Monday, April 26, 2010

This Is The Life

Hi Kids,

I LOVE travelling with Miss Elaine. She goes such neat places! We just got back from Wildcatter Ranch in Texas. There were so many things to do I didn't have time to do them all even though Miss Elaine made me get up early. We checked out the swimming pool and hot tub early Friday morning then Miss Elaine let me sit in the seat of a surrey. It has fringe on the top -- just like the one in the song from "Oklahoma!"

Next we went down to the pasture to feed the longhorn cattle. This is me with Big Boy. He has the third longest horns of any longhorn -- they stretch 98 inches from tip to tip. He was very gentle so I wasn't scared but I had to watch out when he turned his head!

We had lunch at the Dinner Bell Cafe in Graham. That's me sitting in the big dinner bell. It looks just like the ones the cowboy cooks used to call the cowboys to dinner -- just bigger. We had a real Texas cowboy meal -- chicken fried steak with gravy, mashed potatoes, beans, a roll and fried okra.

This is me with my new friend Trey. He's in the second grade. His dad works on the ranch. Trey let me ride with him in the back of the mule -- that's a kind of ATV that holds a bunch of people and is good for work. You can haul feed or tools in the back -- or Trey and me!

Here's a picture of Miss Elaine's friends -- they're all travel writers. Do you see me up in the tree? They call this the longhorn tree because it has two big branches like horns.

After such a busy day, a good massage was just the thing!

I'll write another post soon about my horseback riding adventure!


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Seeking Independence

Hi Kids,
I hope you got my postcard from Independence, Missouri. This town is just east of Kansas City and is important for a number of historical reasons. Lewis and Clark came through here when they explored the Louisiana Purchase territory in 1804.

By 1821, it was the beginning of the Santa Fe Trail, a trading route that went to Santa Fe which was then part of Mexico. As the trail went west through western Kansas, it split briefly into two routes. One went across the corner of Colorado then south to Santa Fe. The other was called the Cimarron Cutoff and went across the panhandle of Oklahoma. Both trails wound up in Santa Fe. My cousin Teddy went to Santa Fe last year -- if you look back in the blog, you'll find a picture of him at the end of the trail.

Later, as pioneers traveled west, they split off the Santa Fe Trail and headed northwest on the Oregon Trail. Another split happened when gold was discovered in California in 1849. Gold seekers split off the Oregon Trail to head southwest to the gold fields. But most everyone started in Independence.

While we were in Independence, we took a wagon ride. The horses' names were Ruby and Pearl. Most wagons west weren't pulled by horses. Mules and oxen were stronger and could last longer. And most pioneers didn't ride in the wagons -- they walked beside the wagons. Think about that when you take a long ride in the car. I bet the kids knew better than to ask "Are we there yet?"

We also went to the National Frontier Trails Museum where we learned about the trails and the pioneers. It has a neat area where kids can load a little wagon. They have to think of all the things they'll need on the trail. Lots of times pioneers tried to take their favorite things with them but discovered they needed the wagon space for food and tools to survive on the trail. If you were going west in a wagon and could only take one favorite thing, what would it be? I travel very light -- but I'd like to take some honey!

Miss Elaine has to go now so I have to say good-bye. I'll try to write some more this afternoon. I have lots more to tell you.