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WAGONS HO - The Journey IIII [AKA IV]- The Big Valley


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I stood there in the pass trying to listen carefully to what Mr. Hughes was saying to us but my eyes were focused on what was below me. It was one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. The pass seemed to be centered on the valley and about 1500 feet above, while the valley itself looked to be twice as long as it was wide. I could see a large body of water, a good-sized lake, almost directly in front of us. There was water going in and out of it at each end, rivers I assumed. There were quite a few areas that had water running through rocks and clefts and rolling hills. Some of them might have been spring runoff but I could see snow still lingering here and there in shadowed places throughout the valley. Three or four of the water runoffs seemed big enough to be rivers themselves but they appeared and disappeared among the trees and it was hard to tell.


The cold wind bit into my cheeks and I pulled my parka closer around me as I continued to stare out at what was to be our new home. Trees covered well more than half the area but I could see rolling hills to the north and flat land to the south. As I listened to Mr. Hughes talk about the trail we would be traveling once we got down into the valley I looked where he was pointing and saw a narrow band of cleared area snaking through the trees generally towards the west. It seemed to wander back and forth in a roundabout way before disappearing into the trees around the lake. I realized that though we were only five or so miles from the lake it was going to be more than twice that by the road, probably because of detours around boulders, outcroppings and dense stands of trees. I could see why they were telling us that it might take a day or more after reaching the bottom of the pass to get to the lake.


It was early morning and the sun was illuminating the whole western slope across the valley and it showed shear cliffs in some areas while others had wide tree studded ledges. Closer to the lake the land became forest-covered rolling hills. From my vantage point, high above it all, the whole thing looked like a giant oval bread bowl with the lake near it's center as a focal point, drawing my eyes again and again as the water glistened beckoningly. I could see areas along its edges that looked like gravel or sand beaches and as I followed it's shores north I could see where the river waters poured into it. White foam eddied for a distance into the lake but then gave way to glassy smoothness. To the south was another river that looked almost like a tail wagging away from the large body of water to wander through acres of low flat prairie. I could almost picture wheat growing there, ripe and golden in the sun.


Many of the trees in the valley were evergreen and I could just imagine that it would look like a Christmas card picture during the wintertime. In paying closer attention though I could see large tracks of deciduous trees, some with their dead leaves still clinging, as do the oaks in the winter, lending their browns and reds to the panorama of greens and glistening silver and gold. From this height I couldn't tell what the trees were but I was looking forward to finding out.


Looking down, trying to see into the shadows of the eastern slope below me I was given the impression of more rolling hills, some steeper than others. Still, the descent didn't look to be nearly as bad as some of the steep areas we'd already climbed. Except, that is, for the five hundred feet or so directly below me. I drew my eyes back to what I'd tried to ignore while looking at our new home, the initial gateway into the valley.


I took a quick step backwards and gave my whole attention to what Mr. Hughes was trying to tell us.



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I was trying to listen to what Mr. Hughes was saying but my eyes kept straying back to the steep slope in front of me. I tried to tell myself that it was no worse than some we'd climbed but I knew better in my heart. I wasn't good at guessing gradients or percentages of drop but we have seven percent graded roads in some places back home and this was definitely steeper than that. It looked almost impossible that we would be able to get the wagons down it and safely stopped at a group of huge boulders at it's bottom where presumably the trail took a turn into the trees.


I pulled my mind and my fear back from the drop and turned to see Mr. Hughes showing everyone a large cable set-up with a series of pulleys that had been built into a large rock outcropping directly in front of what was obviously the route down. I'm no engineer and this set up looked like anything but a feat of engineering but I was impressed with the solid timbers, trees really, that were built between two big rock outcroppings. I started to pay closer attention as I wondered how they had gotten that big cable out here. Mr. Hughes was explaining that each wagon with teams of oxen would be hooked securely to the cable that ran through the pulleys. The horses would be harnessed to the opposite end of the cable to be used as counter balance and we'd have to back the horses towards the pulleys as the wagon was taken down. Each wagon would not only have it's brake set but we would also be using logs through the wheels to act as a drag to slow the wagons further. I knew from what little experience I'd had with my own horses in the last few weeks that it would not be an easy task to coordinate the team work but I could only accept the fact that Mr. Smith, Mr. Jones, and Mr. Hughes had done it before and I prayed they knew what they were doing.


When I moved back closer to the edge of the overlook I could see that there wasn't really a drop off as it looked from further back. I could see that the path going down had been cleared of rocks and debris, which had been used to fill in gaps along the path like guard rails on a highway. I tried not to think about what those rocks might be guarding. I didn't have the time for Mr. Hughes was explaining exactly how each driver must handle their teams down the first step of the journey down. I was a bit relieved when he told us that at the end of this first slope the path took a turn and another steep decline but this one not requiring a cable or the log skids but only a firm hand on the teams and the brakes as we'd done dozens of times before. Why did that not comfort me? It seemed to be another one of those "little ditch" places that my horses were so fond of meeting head on and full tilt.


When I found our camper wagon was going to be the first down I could only stare at Mr. Hughes as he told us that even though we'd loaded it with items from the supply wagon to distribute the weight more evenly, it was the lightest actual wagon in the train. The buggies were, of course the lightest but he wanted to give the horses a chance to accustom themselves to the backwards pull before getting those down the slope. I had wondered why Mr. Hughes had had us exchanging the back rubber wheels for the original steel wheels the night before and now I knew. He had worried that the hydraulic brakes wouldn't hold up after all their wear and tear and we would be using a log just like the rest of the wagons to slow us down on the descent.


I found that I was not going to be driving the wagon and I was greatly relieved. Because the horses were used to me I was going to be helping Mr. S, DD, and several others with the teams on the counter balance while Mr. Hughes and Dh would be going down with the wagon, Mr. Hughes driving and Dh walking beside the oxen to help control them. Neither position was safe and I could feel the tension rising as the men hooked up the cable.


No one was allowed to ride in the wagon, not even the puppies, and we piled them all into the big folding kennel that MT3B had loaned us and set them aside to be carried down later, when everyone was safe at the bottom.


Once the cable was hooked to both wagon and the teams of horses and every thing was double checked to make sure it would hold, we led the horses back towards the clearing where the wagons were parked dragging the cable behind. We were over half way across the clearing when the cable became taut and before I had a chance to become more nervous Mr. Hughes was whistling to the team of oxen and the wagon started towards the incline. The horses, feeling the pull automatically pulled against it and started to skitter around and it was no easy job to keep them slowly moving backwards while trying to stay out of the way as they pranced and sidestepped. One of the horses reared once and almost picked DD off the ground and I heard her yell for me to get out of the way but I knew if I let go of the horse I was holding I'd fall and be trampled. It seemed we fought them for a long time when suddenly they were moving backwards as if they'd been doing it all their life. As we neared the pulley set up I heard a collective indrawn breath from those watching and turned to see our wagon tilting precariously as it met a dip in the track. Suddenly Mr. Smith was yelling to the horses, getting them to move backwards at a faster rate and then the wagon was upright and moving downwards again only at a rate I felt was too fast and I held my breath.


Then people were cheering and through my tears I realized that our wagon was at the bottom and pulling to a stop in front of the boulders and people were slipping and sliding down the slope to help unhook the cable and remove the log. Within minutes the wagon was around the bend and out of sight and we were moving the horses into the clearing again to get ready for the next wagon.


The day was almost a blur after that as wagon after wagon was hitched up and hooked to the cable. The horses and oxen teams were switched out every couple of wagons and others replaced me at the horses after about the fifth wagon. I was grateful not because the horses were now difficult to handle but because the tension of doing so was getting to me. I went immediately back to help with getting lunch ready.


By five in the evening dusk was setting in and only half the train was down the hill. Mr. Hughes finally called a halt despite the problem of having our train divided. There had been numerous rests throughout the day but both man and animals were exhausted. Most of the livestock was still at the top of the pass, being held in a grassy area out of the way. I helped with the chores before going to stand at the edge of the slope dreading the walk down. It wasn't that it was so steep to walk but that I was almost too tired to contemplate it. I called Sasha to me and we started picking our way past the ruts. Her puppies had been taken down some time before and I knew that the dog would be in a hurry to get to them but she stayed right beside me the whole way. We were soon joined by others going down and within fifteen minutes we were at the wagons. Someone had helped Mom down earlier, somehow, and she handed me a sandwich and hot tea as I sat near the small fire someone had started. By eight o'clock the entire camp, except for the guards, were asleep and for all I know, the guards may have slept too.


By four the next afternoon all the wagons were down with no one hurt and only minor difficulties. I wasn't there to help as I knew I wouldn't be able to walk up that slope but those of us staying below heard about each wagon's journey down as it came into camp. One of the log drags broke on a wagon half way down but thankfully the horses managed to hold it back long enough for the guys to get it cleared away and another in it's place for the rest of the descent. That had to be a scary ride. A wheel broke on one of the B's wagons but it too managed to get to the bottom with the wagon intact, though dragging the totally destroyed wheel. There were other stories of danger and I breathed a prayer of thanks each time one of the wagon's pulled up behind us.


The hardest part was getting all the animals down safely. It wasn't much of a problem for the goats and sheep and the small animals either rode the wagons or carts down. It was the cows and horses that balked going down the incline. Mr. Hughes solved that problem by tying them together like a pack team and he and a few of the others led them down a narrow switch back trail off to the side of the wagon route and though it took a lot longer they all arrived safely at the wagons.


We were a tired but jubilant group that finally gathered in the lower clearing. It was too late to travel further for the day and we prepared to settle in for the night once again. There wasn't enough room to circle the wagons and we left them lined up along the trail. We had very little water left in the water wagon or barrels as they had been almost emptied to make the wagons lighter but we did the chores as best we could, giving the animals as much water as we had. Mom and I and several others had prepared a hot meal for everyone but it was good thing it was only stew as most were almost too tired to eat.


Before long people were crawling into their beds too tired to think about the fact that there was no way we'd ever be able to get our wagons back UP that slope. For better or worse, the wagons, at least, were here to stay.



(Did your ride down go smoothly? How did you feel? How did your animals and family fare? Tell us about it. But remember, you are still on that hillside, just below the pass. More to come!!!!)



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Here is the map that Mr.H had...............


This was the map that Mr.H and Mr.S had made up when they first came to the Valley when they went exploring for sites to live. Later they added the dam (which made the lake), Lodge and Med. Center as they were built.


*Now, when you are looking at a place to homestead here are a few ideas to help you out.

NORTH is at the top and SOUTH is at the bottom of the map.


As of now the "X" is Micheal's and Lori's Homestead (hey, I made the map!), the "M" is Mothers (with a waterfall)and the "R" is Mt_Riders (with hot springs)Homesteads.

The Lodge will be part of the 'town' so if you want to set up 'Home' near the Town pick a place there of just over the river to the east. South of the Dam is mostly flad land so you can spread out there?


There will be a lot of other hot springs, streams, hills, and flatland - but YOU must Find them where ever you homestead and report back to us. We just hope that not everone wants to pick the same place to live. LOL


MAN are WE about to have some FUN!


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{.....whooooooeeeee, here we go! IRL, however, MtRider is doing very poorly. Nothing to worry about but it just stinks! I have no energy, no coordination, no ability to *think* clearly, NO ABILITY TO TYPE CLEARLY.....and I'm having trouble with NETZERO knocking me off line or jamming so I have to shut down the computer and restart the whole business .....& hope I saved to a word processing file whatever I'd been working on. :0327: So if I'm scarce, you'll find me lounging on my comfy FEATHER BED in the back of the wagon and hoping for better energy and the return of MY BRAIN! :sassing:





MtRider kinda hung back as the others went up to The Edge to look down over that beautiful valley. It was neat to just watch the reactions. We were here...finally home. Well, we would be once we got DOWN to the valley. That was gonna be a challenge. But hey, we've endured everything from helicopters to blizzards. This group [no longer two groups but melded into one by now with friendships extending throughout ] was toughened in body AND attitude. :woohoo:


Whoops, now that person really doesn't like heights. Get her laying down, quick. Nah....she'll be fine. Let her walk down and it's not so bad. It's getting the wagons down that is .....yeah, that's pretty bad. But Edward and Clarence and even Jacob Rock have all taken wagons and teams down here intact. We'll make it....slow and careful. And no, none of those wagons ever came back UP to this mountain top. It's a one-way ticket ...for our wagons anyway. In fact two of the wagons brought by Mr Smith are staying up here. If we ever need to go fetch things from civilization, they will be handy.


Mother's wagon is down safely and the next wagon is in place. Everyone has been warned to stay quiet so as not to startle the animals working this shift. The children and the rest of the animals are being kept well back at the last clearing and tended there. :) It kinda sounds like a golf tournament ...with a few quiet ooh&aaahs here and there. But mostly it is extreme focus on the business at hand.


DH has our wagon hooked to the cable and .........[MtR tries to decide if she'll close her eyes or stare-without-blinking.....] Then she feels a hand grip hers and Mother is there to support her.


"I DID happen to notice that you aren't feeling well today," says Mother.

"I'm ok....not much more than ok..... " I answer.


... and I've decided to stare-without-blinking as DH and our oxen inch down and down this steep incline. The back wheels are skidding; not turning because of the large log crammed in to lock them up. I remember to take a breath now and then. Then that boulder is so CLOSE to the left rear wheel. The stupid log catches on it. :o Now what? They are almost to the leveling out area but DH can't go further forward. STUCK!


The horses up by the cable winch are halted. Don't play out anymore line. Several strong men rush up to try to move the jamming log a little so that it will clear this obstacle. This large boulder won't move. I start fussing about how *I * should have driven. I was a professional driver of tour buses....DH needed to to swing wider on that curve! Fuss*Worry*Pace*Wring-Hands


The horses are pulling IN the cable just a bit. The oxen are confused but DH is directing them back UP hill a few inches. Suddenly the log is freed and the men remove this temporary "brake" so the wagon can get thru this narrow spot.


"Hold everything real tight," hollers Mr Hughes. "You'll be without the log braking you for the final few feet down. Don't worry, you're almost there anyway."


Mother held on to me a while cuz apparently I'd unconsciously began to head down that hill to be closer to our little drama. "Wait," she said. "Just a moment and he'll get your wagon thru."


And then it was done. Our oxen rumbled the last few feet and stopped for the cable to be loosed and wound back up [dragging the brake-log up too] for the next wagon. And my legs, none too sturdy on this day anyway......gave way. I sat smack down and all but dragged Mother with me. "I'm fine,.....just need to sit a bit."


"You aren't bringing MM down with the cart, are you?" Mother asked.

"No. Normally I would, but I just don't have the legs for it today. Mr.Mt.R will come back up and bring the cart down. We decided to use both donkeys since Jack has a steadying influence on MM. :rolleyes: The cart has the long poles so it won't overrun them anyway. Later, I'll be going down on Midnight. Dh will take Roan down at the same time.....but he might walk her too. She's always a bit of an idiot and this isn't a good time for that."


The donkey's were quite careful and slow enough they almost wouldn't have needed the restraining cable. Of course, nasty rocky hillsides are what they are bred for. The poultry & rabbit cages had been made quite secure on the cart and each cage was stuff rather full with dried grasses. Other than some quacking, honking, and scrabbling for position when the cart first tilted downward, all went very smoothly. Of course the goats had no trouble when it was finally time for the livestock herds to be encouraged over the edge. My four small does are showing their pregnancy but are not yet heavy enough to slow them too much.


I was put right to bed again once we'd gotten our animals situated. I didn't need a second opinion. :0327: I think we all dropped 5 pounds these past two days. We are all glad the wagon train is back together and not split with some still up at the top.




Mr.MtRider and I on our lovely featherbed in the wagon, discussing just how we plan to accomplish things with just the two of us. Or...the one and one-half of us..... :o if the past few days is any indication for me. Oh well, the garden and small fields first and once that's started, we can worry about anything else later. We plan to be right on the NE river and not too far for him to get to the medical clinic if he's needed. The tents we brought and the wagon will be just fine for the summer. But from our Duluth experience, fall comes and then a house of some kind will be needed. Plenty of trees and grass land in that area from what Clarence told us. We're getting very anxious to actually ride around and discover WHERE our new home and lands will be.



Are we there yet??????? Almost! :bounce:




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Words can not describe my first thoughts looking out over the valley...beautiful, awesome just did not describe the place. Then I saw how we were to get down and I almost lost it right there on the side of the mountain. :faint3: Hummm I think I like this spot just fine. That last clearing would make a wonder place to build a house. Plenty of trees, we could have a barn up in a matter of weeks. :unsure: Mother and Mt.Rider both are shaking their heads telling me it will be ok that we will make it down just fine. Looking down the trail again I don't believe them but I do trust them and Mr. H. They have gotten us this far. (I still say this side of the mountain is nice and would make a wonder homesite) :blink:


It was decided that our wagons would be one of the last going down that there was no way possible we could get them all down in one day so we would stay behind and go down the second day. This is good because they are using our horses as anchors. Mother's was the first wagon down. The guys made it look so easy all though the horses didn't think so at first. Just knew Mother was going to get trampled a couple of times. I was so glad when some one took over for her. SF, W & N were on the trail acting as guides for the wagons. P was working the horses, me I was biting my nails right beside Mt. Rider. At the end of the day I didn't think the men were going to get back up the “hill” A and I had already taken care of the other animals and the horses where given extra care that first night.


The next morning it was our turn. Mr. MtR had sent their donkey's back up to pull our cattle cart down since all of oxen were being used to pull wagons and Mr. H didn't want to tandem the cattle cart on the wagon. It was touch and go there on wagon#2 it was the heaviest since it had the cook stove in it. I just knew it was going to end up on its side. The stove shifted even after it was secured the best we could. Wagons 1 & 3 made it down with little or no problem. It was just nerve wracking. The pigs did not like the ride, we ended covering the cart with a tarp so they could not see and they settled down after that. At the end of the day we were all down the “hill” including the animals. It was so good to have the group back together even if we were all bone weary.


Mt. Rider was still in her wagon. Hopefully this extra day of rest allowed her to get some of her energy back. She is going to need it on this next downslope. It doesn't look much easier than what we just tackled. Mr. H has assured us that next slope even though it looks bad is way better than what we just came down. He said we would not need the pulley system. By the look in Mother's eyes she is not to sure about it either. But Mr. H is the man with the plan and he will get us down there. He has gotten us this far and the reward is just at the bottom of the “hill” We all set about to tend to animals. The oxen and horses were checked over real well and they were given extra portion. They worked hard the past two days and deserved a treat. Dinner was light, Chef had dinner ready for everyone and we all ate were asleep before the moon was over the mountain.


SF and I were up early and were looking out over the valley. The sight was just breath taking. It was hard to believe that we would soon be living there. Sf smiled as he wiped the tears streaming down my face. He wrapped me in his arms and assured me that this had all been worth it even to this city boy. I couldn't help but smile too, I told him I was so proud of him even if he was scared of snakes. He laughed and said at least he empties the mouse traps. Well he had me there. :kissy: As we stood there looking out over our new home I wondered aloud if Mr. H had ever got a chance to check out the other side of the river. He said next time he spoke to Mr. H he would ask if not he and the boys would ride over and check it out. He asked if I had packed the digital camera and if I thought the batteries were still good...What kind of question was that...MEN...of course I packed the digital camera and I even the packed camcorder and extra batteries he just didn't know it. I couldn't leave behind all of my equipment. :ashamed0002:


People were beginning to stir and PWN were looking at the wagon wheels, none were please as to what they found. The trip down with locked wheels had worn the wheels but not beyond use. Sf said if we had to lock the wheels again then we would have to make sure that the worn part was not on the ground but we should be ok to get down the mountain.


Breakfast was a grand affair, Chef had out done himself, he said that he figured everyone would be starved this morning after two days of hard work and eating very little last night. Mother must have helped him, there were sweet rolls, biscuits, eggs, sausage, flap jacks, oh my it was a feast. :feedme:




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Like everyone elso who dared to look over the side before hooking up the wagons for the 'ride' down the slope, My thoughts were of all the things in the wagon that had made it this far just to be dumped all over the trail when the wagon tips over. But, just like everybody else, all fears were for not as the crew did a great job of getting the teams to 'walk' down that incline as the horses did their job of holding them back with the cable.

Now it was time to get the buggy down and there was no way Morgan (the horse) was going down that slope with the buggy. But none of the oxen were skinny enough to pull the buggy so we had to come up with something else? That something else was that I would 'be the horse' and take it down! Knowing that the 'log brake' would just bust up the wheels we tied ropes through the spokes and up though the doors of the buggy and tied together so there would not move and after talking it over with a few members turned the buggy around so I could lower it down the whole way to the bottom. Thank goodness the horses by this time had it down pat about just how much pull to put in that cable because it was like I was just backing up the buggy to put away in the barn. I think it was a good thing that I was in the back 'walking' with the buggy in front of me, because if I had seen the angle we were at for most of the trip I don't think I would have made it? How did we get the horses and oxen to do that? But with buggy and wagon both down and Lori breathing again back at the top ,it was also back up to the top for me so I could help get the last few wagons down. When I got back up and met up with Lori she gave me a hand full of grass and patted my head saying:

" Thats a Good Boy, Good Horse" !


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This is one place I am so happy to have the hubby along! I kept looking over the edge, down that steep path, then over the edge again. I am SO afraid of heights that I keep having to remember to breathe, one, two, three, four. Breathe in, breath out. Whew. Is this one of those little gulley's? :rolleyes: I saw Mt.R. and Mother watching the guys take the wagons down so I got behind them quietly and watched too. It was as if the men had been doing this all along. They moved like a well-oiled machine. One hooked up the cable, two would put the pole through the back wheels, another one would check the hitchings on the oxen and one checked the horses. Over and over, wagon after wagon they went. There were a few mishaps along the way but nothing that got anyone or anything hurt.


We decided to stay up top the first night and hubby fell right to sleep, almost exhausted from all the hard physical labor during the day. He had worked himself beyond his usual and I knew the next morning he wouldn't be moving well, if at all. That had me worrying that he may not be up to driving the wagon down that steep slant of a path. So, what would happen if it was me that had to drive down it?? and with as much as I hate heights?? Ha, I would have to drive without a blindfold too. This was too serious to be messing around. Hubby snored and I worried. Such went the first night....


The next morning, they guys were right back at it again. Our wagon was to be the second one down today. I was thankful for that since it gave hubby a chance to loosen up and get a good bunch of coffee down him before even trying to get that wagon going. Maybe there was another way? Where is that helicopter when you need it?? I saw hubby coming from the fire where everyone had been eating breakfast, two cups of coffee in hand. I got a scolding for skipping breakfast again, but I was so wound up that I just couldn't stand the thought of eating until we were all down off of here safely. We both stood there quietly looking out over the land, sharing coffee together. The lake had the sun on it today and it shown like diamonds flickering all over it's surface, dancing around like gems in a roller. How pretty even if it was cold up here. I wondered what it was like down there, next to the water? Hubby has grown up on the water, always near a river. I knew he was looking at the lake and could see him following the path of the rivers, especially the southern one. I had to ask him what he was thinking even though I already knew the answer. "So," I said, "what are you thinking hon? Are you wanting us to live on the river? I know you have always been on one your whole life and I don't want you to have to change that now. Just because we live in a different part of the country doesn't mean you have to give up the water too." "Yep," he said, "I do want to live back on the water. I don't think I want to live on the lake so much any more. I'm not as young as I once was. I think I would rather live on a slow moving river or even just a good sized stream would suit me now. Just so that we will have water, one way or the other, year round." I just squeezed his hand gently letting him know that I loved him and we would do what he thought best. My eyes followed the South river off of the lake, down below the dam until it went out of sight behind a big grove of trees. Such a beautiful place to call home! I was getting antsy to get down there and stake out a claim. B)


Michael called the hubby over to the wagons and I followed along for a bit, staying off to the side out of the way of all the people working to get us down off of the mountainside and into the valley below. I watched as they attached the cable to the wagon, checked the harnesses, hooked up horses and put the pole in the back wheels, missing the spot where there was a spoke still gone from the last time we had to try this little trick. That's when we were getting away from the floods caused by the Chinook. Hubby climbed up into the wagon, ready to slowly head the oxen on down the trail. I went through everything I did that morning in my head battening down the hatches for the ride down. I just hoped the chickens would co-operate since I had thrown a cover over their cage. We didn't need them squawking and flying around today. I prayed hard that everything stayed secured while he was edging the wagon downward. Little by little they went, with me at the top watching and praying. I think I forgot to breathe more than once. One time before they were half way down I felt a gentle hand on my shoulder and someone telling me to sit down before I fell down!


So I sat, they drove and before I knew it, my hubby and our wagon was safely down to the next clearing. :darlenedance: I wanted to jump up and shout or run right down the trail and plant a big wet kiss on the hubby! :wub:I had watched him wincing, trying to hide the pain. He had a time keeping the oxen doing as they should, but he managed. Just like I knew that he would. He was a man I could count on, one who never gave up and didn't know the meaning of the word, no matter how bad he was feeling. I promised myself to remember to scratch his back tonight until he fell asleep, one of his favorite things. :kissy:


We both hung around the top after he climbed back up the trail. We helped the others get down too and bring down any livestock needing it and checking around the campsite to make sure nothing was left there that wasn't supposed to be. Then we took that long steep walk down off the last mountain that lead to home.


It was a bit sad knowing that our trip would soon be ending, that all of these people we had both come to know and admire would soon scatter all over the valley and not be as close as a call out the back of the wagon. I was going to miss being that close to everyone. It would take some getting used to, us being alone in the boonies again. But there would be barn raising's to help with, meetings to go to, church to attend and things that would need done between neighbors. I'm sure we wouldn't be lonely too long.


And then there was the other hand, we weren't ending things, we were beginning them. This was a new life ahead of us. One we would create all on our own. We would carve out our own place on the land. It wouldn't be tamed for sure, but it would be worked. There was a house to build, a barn to build, chicken coop, outhouse, etc...all that needed to be carved out of this wilderness on our own land, by us. No, we weren't ending anything...we were just starting!



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Morning came early for me, knowing we would get to see the Valley for the first time, now that the day was here, we were faced with the challenge to transverse the steep grade.


From our vantage point, here at the apex of the mountain, we could easily see most of the valley. Forests beginning to bud light greens that contrasted the crystal blue of the lake. Hills shrouded by tree tops blending into the landscape gently sloping toward the lower valley. The far mountains still capped in snow glistening as the sun crested the horizon. A breathtaking sight that was peaceful, inviting and intriguing. I glanced back one more time, before heading to the meeting about getting us down the other side. The pulley system was ingenious and I watched intently as the first few wagons were carefully maneuvered into place and escorted down the trail. Hurriedly, I covered the bird cages and checked the tightness of the ropes holding everything down.


Big D's wagon was next, as seamless as the routine had become, I had to subdue my apprehension and watched as it passed the boulders safely near the bottom. As the wagon turned the corner, I could see James giving the thumbs-up signal back up at us, then, it disappeared into the trees.


Big D's buggy went down almost toppling at the rut midway. A hoot from someone and it was up-righted as quickly as it had tipped. Big D almost squeezed the life out of my arm as we stood there watching. The ropes they used to tie the wheels worked as well on her buggy as on AH's.


GS used the quad to get some of the men back up the hill and take Mother's Mother, Big D and a few others who were not as sure footed down. He commented he thought his mother bruised his ribs as hard as she was hanging on.


I used my walking stick to come down behind our wagon. Once down to the pull off, I gathered some wood and started a small camp fire to help ease the stress of the day and make it possible for those who wanted to cook or warm up. With only half of us safely down the incline, it was difficult for me to sleep well. I sat at the fire most of the night dozing occasionally, listening to the silence of the night, and watching the stars.


As dawn broke, everyone got up early and got right back to the task of getting everyone else safely off the mountain top. The quad still had three quarters of a tank left and was used again to give rides back up the incline and down with people and boxes. By the time everyone was down, he had half of a tank left.


You could tell by the end of the day, everyone was beat from the work and stress of the last two days, by the subdued conversations, yet, there was an air of excitement for what our futures hold.


I fed and watered our animals, made GS a bowl of chicken soup and we laid down for the night, relieved no one was hurt.



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As I looked out over the valley all that I could think was Thank You, Lord. Thank You for bringing us safely to this place and please guide the hands that would take us down into this beautiful valley. And then I look out upon the Majestic Beauty that He has provided for us and it takes my breath away.


Then I want to know who has the blindfold for me…… :0327:


I volunteered to stay at the clearing at the top to keep the kids busy as everyone else either helped to lower the wagons or watched as they were lowered. I knew that I would be a basket case and wouldn’t do any good if I stood there watching. My DD says that when I watch her do something I make her more nervous because I tend to catch my breath and hold it.


So the kids and I played Red Rover and Red Light, Green Light. Then we talked about the adventures that we had on the wagon train and tried to imagine what life in the valley would be like. It amazes me how much they had all “grown up” since we had started on our journey. No longer were they the soft, spoiled 21st century children that had no idea what hard work was, but they were eager to help start our community. Just as we adults had formed the bonds of friendship and hard work, so had they.


As the last wagon went down the incline, I told them that it was time for us to gather up the belongings that we were to carry down the “hill” and be ready when we were called to go over. Each older child had chosen a younger one to buddy up with and I watched as the older kids helped the younger ones strap on the light backpacks that they would be carrying, then they strapped on the heavier burdens that they would carry. Then it was our turn to start down the hill……


We managed to get down without too many problems….just a few bumps and scrapes. OGS went down part way on his backside, but he thought that it was so much fun that he wanted to do it again! :cele: Whew! Now I can breathe….at least for a minute or two!


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Well camp was pretty quiet tonight. Chef was kind enough to fix dinner for us all, again, with a few helpers. I think we were all just so tired from either getting the wagons down the first stretch or from bing so keyed up about those that were doing the actual driving that it wore us down too! Hubby has been doing his level best tonight to hide the pain but the limping and favoring of his joints kind of gave that away PDQ. He never has been able to hide that from me. And while I sit here writing, I can hear him moaning in his sleep when he moves at all. I do worry about him and wonder if we are going to need to be closer to town than either of us would like to be for the medical care. Even being a nurse, I can only do so much...but for now, I am NOT going to worry about it. Not until he says something.


It's cool outside tonight too. Since there is still snow on the mountain tops, it's no wonder. There is a breeze freshening, bring the wind down from there and carrying with it the cold off of the snow. I think we are going to need another quilt or two before the night is over. I have a couple extras handy just in case. I don't want to completely close up the back of the wagon just yet though. I like looking out at the night sky. You can see the moon and stars so clearly here. I do imagine that's from the lack of pollution, car exhaust, etc...hanging in the air. It's so clear and smells so good here. You can smell the pines most of the time almost like it's just gotten done raining or something. Some times it's so strong that you would think you had a pine branch right under your nose! Good thing I like trees lol. I am hoping we have some nice ones at our place. A big live oak would be nice right over the front porch and part of the house for the shade. But I don't suppose they have live oaks up in these parts. That's something that is a Southern thing. One of the many I will miss for awhile until we get used to being here instead of there.


I found myself doing that a lot tonight, wondering and planning on what we wanted at our new place. It was okay planning and such before now. Trying to imagine what it might look like through the descriptions of others and the way they had seen it. Like trying to spin cloth out of gossamer threads lol. But it gave us a starting place. But now, yeah now that we had seen the country all laid out in front of us like that from the top of this mountain, it was a whole different ball game. And as I walked around the camp tonight I could hear couples in hushed tones talking about that very same thing that we were talking about. The reality of what we saw versus what we had planned and did we need to change anything now from that? It was kind of funny that we all split up into little family groups, all talking about the same thing. But no one was sitting around the fire talking about it openly. I imagine that is one of those things that families have to work out first among themselves before they will discuss it with others. I bet tomorrow night, if we all have the chance to, will be sitting around a fire talking and asking each other about all of this. I don't think much of our plans will change. We were just so awe struck with the beauty of it all. There are some things words wont adequately describe and the beauty of this valley was one of those things.


I just wish my mind would shut off so I could get some sleep instead of replaying that video in my mind of looking over the edge of the mountain and seeing the valley all laid out below lol. Maybe if I close this journal and put out the light and lay down, it might help some! :rolleyes: There are a few clouds blowing in now too I see. They are thickening up too. The moon keeps trying to hide behind them more often now than when I started writing this. I just hope we don't end up with rain tomorrow. Ugh, that would be a mess. Wagons going down a steep trail, mud everywhere and having to get out and walk in it also. And if it's raining, there wont be too much of a fire going to get close too and warm up at either. Let's hope the rains hold off until we get down off this mountain...night all and God bless...



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" G O O D M O R N I N G Everyone!"

Well THAT was Fun comeing down that slope - not!


Coffee is on as well as some water for those who might like some tea or hot cocoa.


Well, we are DOWN! But still have to get to the bottom of the valley before we start across on the 'trail' that will lead us to the Lodge.


AS we start getting the teams all hitched again and the animals all lined up for the 'Wagon Train' everyone is just a bit excited knowing we are SO close now to being " HOME".


A few of the men had gone off this morning to check out the place we came down and they came to the same conclution we had last night. There is NO WAY we are going back up that trail (AKA drop off) so we are here for good!


Just so I can bet Mt_Rider to it.............................


"WAGONS HO!" (he,he that felt good)

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Thunder woke me before light and I could hear water running under the wagon. I suppose camping on a hill on an almost bare track was going to give us mud in the morning but I tried to ignore it and go back to sleep. Sleep eluded me though and I lay snuggled in my covers, just listening to the rain beat down.


I knew we would be leaving the mountainside this morning even if it were raining when we got ready to go. We had no clean water supply here and according to Mr. J there was a spring further down the trail. There was also not a lot of graze for the animals and they needed it badly after the work they'd done the last few days. According to him we should be at the lodge by late afternoon if not before. Unless, I said to myself, we are held up by this thunderstorm turning paths to mud. I hoped not.


It wasn't long though before the rain stopped and I could hear someone starting a fire. I peeked out and saw it was Michael with Chef standing beside him. I crawled out of bed to go help with the breakfast I knew was planned for everyone. I knew the fast we got going, the faster we'd get there.


The sun was shining through by the time we were all ready to move out but I could see big thunderheads roiling over the mountains. I prayed they would hold off until we got to the valley floor. I could hardly wait to get to that lodge, the talisman that substituted for home.


Our wagon, having been the first down off the pass, was the first on the trail and I pitied those coming behind. The trail was almost solid mud causing both the horses and the wagon to slip and slide around and it was all I could do to keep them moving down. They were tired from the strain of the last few days, unused muscles probably screaming in protest. We were all tired and feeling the same way. By mid morning though, with the ground quickly drying underfoot we were making better time. I wondered how the water was disappearing so fast but didn't stop in my mind to figure it out, it was too beautiful a day to do more than enjoy the scenery.


All morning we traveled back and forth, switching directions from North to South and then down a slippery slide and back North again. I realized that we were going from plateau to plateau and that it was the only way possible to get down but it was adding miles and hours to our descent. The trees were dense and I could see where they had been cut in places to forge the trail. We stopped several times to remove fallen trees from our path and once we had to lever a big boulder out of the way. So many places along the way had precarious looking rock formations and I carefully watched the uphill sides of the trail in case more should fall. Not that I would know what to do if they did come tumbling at me but I wanted to at least have the chance to react if they did. Occasionally I caught glimpses of the lake and valley below. The views were spectacular with acres of verdant green interspersed with the stark browns of bare trees. At one point I could actually see the roof of what I assumed was the lodge near the lake. It almost seemed to be calling to me to hurry but the horse, which once had been so eager to barrel through each hill and dale, now that I wanted them to put on speed, were content to plod along.


We stopped for water at noon, allowing each wagon to pull up to a heavily flowing spring. The water came right out of the hillside between two big trees. It flowed into a small rock basin below where the water pooled before running away through the trees. It was on the down hill side of the trail but in looking through the trees I wondered if the water crossed the trail further down and we'd have to wade through it there. We each filled our water barrels but didn't attempt to fill the water wagon, We planned to be at the lodge before needing it.


There was more of the same terrain for the next couple of hours but by three o'clock we were seeing glimpses of the lake through the trees and an excitement began to take hold of us all. We were almost 'home'. I wasn't looking forward to driving over the log bridge that Mr. Hughes said was across the Northeast river. I had learned in past experiences that the horses were really touchy about those crossings and if I heard right, this bridge didn't even have sides on it. It was just split logs laid across between the banks.


I guess I shouldn't have worried. I could hear the rushing of the water directly ahead of us and I knew it was only a short distance to the lodge from the river and I was more than ready to cross that bridge to get there even if it meant walking the horses myself. Mr. Hughes was riding ahead and I saw him stop on a rise in the trail and then turn back pushing his horse into a trot.




"Mother, we'd better circle the wagons here," he said as he stopped by the wagon. "We aren't going any further today. The river is running out of its banks and the bridge is gone!"

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Splashing through the mud

In an ox drawn covered wagon

Through the hills we go

Screaming all the way.

Wagons tilting and swaying

making hairs stand on end Oh

What fun it is to ride and sing

country songs today,


So I am not composer but hey what else is there to do besides hang on the seat for dear life. Besides being towards the back is no fun today. The trail (at least that is what I think we are on) is horrible. With all the rain and other wagons it is rutted beyond repair. Being at the back doesn’t help much either. Our 3rd wagon got stuck so we had to dig it out then lay down branches to get it going again. I lost my shoe the mud sucked it right off my foot. Thank goodness SF was close by so he could retrieve my boot for me. I had my galoshes on and they just don’t do well in mud; should have pulled out my cowgirl boots.


The view was still breath taking even though the rain and as the sun come out and hit the lake oh man it was I could do not to stop the wagon and stand up and look. They say we will be at the lodge by night fall I can’t wait. This part seems longer than the whole trail ride put together. So close but yet so far. SIGH...ARE WE THERE YET?!?!?!?


Over the hills and through the woods

To our new home we go

Mud ball battles making spirits light

Oh what fun is ride and sing country songs today


If the little stream we stopped at noon is in indication of what is to come oh my we are in for a wonderful treat. The water was cool and tasted wonderful. It was nice to go down stream a little and wash the mud off too even though it was still rather cold. I could have sat by that bubbling brook with a book all day it was so peaceful. I was so thankful when SF said he would take over the reigns and ride with me my arms had had about all they could handle after the morning episode of mud wrestling.


As we continued down towards the river SF and I talked about where we would like to build our little spot in this paradise…did we want mountains, or did we want the valley or did we want on the water? I asked if we could have all three. As we plodded along it was real quite just the sound of hooves hitting the ground, goats and sheep bleating, chicken’s clucking. Every once in a while you could hear Mt.Rider’s donkey MM but I think even the animals knew we were close and they were content with where they were headed.


Wait why are we stopping? Why are they circling the wagons? We were supposed to be at the lodge tonight. As SF sets the brake P rides up and tell us the bad news…the river is out of it banks and the bridge was gone. As SF circled the wagon into place it hit me like a ton of bricks…WAIT the bridge we were to cross is gone? Looking at the clouds and hearing the rushing water my heart sinks to my stomach. That could only mean one of two things…wait until the river goes down and build a new bridge or cross without a bridge…my vote is build a bridge. Oh I do hope my vote counts. We have come this far with just a few problems and one major problem thanks to a certain mayor. I don’t want to cross this angry river without a bridge. You know something honey I like this area just fine. This would make a good garden spot and we could build right up there…..





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"So close.... yet so far"

I can't believe that we are just on the other side from the Lodge and we have to stop AGAIN! I can SEE it just over on that small knoll by the lake calling us to come into the warm insides and build a fire so we can all be together INSIDE!


Everyone was looking at the map that Mr.H had and trying to figure out where the best place to build a home would be. After being together for so long on this Wagon trip it seems funny that we get to pick land that will be miles from anybody else and that we may go days without see each other. Someone said we should all build one big farmhouse and all live together 'Hippie' style. LOL


Well, seeing there is nothing we can do tonight we better find a place to put the animals and get a fire going before it gets to dark. A few have gone off to look for firewood but I bet they are going over to those hills jjust to see what land is on the other side. ;)


Good Night everyone.........see ya in the morning.




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The last few days have been trying for everyone in the train. Now we are faced with still another delay and still another challenge. Then the rain came. Not just rain but a storm that sent all of us running to our wagons with sinking hearts. It was hoped that the water would recede by morning but every drop of rain that falls makes that seem more and more impossible.


Mom and Dh are asleep. Even Sasha and pups are asleep. The whole wagon smells of wet dog. No, that's not exactly correct. It smells of BIG wet dog and fast growing puppies. I am tired and chilled to my insides but from the weather or the churning fear that I hear calling from the rushing waters of the river I can't tell.


Perhaps it is because there is so much water setting around even under the wagons. It was impossible to keep a fire going because of the water filling the fire pit. I have a vague uneasy feeling. I have been in many floods in my time, even lived in our home twice for weeks surrounded by flood water. Sloshing back to the wagon tonight, my boots sucking at the mud felt too familiar. At least the herders have taken the animals back into the trees where they have higher ground and the protection of the pines. It must be a miserable night for the animals and herders alike. Our DGSs are out there for half the night. I'm glad they both have full rain gear.


Tomorrow. We will most likely know tomorrow what our next step will be.


"Quiet Sasha, it's just thunder. Go to sleep. We both need sleep. "





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I am going to add this here for a start then add another entry into the journal later. But right now, peeking out of the back of the wagon and from the sounds of the water flowing quicker and quicker, hubby thinks we need to move the wagon train back AWAY from the lake and the river. He says if it is already over it's banks, washed the bridge away, then we have NO business being this close to it. He said it would be different if we had all been here before and knew how the river acted when she went over her banks. But right now, it's an unknown. And he is afraid that if it floods further, from the lay of this land he thinks it will flood back behind us too. That will leave us out on an island of sorts with no way of getting us all safely to dry land since you never want to cross unknown water since you don't know how deep it is in spots.


So, not wanting to see anyone or any animals drown, he is going to talk to Mother, Mt.R, and Mr. H this morning and see about getting us all moved out away from the water. What does everyone else think about this idea??



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Well getting down off of the last mountain the rest of the way wasn't easy nor fun but we all did it!! Yipeee!! We are now home!!!! I was beginning to think we wouldn't ever make it. There were so many obstacles in our way just getting a wagon and getting it packed up, let alone getting on the trail with all the wonderful people we have come to know and love over the past weeks. I just kept thinking about those good things on the last part of the trip down the mountain into the valley below. We were wiped out when we got to the bottom and I had thought maybe we could all take a breather for the day, but others wanted to push on and try to get to the lodge by sunset or there abouts. I don't blame them one bit. But for us older folks, it takes a lot out of a body to keep pushing like we have been. And it takes out precious little of what we have left. That's going to leave some to be getting sick before long if we don't all slow it down a bit. I know we are working against the clock here, but some things can't be helped. And what if they do get sick, where will that put them on the race to getting a garden in and barns built by winter? I just keep praying for those of us who are not young and in the peak of health. Like Mt.R.'s (both of them), Mother, hubby, etc.. And I was looking at the map of the valley too thinking how I wished those like them would take places that were warm. I see Mother has one spot with hot springs. I know that will help her and her mother a lot. Or take a spot that has an existing structure on it, no matter how bad it is. It would still be a help. Ah well, never mind. Some times I wonder how I get off on these bunny trails in my journal LOL!! Back to the story...


So, here we are at a spring at the bottom of the mountain. Nice place too! Running water into a pool, peaceful and quiet, well shaded with some open land over off to the west of the pool that would make a nice garden and a bit downhill from the pool so that would make nice irrigation! Hey, now we may need to find a place like this to the south, if there is one. That's what I was thinking anyways. Now, later, I don't know. It's too cold there on the east side of the valley. Takes too long to get the sun on it to warm it up. Oh well it was a thought. Hubby is still sleeping right now, but I had to take a few minutes to catch this journal up. I don't want to get here and miss writing that down as much as we have been looking forward to it!! Yeah and about that....well we got everyone going again after resting at the pool for a bit. It seemed like we were going back up hills and then down them again. I had to wonder if we had to go back into the mountains for a bit to get to the lodge? It didn't look like the lake was getting any farther away from us though. It stayed pretty constant on the left of us. And it sure is pretty too. Since at this point, I was just along for the ride lol, I had time to look at the land and the trees. And that lake. Something about the water draws me to it. Did the same to my dad and granddad too. They were Navy men and I was a Navy brat. Even after they got out, they still had places on the water. I grew up around it and so had my hubby. I didn't want him to have to leave the water and become a total "flatlander". Maybe we could find land on the river south of here or at the south end of the lake? I had a feeling that was where we were going to start our search for land at. :rolleyes::D But we never got away from the lake too far. We rode along and hubby relaxed a little on the oxen. They seemed to have the hang of this pulling a wagon lol. Finally. So I kept pointing out some of the nice tree stands and such and he kept talking about the lake lol. About water lol. So what happens, it starts a raining again. And the wagons are stopping??? Circling??? I had to wonder what was going on here because the only time we had circled wagons was if there was a problem or we were stopping for the night. Huh? So we sat and waited to hear something. One of the younger kids rode back and told us what had happened. That we got to the river and the bridge with the lead wagon, but since it had been raining here so much that the river had flooded over its banks and took the bridge with it!! So, here we sit...so close but so very far away from the lodge. :o:(:yar: Well now we have the wagons circled and it's so dern wet outside that you can't make a fire. At least it isn't below zero out there and we can kind of keep warm with all the mutts in here lol. And it is so discouraging to come this far through all that we have been through to get this close to the lodge, warmth and hot food to have to sit out here in the rain and cold in the wagon still is just ....well...it just makes me want to cry. But I wont give in to it. One thing I have learned is that you can't just give up out here. It could mean the difference between living and dying. So I have learned not to give up on anything at all. I'll sit here and let myself be discouraged for a little while. But I will also let that motivate me to think a way out of this mess too. So what can we do to get to the lodge from here? I wonder if there are any other ways around this river, even if it means we have to back up close to the mountains and go around the long way. If we just sit here and wait for the river to go down with it still raining, that could take days and days. So could going around. So I wonder if they will just decide for us to sit and wait or go around a different way?


Or, should we just all split up from here and go our own ways now to find our places and then meet up again at the lodge, say in two weeks? I wonder how well that idea would go over lol. Since we are going south from here anyways I have an idea that hubby wouldn't mind us taking off and going to stake out a claim from here. And since we will most likely be building our place near the water, if the land is flooded, that will give us a really good idea how far back away from the river we would need to put the house and structures so that they don't get flooded out. Or worse, washed away in the river! Yep, it might not be too bad of an idea to go have a look/see at the land now for those of us wanting to be on the water. Have to ask hubby about that when he wakes up, just in case. I can't just see us sitting here and doing nothing though! I am going to look for my newspaper today and start making seed pots. If I get enough made today then I will start putting soil in them tomorrow and get some tomatoes and pepper plants going. Maybe a few others too like eggplant and the likes. Most of our other seeds though get planted right into the ground. I just can't sit here doing nothing! Well see yall in the morning. Night and God bless...




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Dear Diary,


The view coming down yesterday was spectacular there were times I just wanted to stop the wagon and soak it all in. The sun reflecting off the lake was magnificent. I can’t wait to get to our new home. The trees are starting to bud the grass has that spring green look. Yes it looks like spring is in the air. Ever once in a while we catch a glimpse of baby animals, the birds are chirping. Hopefully next week or two we will have a garden planted. I noticed last night that my peppers and tomatoes were starting to come up, the lettuce is about 2 inches high and everything else in starter trays is starting to push through and sprout. Now if the cold will just go away; can’t afford to loose these seedlings.


We are finally at the bottom of the ‘hill” as it was so lovingly called only to find a river out of banks and the bridge washed away. To make matters worse it rained all night and by the looks of the standing water outside the wagon there will be no fire this morning. I am not liking this at all. I have been in one flood in before and that was in NOLA and I remember how fast the water rose (IRL it wasn’t even Katrina it was just a normal rainy day and the pump on our canal failed.)SF saw the fear in my eyes and has sent W&N back to the tree line to see where it dries out some. He is sloshing over to Mother, MtRider and Mr. H right now. He is going to talk to them about us moving away from the river some more just to keep me calm. He said if it keeps raining we may need to go back up to the brook where we stopped yesterday. At least there was grass there for the animals.


If it keeps raining like this I am not sure how or when we are going to cross the river. Nope don’t like the looks of this at all. What makes it worse this is not a normal rain it is a storm with heavy rains. That river is going to swell even more before the day is over.


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I am going to add this here for a start then add another entry into the journal later. But right now, peeking out of the back of the wagon and from the sounds of the water flowing quicker and quicker, hubby thinks we need to move the wagon train back AWAY from the lake and the river. He says if it is already over it's banks, washed the bridge away, then we have NO business being this close to it. He said it would be different if we had all been here before and knew how the river acted when she went over her banks. But right now, it's an unknown. And he is afraid that if it floods further, from the lay of this land he thinks it will flood back behind us too. That will leave us out on an island of sorts with no way of getting us all safely to dry land since you never want to cross unknown water since you don't know how deep it is in spots.


So, not wanting to see anyone or any animals drown, he is going to talk to Mother, Mt.R, and Mr. H this morning and see about getting us all moved out away from the water. What does everyone else think about this idea??






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Good Morning all on this wonderful day!


OK so I am trying to make the best of it seeing we are still not able to go out and see our Homestead land.


I guess I better go and get the cow milked and see what everyone else is up to today. Man I wish those dogs would quick barking over by that small rise, just what did they find over there anyway?



Here comes one of the men that had the last watch up the hill with the animals maybe he knows what’s up?


Oh great one of the “B’s” groups oxen has gotten lose and is now stuck in the mud down by the river. Yes I will help get her out, go and see who else is up and able to lend a hand and see who else has ropes we can use I’ll get mine out of the buggy and met you over there. And find out whose dogs are barking as we don’t need them over there when we try and pull that beast out of the mud.



Well she got herself stuck good, right up to her belly and here comes another one to see what is going on. Can one of you stop that Ox, we don’t need two of them stuck in the mud. Turns out it was the other Ox in the team, seems they like to be together if pulling a wagon or just grazing? But they are NOT going to be together now, it will take all we can do just to pull this one out and get her to dry land.



Back to the wagon for some coffee and let everyone know what all the noise was that they heard going on over the knoll. Boy, those Oxen can pull wagons up and down hills and pull all the heavy weight but when you try and pull them it is a whole different story!



So now what are we doing for fun the rest of this morning?







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(Suspending the animation until others get a chance to post their ideas. Tomorrow will still be our UN-today.....if that makes any sense LOL. I'm looking forward to more posts on our UN-today. [You CAN post here yet] Did anyone tell me it would be easy to pull off this UNReality thing? SHERI?) :0327:



Edited by Mother
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I woke up late, sore and still tired. My back, legs and feet screamed at me as I climbed out from our sleeping bag, GS had gotten up without waking me. I could hear the sounds of everyone taking care of the animals as I sat there stretching, thinking how nice it will be to get to the Lodge, then climbed out the back with a pail of grain to feed the cow, but she was already eating and almost finished. Oxen were being hitched and everyone seemed ready to go. Groggily, I put the feed back and rearranged the sleeping bag into a makeshift chair about the time AH shouted "Wagons Ho!" Moments later, DH was on the seat with the reigns in his hands. Briefly, I thought that he must really be excited about this being our last day on the trail.


As we made our way down the trail, the anticipation mounted with every glimpse of the lake, fields and Lodge. There were times as we switched back, that it seemed we were moving away from our destination, but with the size of some of the hills and the thickness of the forest, it was apparent that the trail was taking the path of least resistance.


During our lunch stop, GS helped fill several of the bottles we had dumped up on the mountain. I filled and capped them, and marked them "Mtn Stream", he carried them and put them away separate from the unopened ones. As we finished up, GS had gotten into the last of our jerky and was ready to move out.


Stopping had rejuvenated me, walking around talking with everyone, watching the kids run about playing, animals grazing, and people socializing sharing their hopes of the 'perfect' place. Once we were back on the trail, it occurred to me that I really hadn't given it much thought lately. Anyplace that had water to drink, grass for the cow and a small plot for a garden would be fine for me, just as long as I didn't have to live in this wagon forever, I would be a happy camper.


I moved up and sat next to GS to get a good look at the terrain of "Our Valley". Huge trees made up most of the forest, peppered with vegetation. I wanted to jump off and explore to see what some of them were, but decided there would be plenty of time to explore once we were settled in. I sure hope no one gets rattled when I go for a walk about and end up crossing their property. :busted:


When our train began circling early, we figured our group either needed a break or there was another obstacle that needed to be resolved. Hearing the rushing water of the river suggested that it might have something to do with why we stopped. I hopped down and was met by Mother who explained the situation, she was heading towards Mt_Riders wagon as I turned to inform my dearest. He gave a sigh and began unhitching the ox.


We listened as the conversations centered on crossing the river, what to do and how to do it. Building a replacement bridge would entail cutting trees, latching them together, making it large enough for our wagons and animals to cross yet light enough to be moved into place. If everyone worked together, it might take less than a week. Other suggestions of waiting for it to subside could also take more than a week. Concerns began circulating about the clouds that were building, if more rain came, waiting for it to go down could even take longer. The map didn't show a river near the entrance of the valley which means that we still weren't that close to the Lodge.


After some time, GS suggested we go for a walk and take a look at this river. The bridge point seemed the most logical point to cross. Someone had built rock slabs on both banks to support the logs which were no where to be seen. The river seemed to be flowing consistently, clarity had much to be desired with all the mud and debris it was collecting. We walked quite some time down stream surveying the banks for a possible secure path, discussing whether we wanted to dive in and check for an area that could be used to cross safely. We decided it was already too late in the day to be soaking ourselves, walked back planning to go upstream in the morning. We both agreed that the debris from the bridge would be another obstacle we didn't want to encounter.


The next morning we were wakened by the thunder and the smell of rain in the air and when it began to fall in sheets, we found shelter in the wagon. GS picked up his book and I immersed myself in finishing a doily I was tatting. I grabbed a bucket and collected some rain water for my tomato plants that had survived and the pomegranate tree, occasionally looking out to see if the clouds were subsiding.


Lunch and dinner were simple, smoked venison wrapped in a corn tortilla warmed on our BBQ using a small amount of wood we have left.

Edited by Annarchy
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Well it was decided that we would move our wagons back towards the tree line which I was much thankful of, that rising water was beginning to really unnerve me. We also decided to saddle up the horses and SF, P, N and myself would start searching the land this side of the river. A is not comfortable on horseback and opted to stay behind to tend the animals so W is staying with her. We looked at the map and decided to head south towards the Trapper's Cabin and the old homestead.


So with radios in hand and the digital camera the four of us started out. Looking back I saw the concern in Mother's and Mt. Rider's eyes but I promised them we would be extra cautious. We all had side arms and rifles. The signal of 3 rapid guns shots would be our distress call plus we had the radios. I had to pull out my stash that I had bought when we were back at the ranch when P was in the hospital but that is ok this is what I bought them for.


As we rode along the land was nothing like we expected to find. Looking past the standing water we noticed the land was rather level much like you expect to find a the floor of a valley. From what we could tell the soil was rich and fertile. Once the ground dries not only will there be plentiful grazing but lots of land for gardens. The river was swollen all the way down to the old homestead and the water was up to the porch so we did not go in. But from what we could tell it would not take much work to make it livable again. There was already fencing up and it look good for the most part. There were a couple of areas that would need work. The barn would need to be replaced. The roof looks like a tree fell though it. SF said he would probably take the barn down and rebuild it. There loft was rotted and the stalls were past repair. As we turned towards the east it was starting to get dark and we pushed to get to the trapper's cabin before night fall. We didn't want to be astride the horses in unfamiliar territory in the dark.


As we arrived at the trappers cabin we found it in good condition. Well it was dry at least and there was not standing water around the door. We did find some dry wood to start a fire. We were all wet and hungry. Since the to dark to explore we opted to start the fire and have the biscuits and venison that we brought with us. We will look around more tomorrow but for now we are rolling out our sleeping bags and sleeping somewhere that doesn't have wheels for the first time in many many weeks.

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Well after talking things over, we decided to head south and take a look around. On the map we were given, there was a stand of trees at the end of a small river between the trappers cabin and the old homestead place. That was our destination. :D Since no one from this party had been down that way, we thought it would be at worth a look and see. We figured the small river was mostly run off from the mountains or it could be a spring fed one? Only way to find out...go investigate! So we let the others know of our plans, hitched the oxen back up and headed out. Being that it was still morning, we figured we could make it there with plenty of time to look around before dark. We would stay in the wagon over night and head back in the morning to join the rest of the group. We had seen mt3b's group head out before us, but since we hadn't firmed up our plans yet, we weren't sure if we would go that way or not. So, we just let them go on ahead. Why hold them up if we didn't have to and we were all well armed and would be close to them if they needed help or if we did too. Just had to fire three shots in the air and I knew someone would come riding over.


We stayed within sight of the swollen river as far as we could. Still raining down this way too but seemed lighter than farther north of us. Looking up, you could tell that the sky here was a little lighter. We saw horse tracks in the wet ground around us and knew we were going the right direction. Well that and hubby's trusty pocket compass! Some of the trees were starting to bud out and I watched them carefully while sneezing into my hankie. Great, pollen already. So if I am sneezing, there has to be some red oaks around here. Nice wood to build with! The grass was starting to come up too and it just looked to be the run of the mill prairie grasses so far. But, if we had to build a house, it would make a nice sod roof. We were happy so far with what we were seeing. And as we rode along looking at everything, I pulled out a bit of dried fruit and some of our deer jerky to munch on for lunch. I figured with all the looking around we wanted to do, no sense filling up and getting sleepy lol. You can't look around if you got your eyes shut and snoring! So munch we did and kept riding. I thought we should have been there by now, so we got out the map after stopping the wagon to take a look at it.


Okay, we were at the big bend in the river to the south, so we started out due east for a few miles. Getting away from the river, the trees thickened up some here. The grasses stayed about the same but it was a darker green. Humm..I had hubby stop the wagon and jumped down off. Grabbing a hand full of new grass I yanked it up out of the earth. Turning it over I found just what I thought I would...dark black earth! You could spit in that kind of land and it would grow! Oh wow, this was what I was wanting for soil too. Now if it just held to the grove we would be in business. So I got back on the wagon when hubby reminded me that daylight was a wasting and we took off again, still heading straight due east. We hit an area where the trees thinned back out again so we headed just to the South this time. We must be going back up in elevation just a bit here because the land was starting a gentle rolling of hillside. We came over the first rise and off in the distance you could see a very thick stand of trees, almost like a mini forest in the middle of all the grass. Hubby said "There it is darlin', that's the place we want to look at. See the little river over to the east going into the trees?" Yep I told him. I do see it! We took off as fast as oxen can go, which isn't that fast lol. Not unless THEY want to. As we got closer we could tell that it wasn't just a little stand of trees, it was a pretty good sized bunch. Well that wasn't going to work for a large garden since you can't garden under a tree canopy lol. But we rode on, keeping it in mind that this was just an idea, nothing was set in stone.


It was pretty hard to see into the trees at all since they looked like they were pretty tightly packed together. They had a symmetry about them like they looked like they were in rows. But that wasn't possible out here since this valley was all but abandoned and no one lived here. There wouldn't have been anyone around to plant trees. Ha! We could hear the little river flowing, it didn't sound anything like the main river, which sounded almost angry at us for coming near her. This one was just peacefully bubbling along on it's merry way without a care in the world who or what was in her. Hubby pulled up through the trees. At one point we almost had to back up and try another way in since the trees were so tightly packed. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea I told him. How would we ever have enough time to clear us a spot for a house, barn, chicken coop, etc...??? And clear the spot for a garden and pull stumps and get it going? Well he decided we would just follow along the little river and see where it ended up since on the map it just looked like it hit a dead end into the tree stand? We came over a little rise next to the river, almost at the center of the grove. Hubby stopped the wagon and let out a whistle. I jumped up on the wagon seat and yelled! Yipee! Honey, I think this is it!! He grabbed ahold of me and kissed me so hard it would have made the fish blush if they could. :wub:


We got out of the wagon and he tied it off on a small tree there. Then we walked up over that ridge, hand-in-hand. What we saw when we got to the top all laid out in front of us was our idea of a little slice of heaven on earth. So right then and there, with hands held, we said a prayer of thanksgiving to God for bringing us safely to this spot that we knew He meant for us. We thanked Him for all the friends we had made on the trail, for the good food, fellowship, leaning times and even the bad times for they made us all the stronger. And with that strength that He gave us we would now do our level best to bring Glory to His name. We asked a blessing on this land and it's people. For our future and theirs.


With that most important part of our new life done, we set about looking around. Here is what we found on that little slice of heaven... The small river ended right there in the middle of the grove. In a pool or pond depending on where you are from lol. But before the water came into the pool, it dropped down in about what I could best describe as a stepping stone type waterfall? It had four ledges all about 5 or 6 feet long with rock underneath, well more like it was made of rock and water flowing over them dropping down onto the next ledge and onto the next and then the next one before finally emptying into the pool. Sure was pretty, but I was thinking it would be a nice place to set up some kind of water system going into the little shack that was there. Yep, a shack lol. It was small, dirty and dusty. The door hinges looked like they were rusted about through and squeaked to beat the band. But it had a roof and four walls. We could worry about the rest later lol. From the looks of it, the thing may have been another trappers cabin? All it had in it was a fireplace made of stone. Oh, and one window looking out toward the front beside the front door. We had no idea if it was even livable, but if not, we could sure use the lumber to make another little house!


And there was a clearing here. Enough to plant a garden! The grass was coming up thick in that spot and it was going to take a giant effort on our part to keep the weeds down and keep them pulled so they didn't swallow the garden back up. Hubby reached down and pulled up a handful of grass. It had the dark soil too, not black like back north west of us near the big river, but still dark enough that it wasn't going to take much to get things growing good there. So now we found our spot we wanted. We walked around the pond to the other side just to look at it. The water was kind of off colored it looked like to me, but then I was used to the TN river and the Cumberland river, both of which are just about as muddy at times as the Mississippi river. This one was clearer by a long shot. It almost could be called a stream I would imagine by the time it emptied into the pond. I just wondered if it flowed all year long though. That could be a problem. Depend on it to be there and in the middle of summer, it dries up! We would end up digging a well after all. We looked around the property but didn't see one, so who ever was here before must have just gotten water out of the pond. I didn't feel that brave just yet. Maybe someday if this was where we were to end up (oh pretty please lol).


Hubby and I both felt so tired. Almost like someone took the weight of the world off of our shoulders. We went back to the wagon to have a sit down talk. We were hungry too so he lit the Coleman stove and I heated up a pint of tomato soup and made a few quick biscuits and put them into the small dutch oven we had just for that. I took some dried tomato slices put one on top of each bowl of soup and a dash of salt and pepper and a tad bit of chopped dried onion too. Simple but still tasted like it was fit for a king. :D We must have talked the entire time we were cooking, eating and cleaning up lol. Both of us just jabbering away at each other. Sure felt good too, but now it's time to turn in for the night. We will camp out here in the wagon tonight and then head back to the group at first light. It wont take near as long to get back as it did to get here now that we know the way. Hubby says he is going to put a sign up on the door of the cabin before we leave... "MR AND MRS Q LIVE HERE" lol. He sure is sweet. :wub: Nite all and God bless you and yours who ever you are in the future readin this...



Edited by quiltys41
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