Good friends and history living
I had the chance to get away from the house this last weekend. I had planned to visit the Fort Washita Rendezvous some months ago. But often my plans change due to kids, wife or job. But I was undetered this time around, even with softball tournaments, basketball practices and tournaments pending over the weekend. Normally I am required to be home, as I am the designated driver and navigator to all things sports. My dear sweet wife may be an elite registered nurse in our hometown but she is seriously handicapped when it comes to navigation.
To summarize my wife's weekend, she started driving kids around at 8am, came home for her Weight Watcher meeting, and then drove kids from this or that until 6pm. God bless her for doing this while I was away having fun with my friends.
Now for the fun with my friends. I have a hobby called Living History. It is best described dressing and behaving like a people from a early period in history. I, like my friends, choose to dress as the Cherokees did in Oklahoma in the 1820s. For those of you unenlighted to this period, it is the same period in which Sequoyah lived in Oklahoma and invented our Cherokee syllabary. Another famous Cherokee, Tachee lived during this period. He was a much revered warrior and was present at the Camp Holmes Treaty in 1836 north of present day Lexington, Oklahoma. I have had the honor to portray both of these important Cherokees in various productions and events. Normally I am just the humble Cherokee fur trader, Red Squirrel. Sa-lo-li Gi-ga-ge (Squirrel Red) is how that is pronounced in Cherokee.
I drove down to Fort Washita starting around 11am Friday. My plan was to meet with Rusty and Cody Bowen for the day, as they had other things to do on Saturday. Getting my old friends from the hobby together with my new friends in the hobby will only make the camping and events all that much better. The trip down was uneventful until I got to Madill. A train was blocking the highway out of town on the east side. My patience finally ran out after 15 minutes of waiting for it to move. Watching it move and then stop again, pushed me over the edge. So I ventured out to find an alternate path around the train. I found one finally south of Madill as I passed under the railroad tracks. The next trick is to find some section lines to get back to highway 199 going into Fort Washita. This is a little more tricky in eastern Oklahoma than around my home town where every mile is a north-south or east-west section line. But I finally managed to find a road that lead to a road that required me to ford a shallow creek. I took some upstream and downstream pictures just for fun. It was as we called it in the Marine Corps an "improved ford". Meaning it had some concrete on the bottom. I was a bit disappointed but you take what you can get.
Once I arrived at the Fort. I quickly found my friends. I hung out with Rusty and Cody until they had to get on their way. I then set up my camp site. It is refered to as a diamond fly. I cheat a little bit due to my bad back and throw down a foam pad and sleep on it with my other historically accurate gear. I have slept on the ground a great many times in various periods. Some highlights, at a French and Indian War period event I slept on the ground when the temperature dropped to 12 degrees farenheit. At a Civil War event I slept in a field well away from camp and was awoken with the wet nose of a curious coyote that sniffed me while I slept. I nearly wet myself. And I have slept on the ground during a western Tennessee thunderstorm which had my tent collapse having the ridge poll strike me in the cheek while the water made rivers around and eventually through our tent. So I can say...been there, done that. So I grant myself a little latitude now in my 40s.
I spent most of the day with my friends David (Cut Finger), Dave (formerly Chooch(boy), now named Dog Killer), Pawnee Matt (he was portraying a Choctaw this weekend), Smitty (Andrea the silversmith) and his friend Chick. We performed our duties answering the questions of the tourists and standing proudly as our pictures are taken dozens of times every hour. In 1997 when came to this event for the first time dressed in our Southeastern Native dress. Like the journals describing the "oriental appearance" we were truly different than the leather clad "mountain man" types at this event. To walk the 200 yards to the top of the hill from the lower area took me over 2 hours due to the people taking our pictures. We really set a standard that day. Now many more people dress appropriately. It's good to see after all these years.
The time I had with my friends drinking a little bit of rum and beer and just hanging out talking about history and modern events and the obligatory insults to each person's character and heritage can never be described without saying, "well... you had to be there." In this hobby we often look for those moments that transport us back to the actual time and each time you live one, it makes you all that more hungry for them to happen again. I have lived several moments like that and it makes you long to live in the period with attention as closely as you can to being correct in your impression. More like "them" you can be, the more likely you are to live one again.
As with these weekends they have to end and you must make the long, long drive back, metaphorically and physically into the
Fort Washita like many sites in Oklahoma are some of the state's great secret places. Most of them are off the beaten path and worth the drive to visit them. And while you're there think about the brave men and sometimes women that lived at the edge of the known civilized world. It was the frontier and in that time it was a dangerous and wild place to live.
I started home after saying my last goodbyes to my friends who were in the process of doing the same. On the way home the often much anticipated 60,000 mile mark came as I was driving through Wayne Oklahoma. So I guess in the coming weeks I'll be writing about the 60,000 mile maintenance of my Discovery.
I have put up a Hi-Res copy of the Disco in front of the fort if you are interested.
Thanks for reading and happy Rovering.