I posted this on my Art Studio website because our travels inspired my latest painting.
Traveling with our motorhome across the American west bestows an opportunity to reflect on the comforts we enjoy today. Aided by navigation systems, weather forecasts, a motorized vehicle with cruise control, and outdoor cameras, to name a few modern conveniences, we set out into the sunset.
In the late 18th century and most of the 19th century, wagon trains were the only transportation for people and goods. These trains comprised up to 100 Conestoga wagons, sometimes called prairie schooners.
There is so much to share about these trains and the adventures of those who followed their dreams of a better life. Many immigrants from many countries were pursuing the American dream, and the west provided the scenic, albeit dangerous, backdrop to many pioneer stories and legends.
Journeys lasted more than a year, and the weather, Indian territories, and treacherous trails were only minor inconveniences compared to life-threatening sickness, childbirth, quarrels, romance, rivalries, and so much more!
When planning our motorhome trips, I am the one mapping our itinerary and scheduled stops. For the most part, we don’t travel for more than 300 miles per day. Wagon trains traveled an average of 10 miles a day on good days!
While my husband drives, I stare at the mountains and prairies and say a prayer for the souls of those who didn’t make it – who didn’t fulfill their dreams and died. There could be undiscovered graves out there, for the blood stains have long been gone.
A few times, the openness of the country took my breath away. The winding roads are high, sometimes above the clouds. I think of the horses. I think of the women.
Upon returning home from these trips, I go to my studio filled with the spirit of pioneers full of hope and adventure. I want to paint it all!
Women set up kitchens almost every night. Cooked for and served the entire group of travelers. Cleaned it all afterward and if traveling the next day, stored it all back. The next morning, they readied to feed the group again and pack for the day’s journey. I think of young mothers and babies. I think of grandparents.
When I think of myself as brave, I pat myself on the back and say; silly woman, you haven’t seen anything yet!
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