View Full Version : How I spent my summer vacation ...

02-12-2010, 03:43 PM
I've heard some background noise about this event and the summer heat. It goes without saying that August is hot. However, I don't think it will be as hot as everyone anticipates it to be. In the middle of a particularly cold, snowy winter, August must seem like Hades and the surface of the Sun combined. I refer you to this site (http://www.weather.com/weather/wxclimatology/monthly/graph/USTN0122?from=tenDay_bottomnav_undeclared) for detailed information about average temps and rainfall for the area. Ranging from the low 80's to the low 60's, temperatures are about what they are across the nation at that time, from Minneapolis to South Carolina. It will be hotter in Culpeper, VA, on average, than Crossville, TN, in August.

If you think you are going to melt in the sun under the glare of stern taskmasters at this event, think again. The event organizers have already planned daily movements around the "heat of the day", the site is primarily wooded and the company captain, while an ass, is not a martinet. When the sun is at its worst, you will be in the shade resting with plenty of water. You will be allowed to remove your jackets as needed. The pace of movement will be such that we can rest as needed.

Also, keep in mind that the event site, while vast and huge, is finite. We can only go so far in a given day or we will quickly run out of event site. This will not be a daily forced march scenario. A man in reasonable condition will keep up just fine.

For me, the success of this event is measured in everyone leaving the event site as happy and healthy as they arrived!

I know some are hesitating over the length of the event, as well. To this, I can only offer my own experience as an example of how important such an event can be in your hobby experience. I've been in this hobby for 33 years and the one event that stands out for me over all others is/was the Red River 2 campaign event. For a week, I was a company sergeant in a functioning infantry company in the field, marching from Point A to Point B. That event is, for me, the benchmark against which all events are measured. A week long event is a rare thing. They don't occur annually. If you consider for a moment that this is one event, one year, out of all the years you have, isn't it worth using your vacation time to do something different?

I know fully that life's demands make it hard to commit to a week long event. Family, work and traditional family vacations are the priority. But if you are a young, single man, without a wife and children to consider, then I wholly encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity while you can. "Next time" may be too late. For those with understanding families, perhaps just this once they can take a family vacation without you. Yeah, I know what you are thinking, but really ... would the world end if you didn't go to the beach with mom and the kids? :cool: I jest.

Okay, that is my appeal to you. That is about all the arm-twisting I care to do. For those that are hesitant, I only wish to reassure you. To those sitting on the fence trying to decide, I only wish to encourage you. To those who will be miserable the entire time, are unprepared mentally or physically for the challenges that lie within this event, or for whom the time off is not available without consequences, I suggest you let it go and relax. Don't kick yourself too hard when you read the AAR's. There's always next year, right? :cry_smile

02-13-2010, 12:25 AM
At least one wagon is ox-drawn. Oxen move at about 2 miles an hour. When they are in a real hurry, they move at 2 miles an hour. That means the column won't move any faster than about 2 miles an hour. I'm a fat, old man: I can move at 2 miles an hour.

Ever hear of "nooning"? It's a layover during the hottest part of the day. The column will be nooning. It means starting out early and ending up near dark, with a break in the middle. It's very doable.

Vacation time is already set aside; my son and I will be there. He enjoyed the challenges of Bummers. I've got a feeling he'll get even more out of this one.

02-14-2010, 05:06 PM
This event should be a good one.
I had fun at The Piney Woods and was a good experience. Now this event is going to be longer with a wagon train and marching the same distance.
Sign me up!

02-14-2010, 09:21 PM
But if you are a young, single man, without a wife and children to consider, then I wholly encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity while you can.

Two out of three ain't bad. Besides I can't let the young men have all the fun.

Joe, I'm in, but you already knew that.

Now in all seriousness, I've been blessed in the past to have a number of outstanding experiences in living history. I just participated in the Drover School to learn something about working with animals and wagons. There I listened and participated in the discussions about this event which gave me every indication that it is going to be something 'different' than every other event I've ever been too.

If you don't come then you won't know what it was like.

02-19-2010, 10:00 PM
Its always nice to come in from a long week on the road to a mailbox full of registration forms and remittances.
This time of year, accounting work does run eight days a week. I love it! :D

In order to Get In The Van, you have to send your registration in.
In order to do that, you first have to get on the listserver for In The Van

Its here:


02-21-2010, 10:43 AM
Thoughts of summer lead one to desire a refreshing dip. Sometimes instructions are needed when wagons are involved...........

A man who is an expert swimmer then takes the end of a fishing-line or a small cord in his mouth, and carries it across, leaving the other end fixed upon the opposite bank, after which a lariat is attached to the cord, and one end of it pulled across and made fast to a tree; but if there is nothing convenient to which the lariat can be attached, an extra axle or coupling-pole can be pulled over by the man who has crossed, firmly planted in the ground, and the rope tied to it. The rope must be long enough to extend twice across the stream, so that one end may always be left on each shore. A very good substitute for a ferry-boat may be made with a wagon- bed by filling it with empty water casks, stopped tight and secured in the wagon with ropes, with a cask lashed opposite the center of each outside. It is then placed in the water bottom upward, and the rope that has been stretched across the stream attached to one end of it, while another rope is made fast to the other end, after which it is loaded, the shore-end loosened, and the men on the opposite bank pull it across to the landing, where it is discharged and returned for another load, and so on until all the baggage and men are passed over.

The wagons can be taken across by fastening them down to the axles, attaching a rope to the end of the tongue, and another to the rear of each to steady it and hold it from drifting below the landing. It is then pushed into the stream, and the men on the opposite bank pull it over. I have passed a large train of wagons in this way across a rapid stream fifteen feet deep without any difficulty. I took, at the same time, a six-pounder cannon, which was separated from its carriage, and ferried over upon the wagon- boat; after which the carriage was pulled over in the same way as described for the wagons.

There are not always a sufficient number of airtight water-casks to fill a wagon-bed, but a tentfly, paulin, or wagon-cover can generally be had. In this event, the wagon-bed may be placed in the center of one of these, the cloth brought up around the ends and sides, and secured firmly with ropes tied around transversely, and another rope fastened lengthwise around under the rim. This holds the cloth in its place, and the wagon may then be placed in the water right side upward, and managed in the same manner as in the other case. If the cloth be made of cotton, it will soon swell so as to leak but very little, and answers a very good purpose.

Another method of ferrying streams is by means of what is called by the mountaineers a "bull-boat," the frame-work of which is made of willows bent into the shape of a short and wide skiff, with a flat bottom. Willows grow upon the banks of almost all the streams on the prairies, and can be bent into any shape desired. To make a boat with but one hide, a number of straight willows are cut about an inch in diameter, the ends sharpened and driven into the ground, forming a frame-work in the shape of a half egg- shell cut through the longitudinal axis. Where these rods cross they are firmly secured with strings. A stout rod is then heated and bent around the frame in such a position that the edges of the hide, when laid over it and drawn tight, will just reach it. This rod forms the gunwale, which is secured by strings to the ribs. Small rods are then wattled in so as to make it symmetrical and strong. After which the green or soaked hide is thrown over the edges, sewed to the gunwales, and left to dry. The rods are then cut off even with the gunwale, and the boat is ready for use.

To build a boat with two or more hides: A stout pole of the desired length is placed upon the ground for a keel, the ends turned up and secured by a lariat; willow rods of the required dimensions are then cut, heated, and bent into the proper shape for knees, after which their centers are placed at equal distances upon the keel, and firmly tied with cords. The knees are retained in their proper curvature by cords around the ends. After a sufficient number of them have been placed upon the keel, two poles of suitable dimensions are heated, bent around the ends for a gunwale, and firmly lashed to each knee. Smaller willows are then interwoven, so as to model the frame.

Green or soaked hides are cut into the proper shape to fit the frame, and sewed together with buckskin strings; then the frame of the boat is placed in the middle, the hide drawn up snug around the sides, and secured with raw-hide thongs to the gunwale. The boat is then turned bottom upward and left to dry, after which the seams where they have been sewed are covered with a mixture of melted tallow and pitch: the craft is now ready for launching.

A boat of this kind is very light and serviceable, but after a while becomes water-soaked, and should always be turned bottom upward to dry whenever it is not in the water. Two men can easily build a bull-boat of three hides in two days which will carry ten men with perfect safety.

A small party traveling with a pack train and arriving upon the banks of a deep stream will not always have the time to stop or the means to make any of the boats that have been described. Should their luggage be such as to become seriously injured by a wetting, and there be an India-rubber or gutta-percha cloth disposable, or if even a green beef or buffalo hide can be procured, it may be spread out upon the ground, and the articles of baggage placed in the center, in a square or rectangular form; the ends and sides are then brought up so as entirely to envelop the package, and the whole secured with ropes or raw hide. It is then placed in the water with a rope attached to one end, and towed across by men in the same manner as the boats before described. If hides be used they will require greasing occasionally, to prevent their becoming water-soaked.

The Prairie Traveler by Randolph Barnes Marcy, Captain, U.S.A.