meant we suffered in the heat right along with everyone else around us on the road. I started getting a headache and didn't have any meds to get rid of it. The kids, of course, starting acting out again. Without their TV and Nintendo, they just didn't know what to do with themselves while we were stuck in the traffic. It was about 2-1/2 hours later that we were finally able to move again, and by then we were all hot and exhausted. We got off at the next exit and checked into a motel. If we make it to Portland tomorrow or not, I really don't care. We'll get there day after tomorrow, if we have to. The heat is just too much. I just don't know how *anyone* can live without air conditioning! Next week: Soda Springs... and beyond? It's family ... and that's what we're all about. I so enjoyed spending this time with you today. Thank you for sharing it with me. I wish each of you a week filled with health, productivity, fun, and above all, filled with love and inner peace. ) ( ) _.-~~-. (@\'--'/. Colleen ('``.__.'`) `..____.'