A Ten Pound Bag
Chapter 61: On the Road to Omaha
Copyright© 2020 by Emmeran
I was up before the dawn, I think I actually beat the rooster out of bed this morning. It seems that I was eager to get out on my own travelling again, solitude had been hard for me to come by in recent months. I was definitely looking forward to getting out on the trail and on my own for a while. Michelle had taken me to bed early and it wasn’t just for a good night’s sleep. Sometime in the middle of the night Matilda squeezed in and cried for a bit while I held her, there was still a girl in there somewhere. I still slept well nonetheless.
I took a long hot shower knowing that it would be a while before I would have that luxury again; I was surprised to find that we were now using handmade soap, Matilda never ceased to surprise me. Cleansed and now dressed in my 19th century travel garb it was time to eat and hit the road. Yes Michelle had a long conversation with me about clothing and we pulled together something that wouldn’t make me stand out too much. The good news was that they had two shirts that the girls had put together for me from Matilda’s cloth hoard and I was allowed to wear a pair of my blue jeans. I had a handmade leather coat to wear and my old beater cowboy hat, my boots were modern but they would pass casual inspection without a problem.
I had a .22 auto stashed on my boot and the M1911 in a shoulder holster, the double barrel was in the rifle sheath and the breech loader was rolled up in my blanket roll. The muskets were in the pommel holsters in front of me as was a portion of the ammo for all the firearms. I had my knife on my belt and the woodsman ax on a horse pack.
Michelle went through the pack load-out for each of the pack horses, everything was distributed and they both carried a very light load; I doubted that would be the case on my return journey. The bottles and jars were each swaddled in burlap wraps that were stuffed with wool and hay; the girls had whipped those up in less than an hour, Matilda was brilliant and training them well. I was shown my food pack and camping utensils and not allowed to look at the food until I was on the trail, apparently they had packed some surprises. My utensils were what I had bought precisely for this type of camping/hunting excursion, it was all modern and pack fitted taking up very little space. I even had an ember bucket designed to carry hot coals from the previous fire through to the next evening’s fire. Amos had a separate pack of small kindling for me mostly I think to remind me that I sucked at starting fires from scratch, nice gesture and very nice dig coming from a kid who was scared of his own shadow just a month ago.
They overloaded me at breakfast and I ate until almost bursting, I had private conversations with everyone after to remind them of the role they were expected to play while I was gone. Michelle was left in charge and Holder was to provide camp security. Everyone knew where their weapons were and where they were supposed to go in case of emergency, the rendezvous point was set in the grove near the orchard. Hope for the best but prepare for the worst.
I mounted up and rode off with the pack horses trailing behind and Brin leading the way. Brin was a great traveling companion, his nose and ears were far better than mine by a long shot and he never went rabbit crazy and crashed out into the brush chasing fantasies. If something worried him he would stop dead and I would follow suit, if he skirted an area then I did also; I know for a fact that we dodged at least one rattler that way.
We followed the game trails and when we came to a fork we always bore north-by-northwest, I knew we had rivers ahead of us that we would need to cross and the further west we went the easier it would be. Brin waited at every fork while I took compass readings and updated my maps, I could only measure the distance traveled by time until we came to major geographic feature that was noted on my maps. The maps I had found on this area were incredibly vague and sometimes of dubious origin, folks in the early 1800s seemed to have had different concepts of distances than someone like me who grew up in the modern world.
We made it to the edge of the forest in just under two hours, it was slower going trailing the pack horses and I wasn’t taking the most direct route out to the prairie. My plan was to make a circular journey until I crossed the Platte and then head due east, I knew I had to cross the Little Nemaha and the Saline River before I got to the Platte. The further west I was when I attempted those crossings the easier it would be, I decided to stay within the tree-line today and break northwest tomorrow morning.