Meandering Thoughts

Meandering Thoughts

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Wagon Train Ride on the Oregon Trail, 1995

In 1995 we went back on the Oregon Trail Wagon Train Ride.  We had so much fun the year before that our friends decided to join us on this year's trip.  I mentioned in my previous writing about the 1994 wagon train ride, our host gave Ryan and Tere a free trip for a wedding gift, because they became engaged on the  trip the year before.  We couldn't let that pass by, now could we?

I also mentioned in the last writing about the artist, Tom Lucas.  We stopped by his home and shop to see his artwork.  This year my goal was to find elk teeth ivory's and beaver teeth.  I so wanted to have earrings and a necklace like our "Annie Oakley" friend from last years adventure.  I was sure Tom would have these items.  Come to find out, he had beaver teeth, but they were still in the skulls.  As I mentioned before, he traps beaver to feed their "pet" bobcats.  He gladly gave me three skulls and told me if I put them in pots of boiling water and let them cook awhile, the teeth could then be extracted. So we left with beaver skulls and visions of beaver tooth necklaces in our heads.

We stayed the night before our wagon train ride in the town of Atlantic City, WY.  Had fun at the bar/restaurant playing cards and just relaxing.  Talk turned to last year's trip and our chance meeting with Marcy and Brian.  We just happen to mention them to someone in the bar and found out that they were in a camper just outside the building.  How interesting to run into this couple again this year.   We went knocking on the camper door and were greeted like old friends.  (Have I mentioned that Marcy is still a friend today, almost 20 years later!  Yep, it is true, and she was just here visiting us this past week on her way West.)

There were twelve of us on this trip.  Matt was the youngest and he was probably nine.  Friends and family members are all horse people and wanted to ride a horse and not be riding in a covered wagon for miles on a bumpy hard road.  So our host said we could have as many horses as we needed, we thought that was perfect.  When we arrived at the tumbled down starting point of our event, there were indeed horses of all sizes and conformations.  Tack was laying wherever it had been dropped.  We were told to pick our horses and saddle up!!!   There was not horse and saddle that went together, you found what you needed and made it work.  The trading of equipment until everything fit the horse you were riding went on for some time.  Bridles had to be fitted, girths were swapped, and stirrups adjusted.  It truly was like doing a live jigsaw puzzle.   Meanwhile, our host's just watched while we worked it out.   (I'm not sure they had a clue about getting that many horses ready.)  This wasn't difficult, we all knew how to tack up, but it should have been a clue about the knowledge of our hosts.

Our journey on the Oregon Trail (Mormon Trail) was so much fun, the sky is never ending, the smell of sage was in the air.  Horses were very nice to handle and we stopped at some tumbledown places that people tried to live at one time or another.   Weather worn wood barns and homes, trickles of water nearby were barely enough to water even one horse.   We felt the presence of the past and what it might have been like to travel this vast open land for a piece of land to call home.

We arrived at a different spot this year to call camp.  The tipi's were up and it was in another grove of aspen trees.  Very beautiful setting. Campfires, the guys brought guns to shoot targets, we gathered plant material to fill baskets to take home, we did day rides from base camp to places of interest and food was great.  After our evening meal one night we gathered cans of water to "cook" our beaver skulls.  This was suppose to be a project for the females in the group, kind of a ceremony to create our own "tribe", to remember the trip with this touchstone or in this case a beaver tooth necklace.  Our name would be the Beaver-tooth Tribe.  Well, six females gathered around the fire, the skulls were put in the hot water and then it happened.  The smell of these skulls cooking was more then the "tribe" could stand, one by one they left me to attend to the project.  Oh my, the smell was really bad, but I couldn't just forget about those skulls, I had to be the one to finish the project.

Then it happened, my friend "Annie Oakley", Marcy came riding into camp with Brian.  She found me by the fire and she helped me to extract beaver teeth from the skulls.  To this day we laugh at the story, each of the girls on the trip did get their stylish beaver tooth necklace.  I still wear mine, I don't often see the others wearing theirs, but I know they have them tucked away in a special place to remember the aspen grove with tipi's, the big night sky, the smell of sage and cooking skulls, Brian playing his guitar around the campfire.  They'll remember the horses they rode and the vast, windy desert of Wyoming on the Oregon Trail.

Our trip together continued, we went to Cody, WY and into Yellowstone, camping in tents, taking turns at making meals, sharing a wonderful time together.   It is also reminding me of another story or two........


  1. This Beaver Tooth Tribe member remembers holding sage under our noses to mask the smell of cooking beaver skulls... but sage can only do so much.

  2. I thought I remembered that too, but hearing it from you it is much funnier!!! I'm laughing just thinking about it!