Friday, October 10, 2008

Sunday Scribblings - If I had to live at a different time in history - 10/12/08

This week's Sunday Scribblings prompt is "If I had to live at a different time in history":

When I lived in Wyoming, my job often required that I drive across its lonely expanse in winter, which lasted September through May in a mild year. I had lots of time to reflect, as there were miles and miles where the only broadcasts on the radio were the cattle report or cowboy poetry readings. It always amazed me looking across the frozen, high plains, with its predominant forty mile an hour wind creating horizontal snowfall, how the pioneers survived. I had all the modern conveniences and I was still miserable during the dark months.





Interstate 80, which is one of the main arteries of the United States, linking San Francisco, Chicago, and New York, travels across southern Wyoming. This 400 mile stretch is obviously the weak link in the entire 3,000 mile journey. Interstate 80 rises to an elevation of nearly 9,000 feet near Laramie, but the mean is around 5,000 feet. I say this because there are times each winter that huge portions of it are impassable due to whiteout conditions. Gates are closed and all traffic stops. Motorists have the option of returning to the nearest town (of which there are few) or remaining in their vehicle. I have seen miles of tractor trailers parked waiting for the interstate to reopen. Every spring thaw they find motorists that elected to remain in their vehicles. And I80 is a major superhighway; you don’t even want to know about county and secondary road conditions.











Wyoming weather is extreme and unpredictable. With that in mind, consider piloting a Conestoga wagon across the prairie not knowing when a beautiful autumn day was going to turn to a deadly blizzard. I would have been a horrible member of a wagon train. I think I would prefer freezing to death to climbing into a fresh buffalo carcass to keep warm. They were an amazingly hearty people, surviving disease, weather, bandits, and Indians that did not wish to be colonized. I am not a pioneer. In spite of nearly 30 days in the Boy Scouts, I have absolutely no survival skills. I cannot start a fire without an excellerant. I could not track an animal on the beach. Every knot I have ever tied came loose on its own. I am allergic to everything that grows or blows. If I go more than eight hours without eating I become a one-man Donner Party.


My microwave stopped working the other day and it created a crisis that made me temporarily forget about my disappearing 401K. A lost remote control in my home is cause for sending out a search party. Lost car keys require the formation of a posse. As a frontiersman, I would have been considered a tenderfoot. I am all right with that.







11 comments:

linda may said...

I enjoyed your post and pictures. Thanks for sharing and showing me something of your country.

GreenishLady said...

So... you'd like to visit that time in history? Maybe you want to know whether, if you were really in that situation, you'd have survived pretty well? I visited an Oregon museum which documented the hardships of those journeys. Amazing the fortitude of the early settlers.

myrtle beached whale said...

Greenish Lady:

The whole point of my blog was that I would never survive. I have absolutely no desire to test my mettle. I have none.

Redheels said...

Just looking at your pics makes me COLD! :)

I know without a doubt I couldn't have survived in a wagon train crossing the prairie.

Thanks for posting.

forgetfulone said...

Gorgeous photos!

Robin said...

Yikes! I can see why you moved to Myrtle Beach. I wouldn't last a week in that weather.

keithsramblings said...

What a terrific read - I'm still shivering! And the pics are just great. Methinks I'll give Wyoming a wide birth - at least in Winter.

tumblewords said...

I think that'd be one of the toughest and hardest of times. Love the photos...Nice post.

anthonynorth said...

That was a fascinating post. A bleak place. And I enjoyed the humour, too. Especially the wind sock pic.

Anonymous said...

Wyoming, the not the end of the world, but you certainly can see it from there!! As a resident of Wyoming the desolation can be daunting at times, but the beauty can be as well. However I concur that the settlers must have been of an ilk no longer on this earth, except for perhaps a few cubans that survive after being crammed in a small boat hull trying to get to coast of Florida. I think it is a fair assessment that those of us here now would never have given the Native Americans anything to complain about.

Nita Jo said...

Wonderful! I loved reading your thoughts and seeing all the pictures. My grandfather spent most of his years in Wyoming. I remember road trips across long, flat gravel roads... and the wind!

I'm thankful to have been traveling in an air conditioned vehicle with a cooler of goodies!