Tag Archives: Oregon Trail

Our Big Sky Adventure

28 Jul

We just returned from a trip to the Big Sky Country where we made our way through South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho and Utah. There was beautiful landscapes and a variety of wild animals everywhere we went.

We saw Bandlands National Park and the carvings – both Rushmore and Crazy Horse – of the Black Hills.

We rode up to Devils Tower but did not see any alien spacecraft landing.

We visited the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming.

We made our way through Yellowstone National Park, where we stayed at the Old Faithful Inn. We saw geysers, bison, elk, a wolf and massive waterfalls. However, the best part was watching Old Faithful erupt and the sun rose over the horizon. It was just Necole and I watching a sight that usually attracts thousands.

We rafted the whitewater of the Snake River in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Along the way, we saw otter playing in the water and a bald eagle perched on the limb of a dead tree.

We glamped on the shores on Bear Lake, a natural lake that covered 109 square miles and straddles the border of Idaho and Utah. We floated the waters and took in the blueness that makes Bear Lake the Caribbean of the Rockies.

We drove the length of Wyoming on the return to Rapid City, South Dakota. On the route, we crossed the Oregon Trail and the Bozeman Trail. We passed by Teapot Dome, the namesake of a massive presidential scandal. We went through Johnson County, the location of a range war that made its way into the pages of history.

It was a lengthy trip, and a detailed account would take up post after post. Instead, I have decided to portray our excursion with my favorite photograph from each day. Be warned that they are mostly landscapes. I have been told that I am better at capturing landscapes than I am at capturing people.

Day 1 – Mount Rushmore

Day 2 – Devils Tower

Day 3 – Buffalo Bill Center of the West

Day 4 – Yellowstone Falls

Day 5 – Snake River

Day 6 -Conestoga Ranch

Day 7 – Bear Lake

Day 8 – Plains of Johnson County

It was a great trip that created a lot of fantastic memories. One of these days, we will make it back to Big Sky Country.

I Hope the Buggles Were Wrong…

20 Sep

When they sang “Video Killed the Radio Star.” Why? This week, I appeared on WANT 98.9, the station that plays Real Country.WANT

Before anyone gets worried, I did not sing. Instead, I was a guest on Coleman & Company, a talk show where local people are interviewed. This time, it should have been called Larry & Company because my good friend was hosting while Coleman is on vacation. You have read about Larry before.

We talked about all kinds of things, but history dominated the time. We discussed Quanah Parker, a famous Comanche, and his mother, who was taken captive by the Comanche. We talked about the pioneers who traveled over the Oregon Trail. We also talked about George Allen, a Cumberland University student who later went on to become a close confidante to Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and Harry Truman. It was an enjoyable experience, and everyone said that I did a good job.

After the interview, I started thinking about the first time I was in that studio. When I was a kid, the radio station held a spelling bee, which was divided by grade level. Each school sent the winners of its grades to compete against the winners at other schools.

There was this one kid that I could never beat. Her name was Melissa, and she was not my favorite person. Every year, I finished second to her first. Finally, we made it to 5th grade, and I won. It was one of those pivotal moments in life that affects everything that will come later. After beating her, I could conquer the world.

That’s when the 5th grade teacher changed the rules and said it would be best 2-out-of-3. It was devastating. Think about a team winning the Super Bowl and being told they have to win it again. With my spelling senses reeling, she crushed me in the next two matches.

I was not happy. My mom was not happy at a completely different level. She confronted the teacher and asked about the change. The teacher’s answer was simple. She thought Melissa would have a better chance of winning on the radio and set it up so she could make it. That was not the answer my mom wanted to hear.

Fast forward a couple of years. I am in 7th grade at a local private school. It is the last grade that takes part in the spelling bee. I breeze through the contest and qualify for the spelling bee on the radio. On a Saturday morning, we pull up to the station and go to the studio, the same studio I was in this week. Kids from the other schools were going to their seats, but I only had my eye on one.

One by one, kids made their way to the microphone to spell a word. Some got through and some didn’t. I only paid attention when she was up there. When she got one right, I knew that I had to get one right. I didn’t care about winning the whole thing. I just wanted to outlast Melissa.

The contest continued until the unthinkable happened. She missed a word. I knew that I had to get the next one right to truly beat her. I got to the microphone. The moderator, which may have been Coleman, gave out the word. I took my time and nailed it. With great satisfaction, I went back to my seat and she slithered out of the room.

I didn’t win the contest, and I don’t remember who did. All I remember is who stayed in the longest, and it wasn’t Melissa. I hope my old 5th grade teacher was listening.

Oregon or Bust!

11 Sep

In and around the 1840s, thousands of people packed up their lives and their belongings to seek the Promised Land. That Promised Land was Oregon, and the Oregon Trail was the method for getting there. This involved hooking on to a wagon train in Missouri and following guides across the Great Plains and over the Rocky Mountains. It was a perilous journey, but one that they felt would lead to great reward.Oregon Trail

Along the way, they suffered from dysentery. They lost people and possessions while fording rivers. They watched as oxen died of exhaustion. They had wagon wheels break on mountain passes. They dumped valued items to lessen the weight of their load.

Many people made it to Oregon to establish new lives. However, many are also buried along the trail, left behind with pianos, chests and other pieces of furniture. It was truly a difficult and amazing migration.

Tomorrow, I leave for Oregon. However, I will not be taking the route the Marcus and Narcissa Whitman followed. I will be flying in a plane and will get there in a few hours. This is not my first trip to Oregon, but it will be the first time that I have had time to look around. It will be interesting to see the land that so many felt was important enough to risk their lives for.

I will also be going to a football game between the University of Oregon and the University of Tennessee. It will be a short trip but an interesting one. That means my next post will be about my migration to Oregon. I can’t speak for my cohorts, but, hopefully, I won’t get dysentery.