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Thread: Moving West - Chapt 31 - The Great Plains

  1. #1
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    Moving West - Chapt 31 - The Great Plains

    Mariska recovered from her ordeal very quickly, and soon joined Sean in helping Dan and Anna wherever she could. As they all sat on the front porch one evening, a mutual decision was reached that Sean and Mariska would help get the crops in that fall, and then would spend the winter before leaving the next Spring. Dan and Anna had changed their minds about moving west. Dan's brother had written about some prime farm land in northeast Arkansas, near a new settlement they were calling Scatterville. They decided that it sounded more attractive than facing the hardships and dangers of starting over again in the west.

    That fall, after all the crops were in, a picnic and dance were held at the local church to celebrate the year's work. It was at that dance that the local people sprung a surprise on Sean and Mariska. Knowing of their plan to go to Colorado in the spring, the farmers and their families, grateful for their help during the fire, came together to do what they could to help the young couple. One family donated an old Conestoga wagon, that admittedly was in bad need of repair. A couple of other families gave items such as blankets, dried meats, preserved vegetables, and various tools. A pair of mules came from a couple of other families, supplemented by another pair from Dan and Anna. Mariska and Sean were somewhat embarrassed, but the sincerity of the people made it impossible for them to do anything but accept these gifts with thankful hearts.

    That winter, Sean and Dan spent most of their time working on the old wagon and getting it in shape for the trip west. When early spring arrived, the goodbyes were said, and once again Sean and Mariska were on the road in search of their future. At Independence, Missouri, they discovered that the only wagon trains leaving there were headed for Oregon or California. A talk with the wagon master assured them that all they had to do was just leave the train before it got to Wyoming. There they would head southwest to Colorado. A couple of weeks were spent waiting to assemble enough wagons and families to make up the wagon train. Sean and Mariska used that time to talk to everyone that might have information to offer about the trip they were about to make, and their Colorado destination. Then, early one morning, in the middle of a driving rainstorm, the journey began.
    As the miles passed slowly, Sean found it interesting to see the different reactions among the members of the wagon train. Some, like Sean and Mariska were used to the hardships of traveling, and accepted things as they came. Some others were used to a more structured, softer life back in the east, and were soon complaining. With each passing day on the endless plains, the effect on the travelers was more pronounced. Some men and women whose lives had been up to that point, fairly routine and largely unnoticed by most, found they were now in a place and situation where their actions and decisions were of some importance. Men and women who responded to challenges, accepted hardships without complaining, and helped out when needed, gained the respect of the people around them. More importantly, they began to look at themselves in a different light. Once they had been poor, ordinary people, following the the paths laid out for them by others more powerful or affluent. Now, they were themselves becoming out of necessity, leaders and difference makers. Out here, it made no difference how rich or poor you were. What you might have been back east, good or bad, made little difference along this trail. What counted, was, were you a person that could be trusted, and when courage was needed, would you step up, or step back?
    In contrast, were the people that now faced life on a bigger scale than they had ever imagined. With each passing day, they began to shrink from the task at hand. As they had sat by the fire in their homes, going west had seemed like a grand adventure. Now they were discovering that adventure is often overshadowed by grim reality. More than anything, the vast, endless, and to their eyes, empty expanse of the plains seemed to them more of an insurmountable obstacle than any of the mountains that lay ahead of them. It was hard for them to keep their dreams alive when all they could see was the plains going on forever, with no trees, no houses, and no apparent sign of human life. As the wheels rolled relentlessly westward, without regard to difficulty or weather, concerns began to assail some of those who were ill prepared mentally for this journey. Here if someone got injured or sick, there was no doctor to send for. You either got well or died. If someone in your family died, there was no family or town cemetery in which to bury them. Their grave would be in the middle of nowhere, with few if any landmarks to guide them to locate the grave again. The further the train went, the more discouraged and depressed some became, until finally, they would begin to turn back, giving up forever their dream of moving west.
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    Last edited by barnburner; 02-09-2011 at 05:36 AM.
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  2. #2
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    Keep those dreams alive as we need to know what happens next. Well done Barnburner another smashing episode. Love the painting too
    Sometimes...I remember better with my eyes closed

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  4. #4
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    I'm prepared to the adventure and to go on with the trip (since I'm in a quite comfortable position ).
    The illustration is just wonderful and eloquent.
    I wonder whether the look of the last wagon going behind the hump setting the horizon would spoil the sense of vastity of the uninhabited plains ...
    Panta rei (everything flows)!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by coops View Post
    Keep those dreams alive as we need to know what happens next. Well done Barnburner another smashing episode. Love the painting too
    Thank you very much Coops... I truly appreciate that...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alexandra View Post
    Very good Mike!
    Thank you Sandy. I'm so glad you liked it.
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  7. #7
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    This is such a truly terrific project.
    // "Appreciation fosters well-being. Be well." - Byron
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caesar View Post
    I'm prepared to the adventure and to go on with the trip (since I'm in a quite comfortable position ).
    The illustration is just wonderful and eloquent.
    I wonder whether the look of the last wagon going behind the hump setting the horizon would spoil the sense of vastity of the uninhabited plains ...
    Caesar, thank you so much.
    I struggled as to whether to leave the painting as is, or to add something at the horizon, but finally decided that leaving it as is, gave me the look I wanted.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by byroncallas View Post
    This is such a truly terrific thread.
    Many thanks Byron... Your kind comment is very much appreciated.
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  10. #10
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    Good reading, Barney,i hope they get there safely and really find their paradise. Nice picture to show the vastness of the plains.

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