Thursday, April 10, 2014

Throwback Thursday

This picture was taken in 2009 in Guernsey, Wyoming. The handsome dude in the center is my husband, Peter. On the right is my son James, and on the left is my daughter, Heather. They are standing in ruts made by covered wagons traveling on the Oregon Trail. Can you imagine? I was stunned when we climbed up the trail and saw how deep and wide these ruts were. Thousands of wagons. Thousands of oxen and horse hooves. Thousands of boots.

When I see historical sites like these, I can't help but try to imagine what it must've been like, all my earthly goods packed into a wooden box on wheels, traveling hundreds of miles from everything familiar, headed toward a great unknown. The hardships, the loneliness, the fear and uncertainty.

Have you visited the Guernsey Wagon Ruts? Have you visited an historical site/museum that had you trying to imagine what it might've been like to live in another time?

You can learn more about the Oregon Trail Ruts at

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  1. I think if I wrote historical, it would definitely be the Oregon Trail. I have certainly spend hundreds of hours of research breaking wagon axles and contracting diphtheria ;)

    1. :) Perhaps a wagon train story is in your future? :D :D :D

  2. I've often tried to imagine how hard it was, especially during a "certain time of month" for the females but then I remembered, they knew nothing else. To them whatever they had was miles better than the previous generation. A couple of Colleen Coble's books have painted a more realistic picture for me of that time period than any other I've ever read.

    1. I would have made a terrible pioneer. I love to read about it, I love to write about it, but I am not a pioneering spirit. I try to imagine what it must've been like to be an Israelite wandering in the wilderness, or a Pilgrim on the Mayflower, or a trailblazer on the way to Oregon...and I know I'd have been the one they'd have left in the desert, pushed overboard, or let wash away at a river crossing, I'd have been such a pain. :D

  3. I think I'd rather imagine myself living in an old mansion somewhere - like Glensheen in Duluth. I don't think I'd have made a good pioneer. How do you throw a good tea party out in the middle of nowhere?! I guess it's a matter of perspective, though. If that's all you knew, then you'd deal with it.

    1. I often think I could live the upper-crust life of a Gilded Age matron....but then again, the rules of society would've driven me crazy, and I probably would've dropped so many clangers and made so many faux pas, I would've been drummed out of the parlors and salons. :D

  4. I would have been a rule-breaker during the Gilded Age, to be sure! I would not have fit in. I think the two of us would have been non-conformists together! Can you imagine trying to achieve a 16 or 18 inch waist?! HAHA!! I just read "She Walks in Beauty" by Siri Mitchell which was all about the Gilded Age in NYC. Oh, my goodness, what those poor young women had to go through. Stick me in Glensheen to make up my own rules and I'd be a happy camper!

    1. Glensheen was one of the best mansion tours I've ever been on. I want to transport that mansion to Newport in the story I'm working on. :)

  5. In a way, I live in a time capsule - I'm rebuilding an airplane from WW2 using parts from wrecks, and a LOT of new-build stuff.

    Dealing with old parts, one can see the damage that combat caused (which I repair whenever possible, maintaining provenance), and also small human touches - penciled notes in areas that have been protected from weather, relating to assembly...or just doodles by a bored worker.

    Making new parts requires the recreation of the technology used to make them seventy years ago - some of which has been nearly forgotten.

    I've become so immersed in this technology and this time that sometimes I feel a definite sense of dislocation, as if I'm a stranger in my own time. And yet - I'm not a part of the past, either.

    It's not unpleasant, now that I've gotten used to it. I would not have wanted to live then, but the experience has afforded a perspective on modernity that makes it easier to hold to the more basic and enduring values that carried the free world through a truly horrendous war.

    By the way - what on earth is a camisole? (I do know what a coffee cup is. I used to drink eighteen cups of the stuff every day, and had the persona of a chihuahua on speed.)

    1. Andrew, I've become so engrossed in writing a particular era, that when I surface for air, I'm shocked at modern technology like digital clocks and cell phones. :)

      Your warbird rebuild sounds like a true labor of love. My dad would love it.

      A camisole is woman's undergarment worn primarily in the pre-1910's. It was one of Victoria's Secrets. :D

    2. So that's what a camisole is!

      I'm reminded of Susan Howatch's "Glamorous Powers" (the second book in the Starbridge series) in which she describes the discomfort of the undergarments monks had to wear...I wonder if a camisole was that bad? Makes me glad for modern clothing, at any rate.

      Yes, the project's a labor of love, in many ways. For awhile we had a partial cockpit section (pulled from a Russian swamp) in the kitchen. My wife commented that she had the most unique kitchen island on the block.

      And she would have agreed to house the engine - a 1400hp V-12, about six feet long and weighing close to 2000 lbs - in the living room. We did find alternate quarters for it, much to her relief.

      But she's still going to take the lead on its teardown, and organize the overhaul. (OK, I do the dishes, the laundry, and most of the cooking...something of a quid pro quo.)


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