First, I want to thank those who have logged on to gofundme.com and donated to this trip. You have my utmost gratitude, and I will not forget your belief in my dream. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. It's amazing what crosses your mind while driving across this country on the secondary roads. You see some absolutely beautiful sights. More so than on the interstates where you see mostly trees, and not much else.
Secondary roads go through small town USA. You see stately old brick buildings, several stories tall. Where business was conducted on the ground floor, and the family lived on the upper floors. Today, some of these old brick edifices are being renovated into plush living quarters, with the original hardwood floors, wide marble window sills, with old fashioned wood trim on every door and window.
I see abandoned houses, stores, and barns falling in on themselves. The saddest to see, for me, are the many farms, empty of the life they sustained for generations. They tell a story of families dying out as sons failed to return from foreign battles, and where the daughters married and moved away to begin their own lives. With no one left to take up the struggle of sustaining life, the farms slowly declined, and the houses, and barns fell into ruin. This is a sad part of our history.
You see cafes, with pick up trucks, older cars, and in some places, a tractor or two, parked outside, while their owners are inside, sharing coffee, and swapping stories. The cashiers at gas stations are friendly, and curious as to what brings you through their town. Not sure if they see that many strangers, due to the interstates bypassing the town, and most people in a hurry to get to where they are going.
So far, this trip is fulfilling one of it's purposes. I am slowing down. Pulling the trailer, the only time I hit speed limit is when going through the many small towns, where their 45, 35, and even 25 mph, slow down all travelers.
Speed limits on most of these smaller roads is 65 mph. I am driving with my tach more than the odometer. By keeping the tach between 2000 and 2200, I am able to average 24 mpg. This is surprising as I was expecting less than 20 mpg. Going uphill slows me down considerably, and I am really grateful to see the wide spaces where I can pull over and give the drivers behind me a chance to maintain their speed instead of slowing down for me.
Driving slow, I am seeing a lot I would miss by going 65-80 mph. I see magnificent scenery. Every couple of minutes, I am amazed at the beauty of what I am seeing. This is such a lovely country.
I was driving along side of the Oregon trail in Southwest Idaho. The wagon tracks are so much more narrow than I thought they would be. My Jeep is wider than these wagons were.
Seeing the desolate country side, I am filled with amazement at the people who dared take this trip into the unknown. The ground is a long way from smooth. It is rocky, at best, and like an oversized washboard in most places. The gullies could easily swallow a wagon, and hide an amazing number of enemies.
I can see why 10-12 miles a day would have been a good day for the wagon trains. Up one side of a hill, and down the other side, pulled by slow moving oxen, they moved at a slow crawl. The terrain would have shaken the nails out of the boards of a wagon, and I can understand why broken azles, and wagon tongues were an everyday issue.
I am in awe of these intrepid adventurers, who left the lush valleys of Eastern US, for the dry, dusty trails through a terrain which would have seemed alien to them. (Back in the time of the westward expansion, there were many more trees, and a lot fewer high rises on the eastern country side.) They left the familiar, to follow a dream of a better life for themselves, and their children, in an unknown world, filled with uncertainty, danger, and in a lot of cases, hunger and thirst. I am overwhelmed with admiration for their perseverance.