Hank and Marilyn Coast to Coast 2017 travel blog

Wonderful museum prepares us for our journey

Three trails leave Independence

Mountain men led the emigrants

Brave women carried their children

In the 1840s few Europeans lived west of the Mississippi River. The Louisiana Purchase in 1803 had roughly doubled the size of the United States, but the great plains were covered with Indian nations. Spain controlled the South-west, and England had claims to the North-west. But in the 1840s nearly half a million Americans moved into the disputed territories and they changed the history of the continent. The National Frontier Trails Museum tells the story and prepared us for our journey.

The city of Independence on the Missouri River was a major jumping off place into the unknown western lands. In the background of the painting can be seen steamboats unloading emigrants. In town they formed wagon trains. Some went along the major trading trail to Santa Fe, New Mexico. We will reach Santa Fe in early October. Others went to California, lured by the news of gold.

Hundreds of thousands went to Oregon, dreaming of starting new lives. They were led through the Rocky Mountains by mountain men like Jim Bridger. Entire families, with many women carrying young children, made the six-month journey mostly by foot, walking along side wagons filled with supplies and worldly possessions.

Tomorrow we leave to follow the Oregon Trail. We will not walk, nor take six months. Our faithful Subaru, carrying our supplies and worldly possessions, will take us 150 miles each day. But we hope to touch something of the wonder of traveling new lands, meeting new people, and embracing the wonder of our country. Such was supper tonight. Our server Monica was from a small town with only one stop sign! She struggled to adjust to this big city when she came to college. She aspires to be a math teacher, and we wished her well.

We did a lot of driving today through different neighborhoods in Independence. The homes in these neighborhoods are not cookie cutter. Some are Spanish style, others are Craftsman with Victorian and mid-century modern showing up as well. Many of the homes have large front porches with chairs set invitingly for resting "a spell." I'm used to seeing sidewalks in neighborhoods, but outside city limits there weren't any to see. Guess the roads are quiet enough that there's little danger walking in the road, or home owners don't mind pedestrians walking on their grass.

Hank and I have been marveling about the courtesy of drivers. Pedestrians have the right of way at intersections, cars come to a full stop at stop signs and yellow lights are respected - no rushing to beat the light means no cameras at intersections.

The first week of traveling gave us temperatures in the 90s. This week, following heavy rain in Kentucky, has been in the 80s. Excellent traveling weather with a breeze most days. Not sure what Harvey will bring to us, but we won't be camping again until early next week. We're lucky enough to be staying in motels until we reach Fairbury, Nebraska, where we'll explore the Pony Express.

We've been fortunate to find packaged salads in the grocery stores we've searched out. We have a cooler filled with salads and yogurts and canned soups that we heat on the camping stove Hank's brother lent us. We're running low on the propane for the stove so we stopped at a Bass Pro Shop to look for it. The man at the customer service counter had never seen the 8.8 oz. can of propane. He recommended we look at Home Depot or another hardware super store. We thanked him and since the store is fascinating (stuffed animals in vignettes among trees and flowing water with live water fowl and fish in the ponds and "aquariums") we wandered the store. Discovered they even had a seafood restaurant in the middle of the store! Competitive prices to boot. Thinking we might need to replace our stove we headed to the camping section, and there on the bottom shelf we found exactly what we needed. Canned propane at $3.99 a can. We bought 2 without breaking the bank. We thanked God and headed to our next stop - a bookstore for Hank.

I didn't go in. Quilt stores are my thing this trip so I avoided temptation and waited for Hank in the car. 30 minutes later he's back with a CD, 2 books for himself and a quilting book for me! What a sweetheart. Said it was "our" style of quilts, and it was on clearance. (We've made one quilt together and I have hopes we'll do it again.)

Thanks for your patience in reading this part of the blog. We haven't just visited tourist and history places. Wanted to give a flavor of life on the road. We'll pack up tomorrow morning and head for Topeka, stopping at 2 quilt shops along the way. They just don't make them like this at home!

Our thanks to those of you who have sent texts and emails and even made phone calls. It is a blessing to have friends like you. Until we meet again, may we all be safe and in God's peace.

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