Sunday, September 26, 2010

Travels Along The Rails


When Evan and Vern rode off looking for the ox, the rest of the wagons continued westward. The two miners from Pennsylvania were in the lead with their unusual wagon, a wagon and a half. They said the machine they had in the little cart was a steam pump and they were going to blast the gold out of the mountains with water. In to the morning mist they went. Ruts from previous travelers were very clear, one of the miners was walking in front of the team leading them and the other was walking beside the wagon. Behind came Louise and her family. The gold seekers brought up the rear. The gold seekers had just arrived in the new country from Ireland. They had heard the reports of people becoming rich in the gold mines found in the colonies.

With slow sure footing the wagon collection ventured along the trail of ruts. With the rain and fog there wasn’t much dust rolling up and it was cool. The miners kept a steady pace as the rest followed along. The children were staying close and the cows were tied to a wagon. The two boys watched the pig and they had a small switch to keep him going in the right direction. They had fixed a leash of sorts and looped it around him and had a small piece of rope on it. One would tug the other would switch and the pig reluctantly went along.

Crossing over the ridge and descending there were patches of blue sky. The fog was rolling and in between the patches were openings. On the flats they continued. The fog was thinner and the sun was becoming brighter. It was now in and out of the fog, short distance in fog to a clearing. The sun was winning the battle the fog was thinning. Climbing the next slope they broke into clear sky... Here they could see patches of fog in the low spots but they were rolling on.

Ever on ward the group traveled. The miners were now walking beside each other talking about the storm they had just been in. The boys had taken the rope off of the pig and were herding it along. The sun was out and the storm was behind them. Now the thoughts of Louise were with her brother Evan. They were not going to make a full day’s journey today. This would give Evan and Vern time to catch up to them.

Spending time looking for the ox in the morning had delayed their start and now it was about noon. They were going down another slope into a slight depression. On the other side was a low bluff that offered some shade and a break. They decided to stop there for lunch. The miners pulled their wagon at an angle and set water out for the animals. The brothers put their wagons in a row and did the same. The gold seekers just kind of stopped in the middle. Soon sandwiches were being made or jerky was being chewed on. The wagons made a shady area and some stools were set up beside them.

Conversation quickly turned to the lost ox. There was hope it would be found, they were too valuable to be lost. It represented about a month’s pay. Most of all was having the extra ox to help get up the hills. The further west they went the longer the hills were and shorter the flat spots were.

Soon the wagons were rolling again. The procession marched around the hill to plain area. I was a long vast flat area. Here they could roll along real good. They could see a ridge in the distance and a couple of trees. Trees usually indicated a spring. Here they would stop for the night and wait for Evan and Vern.


The flat plain made for good traveling after all of the early struggles. The ridge began upward and it was a gentle climb. Just below the crest was a curl that would provide them a wind break and afford a good view over the area they had traveled. They lined up the wagons for the night and began preparing the evening meal. The gold seekers and brothers were helpful in the evening. They would help get the small stove off of the wagon and go out gathering buffalo chips for the fire.

Some coal and firewood were carried under the wagons for the cooking. It would get chilly at night but not cold enough to huddle around the fire. Soon the stove was set up, some small pieces of kindling started up and soon there was buffalo chips being stacked by the stove. Cooking over the stove was so much easier than an open fire. The fire could be banked to one side making for a lower heat on the other side.

Louise, Elizabeth and Rebecca hurried themselves getting the meal put together. Everybody in the party contributed to the evening meal. Soon the aroma was floating over the hillside. The children had gone with their uncles looking to see if they could find water by the trees.

There wasn’t a pool but there was wet sand and with some digging they had made a small pool. After setting the water cleared up and they could dip pails in and fill them up. Soon they were trudging up the hill with buckets of water. The little ones had half full pails and they would hand them up to be emptied into the water barrels. Back to the water hole they went to refill the buckets.

As the children and Uncle Joel were walking back to the stream they heard a yell. Looking back to camp Joel could see Louise waving her arms and pointing. Turning back to the other direction Joel could see some shadows moving across the plain. Buckets were dropped and Joel and the kids ran back to the camp. One of the gold seekers had a spyglass out and was looking.

It’s them, he shouted and they have the ox. Everybody started talking at once, shouting and waving. Ted jumped on a horse and was heading out to meet them.

Evan and Vern were slowly moving along. It had been a rough time getting the ox out and the ox was plodding real slow. Soon Ted reached them and took the lead on the ox from Vern. Nothing was said as they rode on towards camp.


Evan and Vern took care of their horses, watered them and staked them out away from the wagons. Wearily they walked into the camp. Sitting down they had some chow. Working on getting the ox out they hadn’t thought about stopping to eat. The focus had been on getting it out. Now was time to rest and catch themselves.

Tomorrow was Sunday, a day of rest and preparation. There would be washing, baking and cleaning. Get things together for another week on the trail.

The sun was low in the sky as evening began its descent. The stove was stoked with some lumps of coal to keep it going all night. Saturday they would make a kettle of beans that cooked all night and was used for the coming week. The gold seekers and brothers would go out and hunt for some game so they had fresh meat. It was a routine that had been worked out weeks back. Together the group worked easily among themselves.

After finishing their meal the brothers cleaned up and went to the water hole that had been dug to clean up some more. The hole had been dug out and was a small pond now and they could easily get water. The sun was just above the horizon turning a crimson orange as they trudged back up the hill to the wagons. The sun would be out early tomorrow.

The aroma of brewing coffee rolled over the wagons. Evan eased to one side and could see steam perking over the coffee pot, the sun was not on the horizon. There was a gray pinkish sky so a person could make out shapes. Evan slipped his boots on grabbed his shirt as he slid out the wagon. Louise was still sound asleep as were the kids. Trying to be quiet and not wake them up Evan shuffled to the stove. The aroma of the beans and coffee was tantalizing.

Evan found a coffee cup and filled it. Strolling around the wagons he was trying to see who was up and had started the coffee. Rounding the wagons Evan seen his brother Joel sitting on the grass looking out over the creek and below was a small herd of deer that had his attention. The deer were drinking out of the water pond they had dug.

Beside Joel laid his rifle. Evan kneeled down and sat beside him. Pretty long shot, Evan said. Yep, replied Joel, I’m hoping they will wander this direction some and get away from the creek. Fresh venison would be nice. Evan and Joel sat there, sipping on their coffee watching the deer.

Two of the deer wandered off to their left by the trees. Up the hill was a green patch of grass. A few more deer headed up the hill towards the green patch. Soon all were up in the area. Joel slowly turned, picked up his rifle. Put it to his shoulder.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

This is my future home site, on the side of the hill.

Well this is an attempt with the new editor. Here goes, a full gainer with back spin and twist. Ended up in the rocks, ker splat...... squoosh.

A month of Sunday's to load a picture. Started War and Peace, made it to vol II. Ho hum.... so much for better.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Time Inside Self

Fall, a time of renewal, shed the old and get ready for the new. The prairie goes to sleep like other parts of nature does for the winter. We have been so dry here lately that the grass went dormant last month. The only green is along the cricks. Like a green ribbon the cottonwoods wave above the blueish, gray brown grass. As the grasses go dormant they begin to shed their seeds to get ready for moisture of spring. It also provides food for the critters that hang out in the wintertime, seeds for the birds n gophers and grass for the browsers. Nature has developed a nice system to sustain life on a land that most see as vacant.
Look out across the picture and see a land that supports hundreds of bird species, a large variety of mammals and thousands of insects. There are ranch homes in the trees, a small town next to the trees on the left and in the far corner is another small town, about 15 miles away. There is a white building in the upper left hand corner and it sets almost a thousand feet higher then where I am standing.
Here one can feel a freedom that is missed in the hustle of the big city. Open land to the eyes end. A gaze to the horizon without interruption. the big city has freedom but as I look out over the skyline I see house after house surrounding large buildings and structures.
With the birds my mind can soar, beside the antelope I can roam or I can just sit and watch nature's creation.

Walking in the sand creek the dogs have a good time sniffing things out as they flit all over the place. This day the sun was out and they were a little warm. Tongues hanging out and the Scooter looks like he is trying to get some shade from the blade of grass. It is so nice to get out like this and let them be. They don't run off and if a rabbit jumps up they will let it go if I holler at them. If a deer jumps up they stand there and look at it. So down the crick we go strolling.

There comes a time to pack up the dogs and head out the front door. Sunday was that day. There were a few things east of town I wanted to check on, so off into the wilderness.
One of the things I like to do is take pictures of trees, especially this time of year through winter. The patterns of the branches on the sky created an ethereal appearance at times. Out where I was going the road crosses the sand creek and i can walk up stream a couple hundred yards. Each time I do there something just a bit different. Nature's canvas is ever changing and always great. My pictures do not always capture that.

Hope your week is progressing and life is treating you well.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Travels Along the Rails

Chap 7

Evan was yelling at Vern across the mud hole to stop. The Ox was getting louder and the struggling seemed to make things worse for the ox. Finally Vern heard Evan, with a wave of the arm, Evan motioned to him to stop and come back around on this side. Evan turned and walked to the other horse. Ho loosed the rope and looped it around the saddle horn.
Very deliberately Evan began walking into the mud hole. Evan told Vern to stand by and hold the other horse. Each step took Evan into the ooze. Mud sloping off the boots, sucking sounds and sloshing with each step, soon the ooze was creeping over the boots and Evan was at the water’s edge. With care he was picking his way through the murky water. The ox stood there staring at Evan, a quizzical look. With a soft tone Evan began talking to the beast.
Ker-splash and Evan disappeared in the slop. He came up out of the water sputtering and splashing all over. His hat was floating next to him. Vern was on the edge just rolling and hollering, what happened? As Evan came up out of the water he was almost face to face with the ox. Eye to eye they looked at each other. Evan tried to step back and could only get a half step, there was a small ledge there and he had slipped on it and fell in the hole.
Now he understood why the ox would not come up out of the hole. The ledge was too slippery and it couldn’t get any traction. All the time Vern was a hootin’ and a hollerin’. Evan hollered out at Vern to shut up and listen. Vern shut up but man was there a grin, ear to ear. The ox has to be pulled out a different way Evan noted. Flipping his hat on, water dripping down, Evan slopped around another direction and the mud hole became shallower as he pushed the other direction.
Vern take the horses around to the other side, if we can get him turned to go up this direction he should be able to crawl out. Vern moved the horses around the other side while Evan looped the other rope over the horns. Both horses were side by side on tied onto the ox. Evan gave a command for Vern to give the horses a little tug on the ox. Evan splashed some water on the side of the ox’s head to get him to turn. With a bellow, it shook its head and snorted and began to turn the other way. Water was splashing and Evan was hollering and splashing the ox. With jumps and twists the ox was turning.
Evan hollered out to keep the slack tight in the ropes. The steps were slow and tough but the ox was moving at last. Soon the belly was out of the water and with jumps it was getting closer to the edge. With a shout, Evan said we’re doing it, keep a pulling. Evan was behind the ox shouting encouragement. It was out of the water and in a few steps on dry land. Vern stopped and Evan came up beside him. Need a rest?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fun Things

Driving across a pasture the rare occurrence presents it self. There it was, setting in front of me, bobbing up and down and warily observing the strange critter in its territory.

These two little guys flew up out of their burrow and landed a short distance away. I slowly got the camera out and took a couple of pictures, then just sat there and watched them a few minutes.

As I was driving off another one flew up behind me and landed a short distance behind. It appears I disrupted a family get together.

Burrowing owls are few and far between. Not real big, maybe 12 inches in full height. Their legs are a tad longer then their more famous cousins, the Great Horned Owl or Barn Owl. The prairie dogs are no longer around. It appears they moved on or died off. Prairie dogs are notorious for catching the plague and or carrying the fleas.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Chap 6 Travels Along The Rails

Chap 6


Evan and Vern moved off the other direction from the wagons. In the fog it did not take long before the wagons faded into the misty fog. The brothers were going to ride along the creek a short distance and then criss cross the grass land looking for the lost ox. As they rode along the fog would be thicker then thin out. It was difficult to stay in sight of each other but they could whistle or shout to keep track of the other.

When they reached the crick Vern was going to ride up the bank and Evan would follow the edge. The rain had created small pools and mud bogs. They figured the ox had wandered into crick looking for a drink and was probably lying nearby chewing its cud, they hoped.

The plan was to ride about five miles back down stream. The going was slow because of the fog. Last thing wanted to do was have one of the horses step into a pool of quicksand. Whistling and hollering they made their way. As the morning wore on there were spots of bright sunshine and they could move a little faster through these spots. As they were riding along hollering and a patch of dense fog, Vern stopped and hollered at Evan and asked him if he heard anything. Stopping and being quiet, Evan said he heard a faint bellow a distance ahead.

Letting out a screech Vern galloped ahead, he got an answer of a bawl. As fast as Vern had galloped off he came to a stop. There to the right in the crick was a big old mud bog and there stuck in the mud was their ox. Evan rode up just as the ox cried out. Evan shook his head. This was a mess the ox was up to his belly in gooey mud. The ox bellered at them. The brothers got off their horses and walked towards the ox. Closer as they strode they could feel the mud grabbing the boots.

Stopping they pondered what to do. Evan said he will get a rope and see if he can get it over his horns and pull him out. The ox stood there looking at them. Evan walked back to the horses and took a rope off and headed back to the mud hole. He walked into the mud as far as he dared to toss the lasso. The first toss landed in the mud a little short. Couple steps closer Evan tried again, this time it fell off the animals head and slid into the mud. It took a couple of tosses but finally the loop went around the horns.

Struggling in the mud, Evan was able to back out and handed the rope to Vern. He walked up and led his horse back down to his brother. Took the rope and tied it around the saddle horn. Vern walked around the mud to be behind the ox. Evan gave the horse a pat to start pulling, the ox howled and struggled. Vern was behind the ox throwing mud at him and hollering. The ox was jumping and lunging, the horse was straining while Evan was beside his ear talking.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A couple of notes n thoughts.... clunk.

This going to be one of those experiments to see where I end up at. So here I am at the beginning.
Page One......
"It was a cold, dark and stormy night." This was the entry line for Snoopy's great all- american book.

Diligently Snoopy would sit atop his house pounding away at the keys, writing his book until writer's block would strike in mid sentence. Out of the carriage the page would be ripped and tossed to the four winds.

Day after day the famous hound would set on his, abode typewriter clicking away.

So many writers are like Snoopy, inspired, dedicated and sit at their writing desk placing words on to paper, or screens, That deadly moment strikes and blanks roll across the table to tumble onto the floor.

A book was published some years ago giving Snoopy some very sage advice. A group of published writers was approached to write advice stories for the frustrated writing beagle. There were about 50 essays from these writers that were put into the book. Each writer had a unique way of writing and each thought their style was the way for Snoopy to write.

They were Hollywood script writers, national magazine columnists, book authors and editors. Each person had their own way of presenting their words. One would do no rewriting at all another would revise so much a forest of trees would disappear in the rewrite. Each accomplished their goal though, their writing were published on a national level.

So Snoopy had his own advice book that others were making a few bucks from. I would guess Snoopy may still be talking with Lucy about the next book.

What i found interesting was all of the styles that were presented. Then I stopped and considered if there was only one editor for all these writers, what would happen to the unique writing style. Would writers become homogenized, all stories pretty generic and after a while bland.

The writer has a certain way of presenting their story and sometimes it does not appeal to the masses and an editor gets a hold of it and wants to appeal to the masses. what kind of changes roll out the editors blue pencil and rewrites. Verse and poetry is probably the touchiest for that is the writers soul coming out, most of the time but if it doesn't read well.... into the rejection envelope. Like poetry, prose has a beat, cadence that it takes on and the writer develops it as the style is refined. this cadence of the writer is what makes him/her unique.

So I guess my question to self...... is.... what drum am I marching to?

As Snoopy would say, "It was a cold, dark and stormy night."

Now I need to see if I can find that book.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Chap 5 Travels by the Rails

Louise had been up getting the kids together and cooking breakfast. The small cast iron stove they had been carrying was a godsend for Louise. It could be set down on the ground and it just high enough she didn’t have to bend over it like a campfire. On the back set the dutch oven baking biscuits, a skillet of bacon going and another griddle for hotcakes. It saved so much time.
After the stock and other animals were secured the aroma was throughout camp and after gathering up the stock there were some hungry men. They quickly washed up and found their plates. There was a stack of hotcakes waiting for them, bacon and coffee and Louise was frying some eggs.
Grub boxes or cargo boxes made good seats and soon the camp was quiet as the breakfast was disappearing into some ravenous mouths. There was only the clatter of utensils banging on plates and the slurp of coffee to break the silence. A small bucket of warm water was setting near the stove to use for dishwashing. Coffee cups were refilled and there was discussion of how to proceed.
The fog had settled in pretty thick, the rail town was no longer visible to the west and they could only see the outline of the trees lining the sand creek. It was decided that Evan and one of his brothers would saddle up their horses and look for the missing ox while the rest would continue westward. The ruts of the trail were very clear and one of the prospectors would ride ahead on point to make sure the trail was okay and scout the direction.
The process of breaking camp started and the wagons were hitched up and the gear was secured. It would be great weather fro travel. The sun was blocked by the fog and it was cool. If it hadn’t been for the wandering ox they would be able to make good time. The wagons headed out and Evan and his brother Vern rode off looking for the missing ox.
It was nice traveling today as they walked by the wagons, no dust was being kicked up and the sun was not beating on them. The children were in a playful mood and scampered around the wagons running off the pick a flower growing by the trail. Ruts were very clear and as they rolled up the rise the ruts had been washed deeper by the rain. As they traveled up the hill the sun became brighter and soon they were out of the fog and under clear blue skies. Cresting the rise they could look across the distance and see other hills poking above the fog. It was a thin layer of fog and once out in the sun the intense heat of the day could be felt.
It was a short distance across the ridge and they would drop back into the valley and the cool shade of the fog. The descent began and they had to sit on the wagons to use the brakes to help hold them from running over the oxen. Down the hill they rolled curling to the left.