My journey officially begins July 8, 2017, when I will set out on The Barlow Road through the Cascade Mountains for seven days with the 4-H Wagon Train. I’ll hitch my team of two horses, June and Johnny, to a fully loaded wagon and follow and be followed by other wagons going up the trail for 8-12 miles a day. We will make camp together each night and break camp together each morning, sharing the work and creating a rolling community for a week. At this point, I know very little else of what to expect from this adventure or the people involved.
For me, the journey actually began today. Today, the wheels on the wagon that will take me on this adventure started rolling, traveling from the home of Lyle Spiesschaert in Forest Grove to The Anvil Academy in Newberg, Oregon where it it will receive a variety of repairs.
Lyle is the current owner of the wagon and the one entrusting it to me for my first wagon train adventure. Lyle agreed to load the wagon onto his trailer and let me tag along for the delivery. I’d met Lyle several times over the past few years, but I’d never talked with him. As we drove, I got my first chance to hear Lyle’s personal story, learn about his passion for the 4-H Wagon Train, and hear more of the history and significance of the wagon we were hauling. Built in 1917, the wagon turns 100 years old this year. For 3 decades it has served the 4-H Wagon Train and covered hundreds of miles with dozens of families who’s lives were made larger by the experience, an experience symbolic of a time when people risked everything for a better life. The origin of the American road trip, only without highways or truck stops or GPS or Roadside Assistance.
From the time I started seriously thinking about this adventure, about a month ago, I’ve met numerous people who regularly participate and share the same passion for the 4-H Wagon Train as Lyle expressed to me today. When I first say that I am thinking about going on the trip, their eyes light up and I feel their excitement – like a salesman making his first sale, every time. It’s contagious. I don’t know how you could meet these people and hear these stories, and not feel drawn in. I must admit that it sounds too good to be true. So, I’m letting my desire for an adventure with my beloved horses, and the opportunity for this unique experience, be the driving force toward the moment we hit the trail on July 8th.
This blog will be the weekly story of my journey and the stories of the people who help make it possible.
Next week: “The Wagon & The Craftsmen”