Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

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Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by Ranger52899 on Fri Dec 21, 2018 12:55 pm

3b 





            Christmas lights decorated the paths of the fort. Heavy black cannons stood on brick gun placements, and Flynn walked slowly with his hand through Dale’s arm to guide him. Jorg and Stefan were helping out with one of the stalls and had carried things up towards the area where the stalls were clustered and music was playing from speakers. Most of what was left here was earthworks. A wicker fenced area marked some of the fort, and several small low buildings had been reconstructed.

“Was this here in Sarah’s time?” Flynn asked as they walked towards one of them; a small post office. Dale shook his head.

“No. It was being built. Which puts a date on when she was here; 1848. The soldiers were constructing it. It became busy later, thousands of wagons passing through each season to resupply, and this was the only mail office out on the trail – although that came after Sarah’s time.”

“You can feel it?”

“I can hear bits of it. If I concentrate.”

He was relaxed, focused. Enjoying this, and that was why they were here, the difference in him to last night was considerable. He’d eaten well of a proper meal, currently he didn’t look tired, he was actively interested in this place, and while Flynn was keeping a close eye on the time, he thought a short stroll shouldn’t overtax him.

It wasn’t busy, but a steady stream of local were enjoying the stalls. Keeping close hold of Dale to avoid him being run over by free range kids, people with strollers and people incapable of looking where they were going, Flynn walked with him round the stands, murmuring a quiet description of what each held. Cakes; candles in varying shapes and sizes; bath bombs in alarming colours as if people actually wanted to get into a bath with a foaming salt cupcake never mind being prepared to pay for the privilege; a man in a Santa suit talking to highly nervous small children; a pancake stand which seemed an odd decision for a Christmas fair; and various stalls of decorations. Flynn paused by one, picking up one of the wooden ones to put gently into Dale’s hand. It was sticks, simple sticks tied with string to form a star, simple and rustic and rather appropriate to the place.

“Think Paul would like a couple of those on the tree?”

Dale smiled as he felt the shape. “Yes. That’s lovely.”

“We’ll have three of those stars please.” Flynn said to the woman behind the stall, and with a moment of reflection added several other items from the stall to the bag she was packing for them. As they walked away from the stall, Flynn put the bag into Dale’s hands. “Take a seat here for a moment and look at those? I’ll be right back, there’s a juice stand there.”

He was watching as he waited to be served at the stand, as Dale felt through the bag, drawing out first the tied bunch of cinnamon sticks and instinctively raising them to his face as he caught the scent. And then a ball, an orange studded with cloves. The feel and the scent of them had been heavy on the stall, it had reminded Flynn of watching Dale catch the scent of the pine tree at the bed and breakfast, and watching now as Dale ran a finger over the clove ball and breathed it in confirmed he’d been right. For Dale, enjoying Christmas was still a new thing, entirely based on being with them. Their traditions, the things they did together. It really mattered to Dale. He loved this season and how their family celebrated, and to miss the lights, the visuals around them was a serious loss for him. It raised a dark, grim fear that if this vision issue persisted then making things more multisensory in their daily lives was something they were going to have to get used to. It was hard. To look at him, the crisp darkness of his hair shadowed by the flickering Christmas lights, the intent expression in his face of high concentration that was there when he was tacking up a horse or standing in a board room, all of him totally absorbed in a way that always cut straight to Flynn’s heart…. Flynn took two of the paper cups and brought them across, taking a seat on the bench beside him a little stiffly.

“These bloody jeans are going in the bin when we get home. There’s no no give in them, they’d be useless for riding. Here. Mulled apple juice. It’s warm rather than hot.”

The music over the loud speakers switched to another carol. Dale sipped the juice, the clove ball in his hand.

“There are children playing by a campfire. About twenty feet to the right of us. They were camped here. They’ve pulled sticks out of the fire, they’re running around with them.”

“That sounds lethal.”

“They’re having fun.” Dale looked out into the darkness, his fingers running absently over the cloves. “Sarah’s with them. So is Clay.”

 

 

*

 

 

The children played with the smouldering, sparking sticks for a while. There was much jabbing at each other and laughing and sparks and ash flying up into the dark, clear sky. Sarah’s boots were dusty and battered, and neatly put to the side of the fire. She was playing bare foot on the grass. Her hair was plaited but coming free as if it hadn’t been brushed for a while. Weeks out on the trail, especially out here in the desert where the Platte river was thick and muddy, staying clean was getting to be harder than even the most determined family could handle. Mama had surrendered on washing their clothes days ago.

Supervision of children was very different out on the trail to at home. Adults were busy, all the time, constantly, with the effort of keeping the wagon moving, leading the animals, driving the wagons, keeping people fed. People in the group got sick, Mrs Armstrong was near constantly sick and Mr Armstrong was one of the ones they’d left under the trail in the graves the men dug and then drove the wagons over to hide the spot from looters and wolves. There were quite a lot of them. Sarah, like the other children, had seen the bones by the trail, or the flash of a plait emerging from the ground. She knew it meant another little girl like her, but it just Was. Like the rolling of the wagons and the endless bread and bacon; life just Was. Now Aunt May drove Mrs Armstrong’s wagon and Mama carried and fed their baby, wrapped in her shawl and tied to her body so she had her hands free to drive their wagon while Papa walked and led the oxen. They all walked. There was no room in the wagon for anything more than their supplies since they left Council Bluffs, and the oxen worked hard enough without having to pull passengers. Sarah and every other child old enough, walked with the adults beside the wagons. Besides, Papa’s rule was that they must never climb in or out of the wagon when it was moving. He’d talked with other wagon trains and heard the stories of children falling and being crushed under the wheels as they climbed, and he’d promised them the spanking of their lives if they ever tried it. But mostly if you were there for meals and bedtime, no one much cared what you did in between, and no one supervised. Mama still insisted on boots, and Sarah hated it. More than anything she longed to go barefoot all the time like the other children did on the prairie.

It was a childhood so absorbing and yet so completely foreign to Dale’s that it could have been a different planet, not just a different time and place. And yet here they were. Sarah paused and looked straight at him, direct into his eyes. Both of them from the ranch in Wyoming, both of them here together touching in this time and place.

David was watching the children play.

Dale saw him leaning against the fence, hands deep in his pockets and his collar turned up against the wind. Sarah walked across to him, and David offered her his hand, looking down at her as though he was searching her face for something. And then near him, suddenly Jesse was running on the grass with a burning stick in his hand. His name came in a rush to Dale along with the leap of Sarah’s heart at the sight of him, as familiarly noisy and untidy as he always was. Dark curly hair in his eyes, he was bashing his stick against anyone else’s in reach to make the sparks fly. Jesse always hit the hardest, ran the fastest and yelled the loudest of any child in their train. He bashed the stick hard against the fence as he passed it, and he jumped, his eyes going wide as the burning end of it caught on the fence post and broke off. It smoked for a second and then the woven fence burst into flame.

No child screamed. Any squeal would attract the attention of grownups whose patience for children was not high out here where they had so many demands on their time. Instead, rapidly, children gathered around the fence with their sticks, whacking at the stuck and smouldering stick end together until it fell to the ground. The fence still burned. Jesse ripped off his muddy shirt and ran to the water trough to soak it, and battered the wet fabric against the fence. With a hiss, the fire went out. The fence, somewhat charred, was no longer burning. Children scattered, giggling, abandoning the burning sticks in the fire, and a moment later no child was anywhere near the incriminating evidence. Jesse, happily shouldering back his wet and smoky shirt, scampered ahead of the others in search of something new to do.

He grinned at Dale as he passed them. A cheeky grin, with lively eyes above it. He was a little older than Sarah and Clay. Not by much, but he led the little posse across the grass. Clay too caught Dale’s eye with his gap-toothed beam. As the other children and the firelight faded away, Sarah, Jesse and Clay remained, running in and out of the blur of the stalls and peering over the edges of them.

Three of them. Now there were three.  

“Flynn,” he said conversationally, watching them, “We are knocking about an historical monument accompanied by three small children. I have no idea why.”

“Three?”

“Sarah and David just found another one. I have no idea what’s going on.”

“Did they know about the Pied Piper in Sarah’s time?”

“I have no idea, Tom’s the expert on fairy tales. I’d need to look it up. They seem… perfectly happy.”

Sarah appeared around the edge of the mulled apple juice stand and pointed at the machine crushing apples with her eyes wide. Dale nodded agreement to her that yes, it was remarkable. That was all she appeared to want.

On the way back to the car they paused by the blacksmiths where Flynn quietly described in his ear as two men worked on anvils by a fire, shoeing a particularly lovely Clysdale in a demonstration. The fire was the most visible thing in the blur. The outlines of people gathered around were also evident, and the general outline of the patient horse. Dale listened to the sound of the hammering and watched the fire leaping, and it was only after a while that he became aware of one small figure that was completely clear within the blur. The same way that Sarah, Clay and Jesse were.

Because that part I don’t see with my eyes.

It was, objectively, fascinating. It was a very lean little figure with red hair and heavy freckling over the face. Part of the freckling was a large birthmark running from the temple across the cheek to the nose. His eyes were large in the darkness and he was watching the fire. Maybe Sarah’s age.

No. No children stuck. Please, no children stuck here.

Determination mixing with concern Dale made his breath slow, his body relax and forced himself to let it flow rather than try to reach towards it. But there was none of the tension around the child that he associated with the stuck. The child was oriented in this time and place, watching what went on, not lost in whatever moment he was stuck on.

So he’s a visitor.

But a wary, timid visitor. Most visitors were confident, relaxed and at home in the places they went to. Not all, but most. Dale made himself relax further, concentrating on calm. The warmth of thought and the flow of peace, companionship, that tended to reach out to and soothe other people’s energy, and lend them strength. It made the child glance towards him.

Wary little eyes met his, and it reminded Dale of a fox. Something shy and wild, born to run.

David? Is he all right?

He often didn’t get an answer when he reached out to David directly. But he felt the response almost immediately. Yes. This child was ok. There was no need to free any spirit here.

But the child was still half hidden in the dark, alone, watching, and there was something wrong about that. Something that didn’t gel with the other children playing together out by the stalls.

Sarah?

Dale thought it as clearly as he could, bringing her strongly to mind. Making himself focus on the image of her. And almost instantly, somehow, he felt David’s energy join his and help in a way he only usually did for the ‘stuck’.

Sarah, can you hear me? Do you know this little one here?

Reid. The child’s name came to mind and Dale had no idea where it came from; David or the child himself.

Sarah?

It was a less a word he spoke in his head than a reaching for the sense of her. Whatever sense of each other they had that connected them. She was there. Her hair moving softly in the night breeze a little slower than everyone else’s around her, her feet bare, her expression thoughtful. She stood for a moment, looking at the little boy in the shadows, who looked back at her with open shock in his small face as though he couldn’t believe another child was here. Then she quite firmly went to take his hand and pulled him with her out of the corner. He was reluctant to come, he dug his heels in and pulled, but Sarah held onto his hand with both of hers with determination in her face. And he went with her.

In Dale’s experience, visitors simply flicked in and out of time and place. Wherever they wished to be they were, and when their interest shifted they moved on just as abruptly, as if they moved at the speed of thought. So when Sarah towed Reid out of the smithy Dale had no doubt, the little boy wasn’t feeling nearly as reluctant as he looked.

When Flynn walked him down to the car a few minutes later, there were now four children running around on the grass ahead of them, the little red headed boy still clutching Sarah’s hand.

 

 

             

Flynn muttered as he operated the beer draft taps for the bath, but it was, blessedly, large enough a bathing barrel to take the both of them together and it was surprisingly deep and very hot. Stefan had put a large thermos of tea with mugs and biscuits in their room since he and Jorg would stay late at the fort to help clear up after the fair. They lounged in the hot water, drank tea, and afterwards, as Flynn helped him dry his hair and change into night wear, Dale dialled the phone to call home.

It was answered promptly by a cheerful voice that announced, “Good evening and welcome to the madhouse, how may I help you?”

Music was playing in the background. Dale recognised the sounds of Stan Rogers and smiled, taking a seat on one of the overly carved chairs.

“Hi Gerry, it’s me.”

“Hello me!” Gerry’s voice raised to a yell over the music. “HEY. Can the Stan. It’s Dale, out in the wilds of – where are you darling? What is between Wisconsin and here?”

“Nebraska. Quite a lot of Nebraska.” The music turned down.

“Put it on conference.” Riley ordered in the back ground. “No, that button.”

“Well before we knew Dale, no one knew anything about conference calls and we never used them, and you live with the man not me-” Gerry stabbed at several buttons and the sound of the line changed as he found the right one. “There. Darling, you are live and accessible to the entire household, for better or for worse. I’m so sorry you’re having such a hellish time, how are you?”

“Where are you?” Riley demanded.

“Fort Kearney. We’re at around the half way mark.” Dale accepted the firm pat on the shoulder that said Flynn wanted him to get up and move to the bed. That took a moment of navigating the short wooden ladder and crawling across the wide, deep mattress that was…. inside the barrel. It was surprisingly comfortable. “We’re at a B&B tonight with a very sweet couple, who are making us sleep in a barrel.”

“You what?”

“Flynn took a photograph to prove it. It’s a giant beer barrel with a mattress in it.”

“And Flynn’s agreeing to sleep in that?” Gerry inquired. “Seriously?”

“It’s not like he has a lot of choice.” Flynn pointed out, crawling across the mattress and whacking his head audibly on the top of the barrel. Dale put a hand up to find his hair and rub it as Flynn lay down beside him.

“We had a bath in a beer barrel as well, it’s been interesting.”

“And what else have you been doing on top of this appalling perversion?” Gerry, from the sound of it, had dropped down onto a couch and the phone was on a table. Most likely the coffee table. “Ash and I arrived this afternoon, we’ve mostly been feeding bullocks since then since the tractor ignition declined to co operate and we had to drag the hay out with the shires. That was fun.”

“What’s wrong with the ignition?”

“Gerry, you had to tell them that?” Paul sounded exasperated. “Dale, Bear will sort it when he gets here tomorrow, don’t worry about it. We’re fine using the shires. There’s plenty of hands to help and most of them were playing in the snow as much as the shires were.”

“What’s at Fort Kearney?” Riley asked. “Is there still a fort?”

“Yes, we went to a Christmas fair there this evening with the couple running the B&B. The earthworks are left, a few recreated buildings like the post office.”

“Any Whats there?”

“Well Sarah’s here.”

“Is she?” Riley sounded surprised and pleased. “She’s still around with you?”

“She knows the territory. Her family travelled up to Council Bluffs, that’s was their nearest supply town and jumping on point for the trail.”

“You’ve seen Council Bluffs?” Ash’s voice asked in the background, sounding interested.

“Yes, we were there this morning. The main street still has the same shape. It was a wintering ground for wagons waiting to go out as the winter started. Wagons lined up in rows outside the stores, loading up – five months supplies had to go on each wagon.”

It was the kind of detail he could never resist adding in, this kind of thing fascinated him too much.

“What did they take?” Paul asked. “Bacon I suppose? Flour? I can’t imagine trying to stock for five months ahead with nothing else.”

“Sugar. Beans. Coffee. They walked. The children walked. There wasn’t room on the wagons once they were loaded, and the teams couldn’t pull extra weight.”

“You see them all on the western movies sitting up on the boxes at the front or on the tail board at the back,” Ash commented. “I’m guessing that isn’t accurate. Mind you, the wagons can’t have moved that fast, it must have been an easy pace to walk to.”

“Maybe two miles an hour? Well below normal walking pace.” Dale said pensively. “They covered twenty miles a day at most. We drove from Council Bluffs to Kearney in under three hours today. That would have taken them nine or ten days at best in the wagons, and we’re currently on the easy ground. From the fort onwards it got a lot harder. The desert starts beyond the fort.”

“So what was Sarah doing at Council Bluffs?” Riley asked. “Showing you where her wagon loaded up?”

“Yes, but she wasn’t that interested in that part. She was more interested in the oxen they bought to pull the wagons. Her father led or tied their horses to the wagons, there weren’t many horses around at all. All oxen, some mules. And there was a boy called Clay. He was about six. Sarah knew him. They were sitting on the fence by a corral where stock was waiting for the wagons to go out – they couldn’t start until spring was far enough along. Adults were listening to a trail leader who was talking through the contract the group were signing-”

“They signed contracts?” Gerry said, startled. “What about?”

“The terms under which they joined. The rules of the group. There’d be a leader of each group, and the order in which the wagons travelled was regulated, how they’d deal with law breakers, drinking, gambling, hunting. An agreement to follow the authority of the leader. I don’t think Sarah’s group signed one, they were a group of family and friends, they probably didn’t need it. But the adults were gathered around listening to a larger group negotiating and voting, and didn’t notice a mule was chewing out the gate pin, Snickers style.”

Riley, who spent the most time organising the corral gate to foil Snickers, laughed. “Did he do it?”

“Yes. The children sat on the fence, watched it all and didn’t say a word. Except Clay waved on a few of the oxen that needed encouraging to escape. There were animals all over the street before any adult noticed. And at Fort Kearney there was a boy called Jesse, a bit older than Sarah. The children were playing around the fire with smouldering sticks, they liked the sparks in the dark. No one was paying them much attention, the children were pretty much left to their own devices and they liked it that way. Except Jesse got over enthusiastic fighting a fence and set it on fire. The children put it out quick, no one noticed, but someone must have found a burned fence in the morning and wondered what had happened. And there was a child called Reid. With a large birth mark down his face, very shy.”

“Where was he from?”

“I don’t know. He was hiding at the fort, watching one of the blacksmith demonstrations. I think abandoned or orphaned children on the trail was something that often happened. Sarah’s family were looking after a baby from another wagon, the father died and the mother was ill. The groups travelling together probably absorbed children and anyone else left alone. But the forts were kind of a service station. People coming and going all the time through the season, I don’t know much track would have been kept of any waifs and strays getting stranded there.”

“How can you find out?” Riley asked him. Dale considered it.

“Possibly there are fort records. I don’t know. To be honest, I’m not sure Reid has any interest in that.”

“What is he interested in?”

“…..mostly, I think joining the other kids.”

“So you’ve got four What kids running around?” Riley said with amusement.     

“At the fort this evening, yes. We seem to be collecting them.”

“Why?” Luath sounded curious. “There’s usually a purpose, isn’t there?”

“Yes. Just often not something objectively – relevant.”

“People aren’t that straight forward.” Riley said to Luath. “It can be just plain ‘look at this’ with visitors. And these are kids, so it’s what matters to kids. That’s probably the part to figure out.”

“These are young kids.” Dale agreed. “Which I think matters too. Is Jasper there?”

Paul sounded gentle. “Sorry hon, he’s outside. Can I get him to call you later, or does Flynn want you to sleep?”

“Flynn wants him to sleep.” Flynn abstracted the phone from Dale. “That’s as much exercise and talking as he needs to handle today.”

“But tomorrow’s your quiet day.” Paul said.

“Quiet?” Dale said to Flynn, suspiciously.

“We’ll call you from Ash Hollow tomorrow.” Flynn said to the phone. “Sleep well, goodnight all.”

“Quiet?” Dale repeated.

“Quiet.” There was a click as Flynn turned the phone off. “I had Caroline plan in a rest day. Ash Hollow is only a couple of hours from here, so we’ll sleep in, do just the one short drive tomorrow and take some rest time.”

“We could be home by tomorrow evening if we just got on with it….” Dale said irritably. Flynn slid an arm underneath him, pulling him over.   

“Calm. We’re in no rush, we’re admiring the scenery and we’re taking the time to rest.”

Hence being in bed at eight thirty pm.

The job is to take it as it comes.

“Besides,” Flynn said in his ear. “Sarah seems to be enjoying this.”

 
continued tomorrow in part 4
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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by KateM on Fri Dec 21, 2018 1:28 pm

Thank you Rolf and Ranger, this is a fantastic Christmas gift.  And it's really interesting stuff with the history wrapped round what's happening to Dale.

I can really see David as the Pied Piper (though without the original nasty side to the story). Sarah could possibly have been aware of the story - particularly if her family originally came from Germany as that's where the story originated from in the middle ages... though I think it got "Grimm'd up" later on...

Part of me really, really hopes that on their way, Dale isn't going to discover any graves of these children - although he does already know where Sarah is buried.  I am wondering if Dale is going to discover any descendants - though if they were only passing through between here and the ranch, it's unlikely at a guess.  Though who knows where Dale's research will go.

Nice to see the family gathering back home.  So, we know we have Ash, Gerry, and Luath... Theo and Bear arrive tomorrow... Darcy I am guessing is on his way once his latest festive fashion faux pas is dealt with... then... James & Nail? Wade??   and everything is crossed Tom and Jake make it!  though if they're hitching to the ranch, they'll probably find Flynn and Dale before they get there!
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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by katkero on Fri Dec 21, 2018 2:03 pm

Thank you for this story.

This story reminds me of the time I read a book as a child of a family on the Oregon Trail. 
I can't remember the title but I remember the sensation of reading it sitting in the garden.
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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by Dells on Fri Dec 21, 2018 4:59 pm

 “bath bombs in alarming colours as if people actually wanted to get into a bath with a foaming salt cupcake never mind being prepared to pay for the privilege”


Hysterics Hysterics Hysterics Hysterics Hysterics
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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by zevale on Fri Dec 21, 2018 5:18 pm

Paul's answer "Sorry hon, he’s outside." Remenbers me a similar one in OTCOFA... is Jasper on his way to meet Dale and Flynn ?
So grateful R&R for this marvellous gift. Many thanks
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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by Hawklady on Fri Dec 21, 2018 5:44 pm

Waking up to New FCR tales everyday is the best Christmas present ever!

I'm loving the shenanigans of the children of the trail.

Making Flynn sleep and bathe in a giant beer barrel is hilarious!

I can't wait to see what Sarah has in store for us at the next stop.

Poor Flynn... This has to be excruciating for him to watch Dale go through. All things considered he's doing an admirable job not kicking everything that moves protecting his herd at this point.
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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by The6ibs on Fri Dec 21, 2018 5:50 pm

I wonder if Sarah will bring the other children back to the ranch.  They can be playmates for the Little Dale when he is ready.
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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by knox0606 on Fri Dec 21, 2018 7:08 pm

@zevale wrote:Paul's answer "Sorry hon, he’s outside." Remenbers me a similar one in OTCOFA... is Jasper on his way to meet  Dale and Flynn ?
So grateful R&R for this marvellous gift. Many thanks
That is a wonderful thought!

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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by DeeDee on Fri Dec 21, 2018 7:14 pm

Ranger and Rolf, 

You know it's rather sad that Dale can't see and that because of this, he can't truly enjoy Flynn's 'disapproval' of their hotel room.  I think if he wasn't struggling with his sight he would very much enjoy the B&B bed and bath at Flynn's expense.  And I'm rather surprised Paul didn't FedEx some Irish Spring out to the B&B for Flynn's comfort.  And I also think it's rather sad that Riley couldn't be there when Flynn saw that bed - in fact, I suspect all four of them would have really enjoyed seeing Flynn open that bedroom door to the barrel bed!  

I'll say again... Yay, grumpy Flynn made an appearance!  He even whined about the jeans he must have purchased at their last stop.  No buying queues to agitate him, but those jeans sure do!  LOL!  When he puts them in the trash, I beg you to have Paul ask why - PLEASE - because Paul needs to give him a big old 'I told you so' about trying "those on and make sure they're comfortable and you can ride in them."  

This chapter brought out all the best of grumpy Flynn without ever going to the mall - thank you!  

 I also want to say thanks for the history lessons.  Your research is wonderful and brings the story to life.  Descriptions that you can actually visualize and sort of make for a moving 'movie' when you're reading it.  It's really great!

I'm curious about all the children.  Is this going to be for Sarah's benefit when they get home - children for her to play with?  I'm guessing they all died at some point along the way to the ranch crossing?  This is all very interesting and I'm enjoying the guessing as each chapter reveals more.  

And speaking of guessing... So who really is the Pied Piper here?  Dale - because the children are appearing to him?  David - because every time a new child appears, so does David?  Or Sarah - because they are gathering to her (except perhaps in the case of Reid, who she had to grab and take with her)?  I must read that story.  I know I 'know it', but I really don't remember it at all.  

Flynn hit the nail on the head with this:  

For Dale, enjoying Christmas was still a new thing, entirely based on being with them. Their traditions, the things they did together. It really mattered to Dale. He loved this season and how their family celebrated, and to miss the lights, the visuals around them was a serious loss for him.

But you have to appreciate all that Flynn is doing to bring the joy of the trip to Dale.  Frivolous purchases by Flynn seem rather rare, as (to me) he is very practical, so those small little things bought for Dale's enjoyment (and even for Paul's - those stars) are really special!  

Saw a Hallmark show recently where they made those 'stick stars'  so I loved having an idea of what they looked like!  

I'm very much looking forward to tomorrow's story and the day of quiet.  I can't wait to see what you and Flynn have planned!  Thank you for sharing this in stages.  It let's me really appreciate the chapters as they unfold.  

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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by szdominick on Fri Dec 21, 2018 7:28 pm

Fantastic!!! Thank you for this wonderful story! I completely missed the email because yahoo thought it was spam. I was able to read everything this morning and I cannot wait for the rest of the story!


Last edited by szdominick on Fri Dec 21, 2018 7:32 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : Message was cut off)
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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by DeeDee on Fri Dec 21, 2018 7:29 pm

It just occurred to me how Dale sounds so very much like Paul when he says this to Flynn:  

“Yes. With beer draft handle taps. No shower, just the barrel. There has to be a holiday inn or a normal motel somewhere around here-”

“This is fine. It’s warm, it’s a bed and a bathroom, we’ll be gone in the morning.” Dale’s hands found him and Dale’s arms wrapped around his waist. “We can survive one night.”

Just sort of reminded me of Paul always trying to calm an 'out of his normal element' Flynn when they go shopping, but most especially from the Pumpkin Patch when they were in the hotel and Flynn was fussing about the soap.  

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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by Ranger52899 on Fri Dec 21, 2018 7:35 pm

Kate - we do happy stories only, we promise, there's nothing nasty anyone is going to find on this road trip at all! Luath and Darcy arrived at the ranch the day Flynn and Dale were at the shipyard so the family are gathering fast. 

Kat - if you remember the title of the book I'd love to read it, we've found some great biographies as we've been researching this one. 

Dells - haven't you always just felt that about bath bombs? Wink 
Ze, The6 and Knox - really sorry, no spoilers! you'll see. Smile 

Dee - thank you! We know you appreciate a little grouching at Christmas. We are certain Paul packed Irish Spring for Flynn and Dale when they left for Wisconsin, he wouldn't leave Flynn deprived. We rather enjoyed slipping in the jeans detail we admit! Paul puts up with a lot there. Wink
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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by Dizzy on Fri Dec 21, 2018 7:40 pm

Oh, I loved this part so much!  It reminds me of the books I’ve read a million times: Caddie Woodlawn, Seven Alone, etc.


I know there is a reason for the What kids, I just have no clue what it is.  However, my heart kind of melted when Sarah took Reid’s hand.  To sit from the sidelines and watch others is so difficult, more so for a child.  I wonder if it’s ever that much more for a What child?


I love touristy, tacky things and now I want to go sleep in a barrel bed!


The research you have put in this is amazing, but what is even more special is I can feel the love you put into this story too.  Just thank you.


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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by DeeDee on Fri Dec 21, 2018 7:47 pm

Ranger and Dells, 

Ok, so I have to admit that we sell those 'cupcake bath bombs' at the store I work at!  LOL!  They also come in the shape of lips and two other shapes I can't now remember.  

They came in, in time for 'Christmas sets'.  I set up the display and actually wondered WHY this was supposed to be Christmas-sy.  Why would you buy that for someone?  

Having it appear in this story is hysterical to me!  

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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by KateM on Fri Dec 21, 2018 8:05 pm

I am not sure if you have Lush shops in the USA.. but I would to see Flynn's reaction if someone tried to get him through the door and into the shop itself... before he saw the vast array of bath bombs, soaps and jellies! You'd not get him washing with a slime green jelly that smells of herbs and pine needles...
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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by abouttime2stop on Fri Dec 21, 2018 8:10 pm

random thoughts:

i bet Flynn doesn't realize how stiff all jeans feel until they are washed...I can't imagine he bought anything except 501s, or maybe Wranglers. If he did I wonder what Dale will think when he sees Flynn's butt in snug designer jeans.

so sad to read of a 'plait' showing through the ground. I imagine they can't dig deep graves, but still...

those independent problem solving children are the ancestors to many of our US citizens. I have thought about the type of person who is willing to leave security and civilization and the genes they pass down.

I hope it is not too sad to learn how Sara became a child ghost in Wyoming.

Hearing Flynn think about accommodating Dale's vision loss long term is very sad, even though we know it will not come to that. Some hardships give you insight and understanding and make you even more grateful for what you have.

Having Jasper arrive would help Flynn. I think this is harder than he is letting on. The timing, with more help arriving at the ranch, works too. 

What a delicious sounding meal. My roots have some German ancestors. Maybe that is why I love the food. i make a cold or hot bacon/potato salad (german) that disappears fast at buffets.
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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by DeeDee on Fri Dec 21, 2018 8:10 pm

We do Kate!  And I shopped at one for my niece.  May I just say, you wouldn't get me buying any of that for myself either!!

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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by DeeDee on Fri Dec 21, 2018 8:13 pm

@abouttime2stop wrote:

Having Jasper arrive would help Flynn. I think this is harder than he is letting on. The timing, with more help arriving at the ranch, works too. 

What a delicious sounding meal. My roots have some German ancestors. Maybe that is why I love the food. i make a cold or hot bacon/potato salad (german) that disappears fast at buffets.
I would love to see Jasper arrive - such a wonderful thought!

And I agree - that food sounded too good.  I need some good recipes!  I've German roots too and there are just some foods (that most folks avoid) that you crave.  I LOVE me some good sauerkraut and brats.  

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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by Ranger52899 on Fri Dec 21, 2018 8:20 pm

You'd not get him washing with a slime green jelly that smells of herbs and pine needles...


Oh lord, can you imagine the kicking off?
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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by Ranger52899 on Fri Dec 21, 2018 8:38 pm

About, the plait - we learned about that happening from an actual biography of a woman who went through the train as a child, and how often she and her sisters saw them. Very sad reading, although she was very matter of fact about it. 

The German food.... oh that thread and the pictures shared! I am determined to try making some potato dumplings over this holiday.
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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by DeeDee on Fri Dec 21, 2018 8:41 pm

If you figure out the recipe - do share (I'm more than happy to let you experiment and then share the final wonderful recipe - I'm so nice like that)!  My mother makes potato pancakes and they are wonderful, but I want to try to the dumplings and the noodle dish you mentioned!  

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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by Dells on Fri Dec 21, 2018 10:00 pm

@Ranger52899 wrote:You'd not get him washing with a slime green jelly that smells of herbs and pine needles...


Oh lord, can you imagine the kicking off?
LOLOL!!!

Someone cheeky in the family has to send him a gag gift of all Lush products. Please. I need this in my life. Hysterics Hysterics Hysterics Just like how someone anonymously donated the Lexan, someone has to anonymously gift those products to Flynn!

On a little more serious note without going too far into any details (I'm sorry, I promise I'm not trying to depress the thread!), I really appreciate the laughs this chapter bit inspired, because I really needed that today. Last night was a really tough time for me and my family, but having this today really made things a lot brighter. Thank you. group hug

And Dee, I love that you have those cupcake bath bombs in the store you work at! Now next time you see them you can be thinking of Flynn! Hysterics Hysterics
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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by DeeDee on Fri Dec 21, 2018 10:07 pm

Dells - I hope you (and your family) are doing better today.  There is really a lot to be said for distractions that you love and having them come at the right moment makes your heart swell for those that gift them to you.  I hope this story and the future chapters give you as much joy and relief.  

Yes, I will be thinking much about Flynn as those bath bombs are right by the register/checkout.  I know we have one set of lips left (or as of yesterday we did), but honestly can't remember if we have cupcakes left.  

And the worst part is I have no one there I can share the laugh with if we do!  

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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by Dells on Fri Dec 21, 2018 10:35 pm

Thank you, Dee. And you are so right: "There is really a lot to be said for distractions that you love and having them come at the right moment makes your heart swell for those that gift them to you" — you put that into much better words than I could, that's exactly it.

LOL — too bad that no one is there to share the laughs! Just know I'm laughing in spirit with you Smile and just think, if you're ever having an extremely long day, you can just look at those bath bombs and imagine what it would be like if Flynn walked into the store right now and saw them. Very Happy
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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by DeeDee on Fri Dec 21, 2018 10:36 pm

LOL!
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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by Sassy Lane on Fri Dec 21, 2018 10:43 pm

Rolf and Ranger, you two are amazing.Your stories are wildly interesting and so thoughtful. I am in love with everyone from FCR and I can't imagine a better place to spend Christmas. (I still think the ranch needs a contrary, hen-protecting, horse-loving, cat Smile)

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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by Wmarian on Fri Dec 21, 2018 11:15 pm

I love this story! (I always love a great road trip). The universe causing it thru a little shrapnel ping...slow down and take a journey thru time.
I like the closing line to this piece: 'Sarah seems to be enjoying this'....it's like a nice Christmas present for her Smile And for Dale....I can't picture him taking any other purely recreational trip before this...always something dutiful. Close to home things, I suppose, like Madison Hall parties and the Fair, Three Traders and the hot springs...who know what reckless adventure he will try next!
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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by Mell Eight on Fri Dec 21, 2018 11:24 pm

@The6ibs wrote:I wonder if Sarah will bring the other children back to the ranch.  They can be playmates for the Little Dale when he is ready.

This is exactly what I was thinking!  When Dale released his younger self onto the ranch, he noted that there were plenty of things for a young child to enjoy all over the ranch.  It was a haven for the child that had been stuffed in the old house for so long.  However, the child was still alone with only Dale (and Paul blowing bubbles) for company.  Having other children around the ranch could be very good for him.  They could teach him how to play, and how to let go and just be a child, which Dale needs.  

The ranch has always been about finding lost souls and bringing them to a home where they learn how to become part of a family.  Just because these particular lost souls are ghosts doesn't make the ranch any less so for them.  (Maybe there's a live soul in need of that too, waiting somewhere ahead on the journey?)

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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by abouttime2stop on Fri Dec 21, 2018 11:32 pm

Odd thought:
can you imagine dale's life as the adult who can see all the children who have returned to the ranch? I guess he doesn't have to worry about them getting damaged or being in danger...it could be a truly distraction lovable chaos with all those children running about at all hours. who is to say that they would all wait their turn as Sarah does? what an opportunity for him to experience the chlldish enthusiasm and joy but also to be the closest to a "parent" they have.
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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by whitecrow on Fri Dec 21, 2018 11:50 pm

R&R, I know I don't say thank you often enough, but I am so grateful that you share so much of your time and talent to enrich the lives of those you don't even know - though I am certain the ones who are regular contributors are a family to you as much as those physically near. But you touch so many of us, and that is a wonderful gift at any time of the year, but even more so at this time. Thank you very much for your generosity and care. Love from me.
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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by Hayjude on Sat Dec 22, 2018 12:00 am

Dells, sorry for your troubles and hope you can enjoy the rest of this time of year. Some poor people have unpleasant associations with Christmas and it’s such a shame because it comes around every year and people can get so caught up in it that it’s hard if you have to pretend that you’re not cringing and hating every minute of it.
There were some troubles at work for some which makes me thankful not to be there at present. Not to go into depressing details but a couple of deaths - one expected, one not - and the whole old age nursing wing down with gastroenteritis - sometimes fatal in the elderly - reared it’s head and made us wish for smelly soaps and bath bombs.
But here now family members are gathering and presents have arrived from family unable to come and I actually managed to get my pantry cleaned out and tidied yesterday. Looks so good now when I open it instead of catching things that are falling out. LOL!
Merry Christmas everyone. XX
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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by abouttime2stop on Sat Dec 22, 2018 12:40 am

I love the fictional loving family holiday times in this story. Partly I love it because these men all found each other and made their own family. In our society there is a very hard push commercially to sell the loving family times and it doesn't fit with most people's reality with their family. it's a huge set up to make a bunch of people feel like they are on the outside and alone, when most of the year they probably feel just fine about that. I tried not to be influenced this year and it half way worked. It's the first year I have no birth family except my sister, and she is busy with her own stuff. It is also a year that the family I formed is obviously going separate ways. I decided to ignore most of the season so I wouldn't become the Grinch and it is almost impossible to do. i find it very interesting that I enjoy the seasonal times with the guys at the ranch. It doesn't contribute to my doom and gloom lonely feelings. I think I get to be part of their family during the story. Thank you Rolf and Ranger. it means a lot.
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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by loyalpainter88 on Sat Dec 22, 2018 1:37 am

I love the juxtaposition ! 

One hand you have Dale and Flynn in barrel land and the other you have sarah and her group  going about the trail ..
It is really fun reading about these children and their antics ... i love the ragtag group that Dale seems to be collecting along the way ... 

I love how you put intresting characters along the way ....
The B&b owners so thoughtful and opening their home for Dale and flynn despite it being closed shows a genorosity.. 

I love how captivating this story is ... 
Thank you Rolf and Ranger
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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by loyalpainter88 on Sat Dec 22, 2018 1:51 am

A random thought .... Do the extended family already know about Dale being able to see the whats??? As of MEC only Flynn ,Paul ,Jasper and Riley know .... 
Mmm am i wrong?? 

They all know Dale has a way of knowing things a perceptuon if you will like telling Gerry about the attack on him ,telling Mason about Andrew and asking Luath about Delhi hell .... 
During the trek around ranch when he was telling about the whats i always thought it was to Paul he was saying it to not to the group as a whole ... Mmm
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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by Wmarian on Sat Dec 22, 2018 2:08 am

I think Gerry at least was part of a What-esque conversation. And what Gerry knows...
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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by Hayjude on Sat Dec 22, 2018 2:22 am

Well, Theo and Bear thought that he might be able to help in The Bear Pit and Tom and Jake have a fair idea, as well....Cue the email that was never opened, but Tom still got to help him when he needed it.
And Mason experienced that ghost train going by, as well.
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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by Wmarian on Sat Dec 22, 2018 2:42 am

That's true, and Tom was privy to a Jasper/Dale meditation conversation too


Last edited by Wmarian on Sat Dec 22, 2018 3:27 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by Wmarian on Sat Dec 22, 2018 2:43 am

Oh, and Tom knew Dale got overwhelmed by Tom's negative energy when Dale climbed out on the roof
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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by ocelotspots00 on Sat Dec 22, 2018 3:01 am

In a story full of Whats, I'm searching for the Why.  Since R&R never write anything without a purpose and a plan, I'm looking to suss out what this particular story offers in "The Ongoing Evolution of Dale - Healing the Future Healer."  

So far, I think the key to all this is:

"No. He helped other people understand this kind of stuff. Which made him realise the sheer stupidity of discovering that he believed, at heart, that it was not supposed to happen when he was working. Or away from home. Or to him."  (bold for emphasis added)


Dale has come to an understanding of his challenges and his unique gifts, even if feels uneasy and clumsy in the exercising thereof.  He's getting better and better at balance and openness and awareness and boundaries.  And the proto-idea of modern shamanism as a role and a calling has been introduced, casting a new lens of possibility and future purpose.  


But just like Philip pointed out to Flynn that, in order to become a psychologist, he had to undergo therapy himself...Dale must also learn both sides of the gift.  To be both the giver and the recipient.  Otherwise, he'll never be able to cross from sympathy to empathy in this future role.


There may have been other ways he could achieve full understanding, but R&R have chosen to make him go blind in order to begin to see.
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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by loyalpainter88 on Sat Dec 22, 2018 3:55 am

@Hayjude wrote:Well, Theo and Bear thought that he might be able to help in The Bear Pit and Tom and Jake have a fair idea, as well....Cue the email that was never opened, but Tom still got to help him when he needed it.
And Mason experienced that ghost train going by, as well.
Thanks judy ... I had forgotten about bear pit ... Its the time line i guess i get confused with it ...
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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by whitecrow on Sat Dec 22, 2018 4:00 am

Ocelotspots00 I agree with you. I felt there was a symbolism in Dale going blind before he could 'see'. And the fact that he can see the Whats clearly while the 'real' world is blurry is to me further proof of this symbolism. Thanks for saying this.
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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by loyalpainter88 on Sat Dec 22, 2018 4:11 am

@ocelotspots00 wrote:In a story full of Whats, I'm searching for the Why.  Since R&R never write anything without a purpose and a plan, I'm looking to suss out what this particular story offers in "The Ongoing Evolution of Dale - Healing the Future Healer."  

So far, I think the key to all this is:

"No. He helped other people understand this kind of stuff. Which made him realise the sheer stupidity of discovering that he believed, at heart, that it was not supposed to happen when he was working. Or away from home. Or to him."  (bold for emphasis added)


Dale has come to an understanding of his challenges and his unique gifts, even if feels uneasy and clumsy in the exercising thereof.  He's getting better and better at balance and openness and awareness and boundaries.  And the proto-idea of modern shamanism as a role and a calling has been introduced, casting a new lens of possibility and future purpose.  


But just like Philip pointed out to Flynn that, in order to become a psychologist, he had to undergo therapy himself...Dale must also learn both sides of the gift.  To be both the giver and the recipient.  Otherwise, he'll never be able to cross from sympathy to empathy in this future role.


There may have been other ways he could achieve full understanding, but R&R have chosen to make him go blind in order to begin to see.

That is a beautiful insight ocelot .. 
I understand , there is a difference between looking and really seeing ..... 
 I think the Little Dale might be the one collecting all these what friends , they are within his age group.... he needs play companions ... Am sure Dale dint have any when he was a child . The Ranch is full of grown ups .... Although they provide little Dale with security and love ... They cant always play with him like children do ... 
I like to think all these experiences sarah clay reid showing him are wonderful .. in that carefree attitude of no study ,just playing , amusing oneself with the company of the other kids , getting dirty in the mud ( of which am certain Dale has no experience) .. in watching animals breakfree from their and breaking up " serious " discussion of the adults .... 
Just enjoying onself without stress and that you can have fun anywhere ... 

I remember Jasper saying he needs to have compassion for this little dale ... I think this is how he develops it . To be able to fully appreciate being the giver and receiver as you put it .
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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by Nonni on Sat Dec 22, 2018 4:38 am

I'm so glad to know the year little Sarah was traveling. The experience on the Oregon Trail was very different depending on the time period with later years having more "amenities" along the trail, but more issues brought on my sheer numbers of people and animals trying to use the same space over and over again!

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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by Hayjude on Sat Dec 22, 2018 5:14 am

A little like the number of people trying to summit Everest increases the difficulty with crowding and waiting around in the cold.
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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by Nonni on Sat Dec 22, 2018 5:21 am

Yes, good comparison.

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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by abouttime2stop on Sat Dec 22, 2018 6:48 am

there were also certain periods with more disease - cholera - and more unrest with the native americans. '48 was before gold was discovered and the "rush" began.
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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by Hayjude on Sat Dec 22, 2018 7:01 am

Yes, that wouldn’t have been a good time to be traveling.
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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by debbysmith796 on Sat Dec 22, 2018 7:54 am

I think the book might be “children of the Oregon trail” by A.Rutgers van der Loeff...he also wrote “the silver sword” ...great children’s books, but really sad in places

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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by Hayjude on Sat Dec 22, 2018 11:30 am

Yes, Children on the Oregon Trail sounds familiar. That may have been it.
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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

Post by Denicemarcell on Sun Dec 23, 2018 12:07 am

Jasper pointed out the Native American children playing in the river to Dale one night early on.
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Re: Christmas Story - Oregon Way part 3b

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