Posts Tagged ‘Oregon Trail’
The inn was full near Glenns Ferry, Idaho. We were unaware that the Three Island Crossing was taking place, the annual (and this year, final) reenactment of (yes) the Oregon Trail settlers struggling to cross the dangerous Snake River with their wagons and horses. Every RV park for miles was full: the state park, Power Pop Campground, everything. (“Power Pop”, that cracked Ralph up. “Is that next to Speed Metal RV Park? Across from Hair Band KOA?”)
We met Stan, the caretaker of Carmela RV Park, who took pity on our ignorance and graciously offered us a place to hook up in the parking lot of Carmela Vineyards, right next to the vines and tasting room.
The Utah scenery abruptly vanished when the wind kicked up and created a brownout of smoke and grit from Provo to Ogden so thick we could barely see the huge temple in downtown SLC. People everywhere were apologizing. (“It’s never like this!”) A crusty guy in line at the gas station convenience store reported that “one of the islands in the lake”—what on earth could he have been talking about—was on fire due to a lightning strike.
When a state park is downgraded to a county park it falls into a bureaucratic black hole for a period, making it impossible to find online or otherwise. Such was the fate of Fort Buenaventura, which we finally discovered hidden behind the railroad yard.
When I moved to Portland twenty years ago I thought the Oregon Trail was, well, in Oregon. I’m embarrassed that I was surprised to encounter historic aspects of the trail (and signs of Lewis and Clark) in almost every Western state we visited.
Fort Laramie in Wyoming is (according to the Smithsonian Guide to Historic America, our roadtrip reference bible) one of the West’s most important forts. As a trading post in the 1840s it became a popular stop on the Oregon Trail, one-third of the way to the promised land and the first place to swap an ox in 300 miles. Today, it’s restored to appear the way it looked back in the day and “provides a glimpse of a bygone military era”.