WOW, gulfcoasttruth! What a wonderful experience and how kind the people along the way were.
One of the things I want folks to think about, is that when these very heavy wagons are moving, no one steps down from them or tries to get up on them, because they can fall and get run over. This will lead to broken bones and internal injuries, and yes, you get a runaway wagon, and its going to be a mess, like what happened to that one wagon.
You had some major assistance getting over certain difficult places along that trail but usually, they rigged ropes and tackle, pulley systems and used weight and strength to get over the really tough inclines on these western trails all over the West.
When it rained, you had bad mud and by hand , the wagons had to be pushed, dug out and pulled by maybe a double team of mules or oxen as well, with every able bodied grown person helping out and getting massively muddy and dirty as well.
One of the things in the military is that we are taught to take care of our feet. If your shoes get wet , using those burning tabs inside the boot actually helps if its so humid they wont dry, fresh spare socks, which you wash out at night and hang to dry overnite. If you have enough water between places to do any washing.
We also have the benefit of the hygienic wipes now and that cuts actual water use down. In the military, you tend your feet, some of us may want to be checking them at each break, doctoring any soft or sore or blister areas properly and watching others. We mostly have soft feet because they are protected so much now by smooth surfaces and shoes that are very durable. Starting out walking all day long is rugged at first. But you do get used to it. I really enjoy the movement of walking and its glorious outside now so I enjoy my walk even more and I see how different it is outside. But I am still not able to walk all day, admittedly although I would like to get back to at least half that as a matter of course and am thinking of getting a foldable manual treadmill so I can get into walking when its too cold outside to keep building up my legs and feet again this winter. I consider exercise that is consistent extremely important right now because I know I am not capable of that at this point and there may well come a time when I have to do some extremely long travel if things keep going badly for us and get alot worse to get to where my son lives, several states away, in any kind of weather and conditions as it would be.
My walk last weekend and the one before that of about 3-4 miles after being totally a computer chair potato for so long sure tells me how tender my feet are. Add fibro for effect, too. It takes me about two solid days right now to get over that pain, but on the journey, you would not have that and would have to keep walking.
The real reasons most folks walked was that it took extra weight off the livestock hitched to the wagons to pull them over the terrain. As well as the discomfort of being knocked around going over rough territory on a daily basis. We are lucky that there are so many roads now. You might be able to take a few rides to give your feet a break as you adjust but it puts alot of strain on the mules or oxen.
It would be really difficult to pack canned goods ( home canned in jars). The weight alone is difficult for the mules or oxen. Horses would only be good for individuals who would be scouting ahead, safety and hunting further off as needed. Or for disabled folks. Most folks don't even have horses anymore. Pulling the Conestoga is too much for horses on a long term basis and they will wither away, so mules and oxen are better and eat less particular feed. Back to jars, perhaps foam rubber from pillows or if you have some stored could be cut out to house jars in crates or boxes that would stand up to the lengthy travel. Something like bubble wrap would eventually lose its ability cause the bumps and such would cause it to pop too much, or extra linens or straw in the crates for them... but it limits the amount of room you have to store everything unless you have a couple extra wagons like Stephanie would have with so many in her family old enough to drive the wagons. Some in her party will be having to deal with the livestock on the ground and encouraging and controlling the teams on the ground. Children learned early how to drive wagons too, for the most part as it was an integral part of their lives from the start back in the pioneer days and on the farm.
Me, I would have one wagon... and honestly wouldn't want one of the really long ones and I am thinking my dry supplies that I have been gathering that are condensed so well will be my best choice and a minimal amount of canned foods. I know I am still lacking in having a bunch of seed too and thats a big spot to fill still for me.
For me, it would be difficult to choose which books to take, but I have several technical books and college algebra books that tell in great detail how to do the problems so it would be useful for teaching others algebra, which is useful in many things like constructing things on a practical basis. Just don't ask me to teach it, I have a hard time fathoming that kind of stuff and figure out what materials I may need by a simpler process I can understand. I have certain books on things that I am interested in that are helpful to others as well , although they are not something some folks even understand, but their purpose is good and useful as it deals with Eastern methods of healing and I would take those too, along with a good selection of other instructional books. I wish I had a collection of the emergency health care books like surgery in case of emergency and such and a much bigger supply of herbs and supplements to aid myself and others with, and a much bigger amount of antibiotics to treat different illnesses and infections.
I wish I had some good anatomy and physiology books and such too... but I know I need to stock more food and utter basics right now. Inflation is just around the corner and I have a limited budget each month now.
I would be doing alot of snaring of small game along the way and probably hurrying through chores and trying to fish any water ways we came across to supplement and if it was warm seasons, foraging during the day if I could share the driving of my wagon with someone else on the journey. I have paper and pens and pencils and some art supplies too and those would be brought along for journaling and education purposes, and drawing out plans for building projects once we get to the place we settle in.
I would take sewing supplies and make extra towels and a bunch of hot pads for the camp cooking because cast iron and campfires are hot to work with. Sewing and materials and buttons and notions to make more clothing by hand. The electric sewing machine would be carefully packed into a wooden crate and brought in hopes that we would have electricity again, one day. My knitting supplies and knitting books would be taken as well, they are easy to learn from and give great examples of how to work with it all to make it very nice and neat too. One could work on that skill sometimes on the journey as well. Also teach it to others. My knitting looms would go as they are simple to use and make things quickly.
I would bring quite a few novels and such books too because books are big entertainment and help literacy stay alive when you have nothing electronic and the chores are done and they stimulate the mind and heart as well, certainly all my bibles and any thing Christian oriented in the way of literature. Still there would be alot of decisions have to be made about what are favorites or the best of the best when it comes to my bookshelves.
I would carefully pack and waterproof my family photos and albums and I would pack away securely my flashdrives and discs holding pics and documents. I need to get a printer and make up notebooks of hardcopies of so many things from MrsS, still, for instruction and recipe books. There is such a variety of knowledge. I would have to make more bolts for the crossbow and be very careful with what arrows I have for the compound bow and try and make more arrows. I totally lack firearms but have more hand to hand type weapons and those would all be going and I need to make sheaths for some of them, like the machete and would get used to carrying that. I have my moms jewelry for bargaining purposes once we settle, or for supplies if possible on the way.
There is alot I am still lacking, but there are also many things I would be able to take that are here already.
I have enough cooking pans and such and utensils and table ware but I have no metal plates and wish I did. I would probably carve a plank for a durable plate and bowl. Like the old trencher set up , the bowl is in the middle and is deeper than the plate surface. I also do have metal cups at least and messkits that do provide somewhat durable eating ware and extra small pots and pans at least and those certainly would go. I have wire for snares and can remember how to set simple traps and snares and usually review them on youtube occasionally or with the help of someone who does remember more clearly if I have a blank brain about a certain part of snare building at the moment. I have a single burner coleman stove and some propane cannisters ( small) and those certainly would be good for inclement weather or no wood available for a campfire to cook on.
I would bring all the plastic and tarps I have and rope and cord ( parachute cord, string , twine).
I have a few games like checkers and cards and there would be a small game bag going in the wagon.
I would bring enough well padded wine making supplies as you can use bread yeast for it if you must and I have that. Wine can be used in cleaning wounds and surgery if you have nothing else to use.
All my tools and nails and screws would be packed up to go in a bin. Its not much but its better than nothing. I dont have gardening tools and know I am lacking in that and would have to borrow them to work a new garden as my back couldnt take just using the Army shovels as little as those are, when we settle somewhere, well, if I had to, I would use them. ( I live in a place I cant garden at, although I know I could swipe them from MHA, lol... but thats a twelve mile trip......but I do know where they are and there are full propane tanks for the gas grill there too.... can we swipe stuff???, LOL.... )
I have soy wax in a big block and I have tuna cans and wicking and would be making up all of them as 3 wick emergency candles. I have some other candles too that would be used and candle holders that are small enough to pack carefully and use and a couple oil lamps and several quarts of lamp oil that would all go.
The linens and the blankets and sleeping bags and all the BOB and day packs I have would be utilized for BOB and for kits, like hunting and snaring gear and the first aid day pack, all stored and ready to grab out of the back of the wagon or by the seat in front to grab right away. I have one fire steel and wished I had a spare and a couple bic lighters right at the moment and matches, they all would go. I would keep the blankets in plastic bags to guard against dirt and the linens, one sheet would become a sleeping bag liner or bedroll liner as it will help keep the blankets from getting dirty and sweaty and smelly and can be washed in a stream or boiled in a pot over a fire. Bungee cords would be great! I have some and wish I had more. They would certainly be used for anything they can help with.
Ive got a bigger french press now, that came in my amazon order and it supplies enough coffee for me for a morning breakfast fire. Im thinking the coffee grounds would be good for Wormguys worm bin along the way! After they are used up of course.
Five gallon buckets would be great but you will want some padding under and around them because wagon hauling is a bumpy experience and you don't want the cracking to pieces and ruining the food supply, so my extra big zebra stripe blanket, fleecey stuff would be used for that and washed when I got to where I settle. A small innovation but seriously needed to secure the buckets. If i had rubber matting I would use that. Like the playground, garage flooring stuff, if any of you have that, would be terrific to line the bottom and sides of the wagon with. Or storing sacks of grain underneath might work if you have your small livestock and mule feed with you would help alot in that part of packing it. Cut grass would work in a pinch too.
( I just am trying to brainstorm some innovations with what there could be to work with. I've got plenty of grass hay fields around me to go cut some grass from or swipe some of a round bale for that purpose, feed for the mules ya know? Well I still have enough money to buy a bale too, so that would at least be more honest. ) LOL.
If you had some mountain bikes those could be tied to the side of the wagon and used for scouting and hunting trips that were some distance away from the wagon train too. For herding the loose livestock too.. Also alleviate sore feet as people get used to walking or its just easier for them. I do not have one and would be responsible mostly for getting my wagon forward most of the time anyway, so this is just a thought for others.
Ok, I better toss this out there , its plenty long anyhow! Good luck ! be creative !!!!
Edited by arby, 10 October 2009 - 11:51 AM.