It wasn’t something I’d chosen intentionally – the current of the exploration simply swept me up on it’s way westward. Once word got back to St. Charles that the wagon train that had left the following spring had reached the Oregon Territory pretty much intact, it passed from the realm of fantasy into something that felt accomplishable. The west presented something new for everyone. It presented a way out. It was an escape from the lure of the city, a strike out at the unknown.
Just as the prairies beyond Missouri were storied to be vast – so were the imaginations of what we all thought we’d find there and who we might become. For me it was a chance to get some space – both literally and figuratively – between me and this life so far. I naively thought that if I could draw out a thousand miles behind me, that life would finally let me free. They never warn when you are out there on the frontier – any fear you packed along with you becomes amplified, the silence gets filled by whatever you bring with you. It’s true that a lot of did come through the other side of it, but not even the strongest amongst us came through it completely intact.