In a few hours, Kit and I will start our migration to the Pacific Northwest roughly along the Oregon Trail followed by 1840s pioneers. In four-to-six months, they traveled 2,170 miles across deserts, raging rivers, and mountain ranges to begin a new life. The dangerous route averages ten graves of young and hardy people per mile.
Most pioneers used four-by-ten foot wooden wagons, called prairie schooners, pulled by teams of plodding oxen. I’ve imagined couples having strong disagreements about what to carry in their tiny wagon space.
Wife: “You aim to bring that stinky animal skin?”
Husband: “I killed that bar when I was only four-teen. An’ it’s lighter than them dishes of yourn.”
Wife: “Paul Revere hisself made my grandmother’s pewter plates. I ain’t levin’ ‘em.”
Likely both the bearskin and the plates had been discarded to lighten their load before our pioneers reached their destination. Kit and I will move west in a Toyota Corolla packed to live out of for months. We’ve had some spirited discussions ourselves about what to cram in. Probably we’ll find some items we can live without before we find a new home or more likely shed some emotional baggage.
On my 22nd birthday, I began a solo journey to California for my first engineering job. This time I’ll have my enthusiastic wife with me. Nevertheless I feel twenty-two again. That feeling makes all the trouble seem worth the effort.