Summary: When traveling with a wagon train, friends come and go. But what if it’s your best friend, and you never got to say good-bye? (Written for a challenge to create an OC from the song title Me and Bobby McGee.)
Rating – K, Word Count – 5854
Each year when Spring comes around the memories flood back to me. The warmer days, the growing grasses, and the blooming wildflowers trigger it all again. It’s been so many years, a lifetime really, but once a year it seems like yesterday. When it happens I’m unable to put it aside and I’m no good to anyone. I just have to get away, to be alone to remember, and to get through the loss, again. I know my brothers don’t understand but Pa does, in a way.
Once I’m out here in the wilderness with nothing but the calls of birds and the azure sky above me, I can let the memories loose. She was so beautiful, so full of life. We filled each other to the brim with laughter and joy. As a soft breeze ruffles my hair it reminds me how she would do the same just to tease me. Closing my eyes she appears. It’s so easy to lose myself once again to the time when I was eight, and it was just me and Bobby McGee.
Pa, me, and Hoss had made it to Oregon Country* and the prettiest river valley I’d ever seen, and Pa said the Pacific Ocean was only another hundred miles away. But he said we weren’t staying, so after a good rest, he decided we’d head south toward some mountains called the Sierra Nevada. Two families, whose older boys I played with, left the wagon train quite a ways back but now an older couple, and a brother and sister, but no children had joined us as we prepared to leave. It was looking like my little brother, Hoss, was going to be my only companion on this leg of our trip.
“Whatcha lookin’ at?”
Surprised to hear another child’s voice I looked up and saw a girl about my age with golden red hair staring down at me. The April morning sun highlighted the freckles that dotted her nose and cheeks, and made her blue eyes sparkle.
“Can I see?”
“I guess so. Where’d you come from?”
She dropped to her knees onto the grass, her pale yellow calico dress billowing out around her.
“That last wagon. I’ve been helpin’ my Mama who’s not feeling so good.”
I glanced over my shoulder to see Pa holding my wiggly baby brother and standing by a wagon behind ours. He was talking to a tall man with a red beard. It looked like another family was going to join us.
Remembering my manners I turned back to the girl and was greeted with a bright smile.
“I’m Adam, uh, Cartwright. My Pa’s leadin’ this train.”
“I’m Bobby McGee.” When my eyebrows shot up at her unexpected name, she looked down for a moment, suddenly interested in her dress. “It’s short for Roberta but nobody calls me that except my parents.” Her head popped up and her cheerful smile returned.
My eyes couldn’t seem to leave her pretty face until she tapped the book and giggled. Time seemed to stop as we studied the pictures, talked about books we wished we had, and about our families, and the dreams we had for our new homes. In no time I felt I’d known her all of my life. Funny, she said the same thing.
As the days drifted by Bobby and I took turns riding together and walking beside the wagons. We created imaginative stories, we ran through tall grasses and picked wildflowers, we laughed. Filled with joy and life for the first time in a long while, I lived for each moment I could spend with Bobby.
One morning I woke up to the deepest fog I’d ever seen. Hoss was still sleeping so I was very quiet getting out of the wagon. Jumping the last foot to the ground, I looked around in the heavy mist. I couldn’t see from one end of our wagon to the other. Even the usual morning sounds of the adults talking and banging pots were muffled. I found Pa finishing up breakfast, and he seemed a bit agitated. I helped Pa clean up and ate some day-old bread while I waited for Bobby, like usual, but she never came. Anxious to see her, I finally went searching for her, carefully checking each wagon, but there were only two wagons. Panic built inside me as I couldn’t find her wagon. She was my best and only friend; where was she?
I ran back to our wagon where Pa was checking the horses. “Pa, where’s Bobby? I can’t find her anywhere!” I squinted through the shifting fog again willing her to appear.
Pa’s large hand rested gently on my skinny shoulder as he turned me to face him. What did I see in his eyes? Sorrow, empathy…fear? “Son, Bobby’s gone. The McGees left before dawn. They decided to turn back.”
I broke from my Pa’s comforting grip and ran to the end of the wagons and beyond, searching for hers once more, for her golden red hair and smiling freckled face. They were all gone, sucked away in the swirling fog. I gasped for air from the panic, the running, and the tears.
“NO! Bobby, please come back, please…!”
Pa had followed me and I felt his strong arms draw me into a warm, safe hug against his broad chest. I kicked to be free, to go find Bobby, but finally I collapsed into Pa’s reassuring grip. He carried me back to our wagon and put me on the seat. A few moments later he placed Hoss beside me then climbed up and gathered the reins. He gave Hoss some bread and offered me some jerky but I had no desire to eat.
After several miles, I found I had nothing left in me. I was empty. Timidly I glanced at Pa. He must have sensed how I was feeling for he gently smiled and put his arm around me.
“I know it will be hard to let her go. Keep the memories close, son. They’ll be what makes the days brighter and the years warmer. A first best friend, like a first love, is very special and never forgotten.”
An eagle cried out as a chipmunk scurried under a bush. Opening my eyes visions of tall grasses morphed into a sparkling lake. The sun was sliding toward the granite peaks that were sentinels around my home. My family would be waiting dinner.
Taking a final deep breath of the pine-filled air, I felt a peace inside once again. Those times, all those years ago, were the best for me and Bobby. Warm memories now filled my mind and eased my aching heart, but as I rode home I couldn’t help but wonder why they came back each year.
“Adam, what are you doing?”
My father stood in the doorway of my room watching me pack my saddle bags. On my ride home I began to wonder what Bobby was doing now, where she lived. This was the first time I had actually let my thoughts stray beyond that time when I was eight years old, and this time I needed some answers. After dinner I excused myself to prepare for my journey. No big surprise that Pa followed me upstairs.
“I can see that. Where are you going? We don’t have any business trips planned.”
I paused while folding a shirt, then turned to see my father’s face full of concern. Taking a deep breath, I invited him to sit so I could explain.
“I’m going on a journey, to find Bobby.”
It took a few moments for Pa to register the magnitude of that plan. “Adam, son, it’s been twenty-five years. She could be anywhere…in the world. Why now? What’s changed?”
I slumped down onto my bed and rubbed my neck. “I don’t really know. Something inside me just says to go find her. And yes, I’ve thought about how difficult that will be. Look, I don’t plan to travel the world. I’m going to start a bit closer to home.”
“Oh?” I could tell Pa was still skeptical but seemed relieved that I might not stray too far. “What do you have in mind?”
“Well, you’ve told me that we were leaving Oregon at the time and heading toward the Sierras, right?”
A nod of his silver head showed he knew where I was planning to go. “We had left the Willamette Valley along with the McGees, and two other families. We had the Sierras in site when Kelly, um, Mister McGee, decided to turn back. He had always been concerned about crossing the mountains as they had struggled so much with the Rocky Mountains. He and his wife said they preferred to return to the Valley and establish a farm there.”
My head snapped up. Over the years Pa told me bits and pieces of that time but never that he knew the McGees had been talking about going back. “I thought you said you didn’t know it was coming. That you didn’t know they were going to leave the group.”
“Son, I didn’t. I felt that I had convinced them to stay with us as the journey back would be harder since they would be facing it alone. Kelly acknowledged that truth, but….” Pa shrugged his shoulders. “I guess that was why they left so early. He didn’t want another confrontation. He’d made up his mind and that was that. I’m sorry Adam, I really was just as surprised, and even a bit hurt, to find them gone. He was a good friend to me.”
I sat there trying to absorb all Pa had said, and to reconcile it with what I wanted to do. All of a sudden I needed to move so I went back to packing. My mind was made up. I needed to go and find Bobby.
As I stuffed a pair of pants into a different bag, I felt Pa’s hand rest on my shoulder. I turned to see his accepting smile.
“I don’t suppose you’d want some company?”
I returned to my packing, using that as an excuse to hide my smile. Pa always did seem to know when I needed him the most.
Entering the southern end of the Willamette Valley*, I reined my horse to a stop. Pa stopped beside me as we took in the breathtaking beauty spreading out before us. The lush patchwork fields, green with wild grasses and new sprouts of wheat, filled the view. Across the valley floor meandered the Willamette river, and framing the scene were the rolling hills of Oregon’s two mountain ranges. Nudging our horses forward, heading closer to the first town, we began to see farmhouses dotted around the area.
“It’s changed a lot since the last time we were here. It’s good to see so many farms and towns now.”
“What was here, Pa, when we came through?”
“Not much. We came into the settlement which was mostly a trading center for fur trappers but also filled with missionaries. There were a few small buildings as I recall. Having seen the beauty of the valley when we first arrived, I recall some of the folks in our group likened it to Eden, and elected to stay.”
“I can see why. I haven’t seen anything this beautiful on any of my trips.”
As we rode through the valley, sporadic memories came back, ones of green fields, wildflowers, and crystal clear waters. I could finally reconcile them with what we’d ridden through on our journey here.
However, by afternoon, as we approached Oregon City we noticed a lot of destruction. It was obvious that at some point, maybe one to two years ago, there had been a great flood. We passed a few mills in use and others being rebuilt. Churches, businesses, and homes were also affected. We could see the town had survived and was rebuilding as quickly as it could. As I looked at the condition of the town I suddenly found myself hoping Bobby was safe. Funny to have that thought since I had no idea if she even lived in the area.
Despite the damage we saw, finding a place to sleep for the night was fairly easy. After caring for our horses and getting a little rest in our room, Pa and I went in search of dinner, and to make an attempt at beginning our search for the McGee family. Surely we could find someone who’d been in the area since it was founded, all those years ago.
Our first couple of days in Oregon City were unproductive to say the least, as far as our search for Bobby went. However, we did learn about the Great Flood* that happened from December of 1861 into early 1862. The Sheriff told us that it was more devastating further north, affecting Portland and many towns beyond.
“This flood was so much worse as there’d been heavy snows that winter and the rains came too early, melting the snowpack. The flooding was horrible, even wiping out a few towns, but everyone here knows it could have been much worse. Thankfully the loss of life was low compared to the damage and loss of buildings and farms. The people will rebuild and be stronger for it in the end. They know it’s part of living in the Valley.”
His final comments told me these were a hardy group of people who chose to make their livelihood in this piece of Eden on Earth. He and Pa shook hands before we headed back to our room. As we walked I found I agreed with the Sheriff’s assessment.
“You know Pa, I guess we’re kind of like that too. With all that our family’s been through, we’ve picked up and gone on. And we’re stronger for it, thanks to your determination and guidance.”
Out of the corner of my eye I noticed Pa’s eyes crinkle at my compliment, but was that a smirk I saw? He put his arm around my shoulders as he looked straight ahead. “Well, at least you didn’t use the word ‘stubbornness’.”
I couldn’t help but chuckle the rest of the way to our room. Although that ‘stubbornness’ has seen each one of us through plenty of close calls in our lives, it’s also caused many problems within our family.
The next morning, at breakfast, Pa and I were discussing whether or not to head to Portland when a man came up to us, spinning his floppy hat nervously in his hands. He was dressed in mismatched but clean clothes, and had the look of one who’d seen some hard times in his life.
“Mister, I hear tell you’re looking for a family from long ago. A Pa an’ Ma, an’ little girl with red hair?”
My coffee cup stopped in midair. He had my full attention. Pa put down his fork and asked the man to join us.
“My name’s Tommy Butler. I’ve been in this area for nearly ten years. I used to work a farm a ways outta town but since the flood I been workin’ at the flour mill down the street.” He accepted a cup of coffee the waitress brought but waved off any food. “I don’t know ‘bout the family but there’s a lady with hair as bright as the autumn leaves working at one o’ the mission schools. I seen her about town from time to time too. Some folks say she’s been livin’ here for a good while, though she keeps to herself.” He stood and nodded his thanks for the coffee. “I got’s to get to work. I hope that helps.” Mister Butler slipped his hat on and disappeared out the door.
Pa and I shared looks, quickly finished breakfast, and inquired about the location of the mission school when we paid for the meal.
The directions we received were vague but half an hour later we found a church with a second building behind it. As we approached, I heard the sound of children playing near the woods. Suddenly I couldn’t move any further. Pa turned back and I could see he immediately understood my hesitancy.
“Adam, how would you like to proceed? I could go ahead and see if I could speak to her.”
Before I could get my answer sorted out, the church minister approached us. He was an older man with kind brown eyes, and reminded me a bit of Paul Martin.
“Good morning gentlemen. I’m Reverend Peter Turner. May I be of any assistance?”
Aware of my nervousness Pa spoke up. “I’m Ben Cartwright, and this is my son Adam. We’re from Nevada but we’ve come here looking for an old friend. Would you perhaps know of the McGee family, Kelly, Meg and Bobby? They were here about twenty-five years ago when we came through, and we lost touch with them shortly after.”
As Pa talked I watched the reverend’s face for any sign that he knew them. His features were friendly and welcoming but I could tell he didn’t recognize the names.
“I’m sorry, I have only been here for about five years. And I’m afraid I don’t know anyone by those names.”
My heart sank, but I was not ready to give up.
“We were told a lady who has very red hair teaches school here. The girl I knew, Bobby, also had bright red hair. Would it be alright if we spoke to this lady for a few minutes?” It was a struggle to keep the desperation I felt out of my voice.
“I’m sure Bertie wouldn’t mind. I don’t believe she’s rung the school bell yet. Follow me and I’ll introduce you to her.”
We followed Reverend Turner to the back of the church and my heart began to race making breathing difficult. Taking a deep breath helped as I caught sight of her sitting in a wheelchair on the porch; her back was to us as she watched the children. A subtle brush of Pa’s arm against mine gave me the strength to face this head on.
“Excuse me, Bertie. Gentlemen, this is Bertie O’Brien. Bertie, these gentlemen are visitors to our town, and are looking for a family who came through here long ago. The family’s name was McGee.”
Nothing else needed to be said. When Miss O’Brien swiveled her wheelchair around at the reverend’s words she and I locked eyes, and we knew. Two childhood friends had found each other at last.
“Adam?” She could barely get my name out before tears rolled down her ivory cheeks. I stepped onto the porch and squatted down beside her, taking both of her trembling hands in mine.
“Yes, Bobby, it’s me.” I slipped off my hat and we rested our foreheads together as she fought to control her emotions.
Thank goodness for the reverend’s quick thinking. “Bertie, I will ask Emily to take your class today. Would you and these gentlemen like to use my office to talk?”
Bobby patted at her eyes with a small handkerchief. “Yes, thank you Peter.”
Pa stepped closer. “That’s very kind of you, Reverend. Adam?”
I ran my hand down my face before standing and returning to Pa’s side.
The reverend indicated the church behind us. “Gentlemen, would you wait in the sanctuary? Bertie and I will join you shortly, as soon as the students are settled.”
“Of course.” Pa nudged me around and toward the little white church. Inside I dropped down onto a pew, just then realizing how much I was shaking. Pa drifted toward the stained glass windows, giving me privacy and time to calm down. We both needed time to let it sink in that we had actually found my long lost friend.
A short while later Pa, Bobby and I were alone in the reverend’s office, with coffee and sweet bread to enjoy, but none of us had any desire to partake. The silence was awkward at first until Pa chose the place to start.
“Bobby, would you like to begin with when your father turned the wagon around and headed back to Oregon?”
Pulling her eyes from me she glanced at Pa, then began to fill in the last twenty-five years.
“The movement of the wagon woke me from a deep sleep. By the time I was fully awake I realized we were no longer with the other families. Papa said we needed to head back to Oregon since Mama was feeling worse. It took us several days before we found a settlement. It was there that I found out Mama was with child, only she lost the baby and we lost her.”
Bobby’s eyes misted over at the memory, and I reached for her hand in a feeble attempt to comfort her. She gave me a gentle smile then continued.
“We buried her there and moved on. When we made it back to the larger settlement Papa found work cutting timber. Sometimes he had to go off and work so I stayed with some missionaries.” She noted our concern. “It wasn’t as bad as it sounds. They were good to me and taught me many things. I was with Papa most of the time. He only had to work a few times out of the year. As the years passed, the settlement became a town and the businesses grew due to the access to the river. Papa became a shop owner and we had a good life together.”
Pa took that moment to pass out the coffee and bread. Bobby’s eyes kept darting between me and Pa. “Did you find your dream, Mister Cartwright? I remember Adam talking about a place where the trees touched the sky.” Her eyes twinkled for the first time that morning.
“Yes, Bobby, we found it. We live near Virginia City in Nevada, on the edge of Lake Tahoe. We have a cattle ranch there.”
“And lots of trees that touch the sky.” I added, causing her to giggle.
“I’m glad for both of you, or all three of you. You had a baby brother didn’t you?”
“Yes, Hoss. He’s now taller than me and a lot bigger. And there’s our youngest brother, Joe. It’s all four of us now on the ranch.”
“It sounds like you have a wonderful family.” She dropped her head as her smile faded.
I reached for her hand once more. “Bobby, what happened?” My eyes indicated the wheelchair.
“About six years ago, Papa died, his heart gave out, and I found myself alone. I took over the store and a month later I met a man by the name of John O’Brien. He worked on one of the riverboats. We fell in love quickly and married as soon as the church allowed it. He was a good man and his love brought some happiness back into my life.” Bobby stared at me before continuing. “When I realized I’d never see you again, Adam, I quit using the name Bobby. I went back to Roberta. That’s how John knew me and he began to call me Bertie. I rather liked it, so most of our friends called me that too.”
Bobby took a shuddering breath and continued. “I suppose you’ve heard about the big flood? It caught everyone off guard. John got me to safety with Reverend Turner and his wife, then he took his boat out to rescue anyone else that he could. He never came back. I was told later that his boat was struck by a house floating down river and it capsized. When I heard the news, I ran to the river. It was miles wide and debris could be seen everywhere. I was out of my mind with grief and fear. I threw myself into the waters, trying to swim. I was convinced I could find John and save him. Something hard struck me across my back and I went under. When I awoke, the doctors told me I was paralyzed. If it hadn’t been for Peter and Emily, I think I would have died right then and there. They took me in and helped me get more medical help, but the final answer was always the same – I would never walk again. So I accepted it, and eventually became the teacher of our little mission school. It was another way of healing for me, helping the children adjust while their parents worked to rebuild the town.”
Pa rose from his chair and touched Bobby’s arm. “I am sorry for your losses my dear. If there’s anything we can do to help you or the children, please let us know. I’ll leave you and Adam to talk for a bit.” He rested his hand on my shoulder. “I’ll be outside if you need me.”
The silence after Pa left was different from when we first arrived. Now I felt more comfortable but my heart ached for all Bobby had gone through. I know it made her uncomfortable but I just couldn’t take my eyes off her. As if reading my mind, she squeezed my hand and giggled a little. “I promise I’m real and I won’t disappear if you look away.”
That made me grin as I reached to pour more coffee.
“I remember that sweet smile and how it would brighten your hazel eyes but I don’t recall those dimples. It’s so good to see your smile again, Adam. I’ve missed you dreadfully. While I was miserable that Papa turned back, I felt horrible that I didn’t get a chance to tell you goodbye. For the longest time I feared you blamed me for leaving like that.”
“No. No Bobby. I never blamed you for any of it. I was devastated too. It was Pa who helped me handle it, but it was hard not having a chance to say goodbye.” A chuckle escaped. “You know, every Spring, I’d get this longing to see you and all the memories of that Spring would come flooding back. This time I felt the need to search for you. I can’t explain it but I just had to find you.”
Her hand brushed my cheek, and her gray-blue eyes lit up. “I’m glad you did, Adam. In truth, you’ve been on my mind these past few weeks as well. Tell me more about your ranch and your brothers and don’t leave anything out.” Bobby leaned back into her chair, resting her hands in her lap of her brown skirt as if waiting for the best storytelling ever.
The expectant look on her face brought a new joy to my heart. This was my Bobby and I was going to do everything I could not to lose her ever again.
A month later, I sat on the bank of the Willamette River as Bobby rested against a Willow tree. In a matter of days after that first meeting we had returned to the way we were when we were children. I took her on carriage rides so she could show me everything about her hometown. I met her students and even helped with teaching them, when she asked me to share about my journey West and about the Ponderosa. Pa and I also became involved in helping the town rebuild, sharing our knowledge of timber and building as well as assisting with some of the costs.
Now, as fluffy white clouds drifted overhead and the river rolled lazily by, Bobby and I sat in silence. It was not an uncomfortable silence but one of peace and contentment.
“I’ll miss you Adam. This last month has made me feel like we never parted all those years ago.”
I chuckled and leaned back on my elbows. “I feel the same. And that’s how I felt when we first met. Do you remember?”
“Oh yes. Like we’d been friends forever.”
There was that peaceful silence again.
“I can’t wait until I can see your lovely Ponderosa. It’s going to be quite an adventure for me. I’m glad the Turners are traveling with me. Their companionship will make it more pleasant.”
“You’ve got your tickets for the riverboat and the steamer, and I’ll meet you in San Francisco. June can’t get here fast enough.”
For the rest of the day, Bobby and I spent the time near the river then in town with Pa and the Turners, finalizing the plans for their trip to California and Nevada.
The next morning, Pa and I said our farewells to Bobby, Peter and Emily. Nudging our horses forward we followed the wandering river for quite a ways before Pa intervened in my silence.
“It’s only a couple of months you know. Think you’ll make it that long?”
“Yeah, Pa.” A corner of my mouth twitched upward. “I’ll be fine.” I shifted in my saddle and looked around at our surroundings. “This really is a beautiful place. We may have our Heaven on Earth, Pa, but Bobby’s got her Eden.”
Pa followed my gaze over the vast green valley. “That she has, son, that she has.”
Guiding our horses away from the river Pa and I headed home, content to let our horses meander southward through the grassy fields. After twenty-five years I was finally at peace. Now whenever I think back to that time in my young life, I can’t help but smile at the joy we shared, and still share; just me and Bobby McGee.
The evening August sun casts light and shadows across my journal as I attempt to record my thoughts of this past summer. Leaning back in my chair to glance out the window, I’m once more captivated by the fiery colors of the sunset as they fade to indigo and black, and seeing the first star appear just above the granite peaks. As the darkness rolls in, my journal calls to me to finish my musings. Turning up the flame in the lamp, I put pen to paper and let my memories flow.
San Francisco is almost like a second home to me considering all the business trips I’ve made to the city. However, my trip last June was not one of those; it was purely for pleasure. It had been two months in the planning and I was still as nervous as the first time when I went in search of Bobby.
Seeing Bobby, and her two friends and traveling companions, Peter and Emily Turner, come down the gangway of the steam ship, filled me with joy. I still can’t believe I was able to locate her after all these years. Her smile when first she recognized me in Oregon made it all worth it. Now that bright smile excited me once more as I bent to hug her before greeting the Turners.
Those days in San Francisco were some of the best I had ever had. Bobby and I had plenty of time to get reacquainted, and I enjoyed showing her and the Turners around the city. It did my heart good to see how she had become part of their family, and to know she had someone to look after her.
We found time to talk more about her injury, and she even consented to meet with a couple of doctors that Paul Martin recommended. However, after all the testing, which Bobby patiently endured, the answers I was looking for didn’t come. She would never walk again. Bobby could see the disappointment on my face but after we talked, I understood that she had fully accepted her situation. She reminded me that she had a job she loved, good friends, and the Turners who were her family now. Oh my dear Bobby, she was always the one to see the good in everything, and even helped me to see it too.
Well, with nothing more to say about her condition we agreed it was high time for her to see the Ponderosa. I was concerned that an overland stage trip would be too difficult a trip for Bobby, so I purchased a large carriage and team, and we followed the stagecoach route to Virginia City. When we neared home it was too late in the day to continue on to the Ponderosa so we headed to town. I discovered that Pa had made arrangements for us to stay overnight at the Internationale so we all could rest. The next morning he, Joe and Hoss arrived to welcome us and escort our guests to the ranch. Pa also confided that they had been booted out by Hop Sing so he could get everything ready to welcome our special guests, and what a welcome it was.
When we rode into the yard, we were greeted with lanterns hanging everywhere, and a banner welcoming Bobby, Peter and Emily. Upon entering the house, our senses were filled with delectable smells wafting from the kitchen. After Hop Sing greeted everyone, he suggested that our guests have a time of rest and then join the family by the fireplace before lunch. Bobby was given the guest room downstairs and was pleased to have time to change and rest.
I know we all have said this many times, but I truly believe Hop Sing had out done himself this time. Not only was the first meal beyond special, but so was every meal since. After the first week, when I had a few moments alone with our venerable friend, he confided in me that he was most happy that I had found a lost friend, and that it was his pleasure to celebrate that reunion with special food. I left the kitchen with a warmth for that little man whose heart seemed bigger than Hoss’.
As the summer drew to a close, it was time for Bobby and the Turners to head back to Oregon. Their school would begin in September and Bobby had much planning to do to be ready for the students. Although we had a final cattle drive approaching, Pa willingly let me off the hook so I could escort our friends back to San Francisco to catch their steamship home. It was a hard farewell but it wasn’t final. As soon as the ranch is prepared for winter, my brothers and I will be heading up to Oregon in early November, with as many supplies we can ship in order to help the town in their efforts to rebuild. I’ll be staying through January to spend Christmas with Bobby, but Joe and Hoss will return home to spend Christmas with Pa.
Looking back over my writing, and reflecting with a contented sigh on the last few months, I find I have no regrets saying good-bye to Bobby. I know I’ll see her again and again since we have agreed to spend our winters and summers together. And perhaps at some point, it will be more than just a few months for each visit, perhaps it will be a lifetime. Who truly knows what the future will hold for me and my Bobby McGee.
A/N – Oregon Country (which comprised what is now the modern-day states of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, as well as portions of Montana and Wyoming) was jointly held by America and Britain from 1818 until 1846. The Oregon Trail ended at the Willamette Valley and a fur trade settlement that would become Oregon City. Oregon became a state in 1859.
Willamette Valley – American missionaries arrived in the Willamette Valley in the 1830’s, followed by a tide of white immigrants in the 1840’s, most of them from the Mississippi Valley. The new settlers first established Oregon City, followed by Portland downriver, and upriver valley communities at strategic vantage points such as Salem, Albany, and Eugene (the river flows north). Beyond those settlements, immigrants traveling to Oregon took out land claims in the Willamette and tributary valleys, where western Oregon’s humid climate created an ideal environment for wheat and other grain crops. Oregon City, at Willamette Falls, was the valley’s first marketing and processing point for upriver farms and forests.
The 1861 Historical flood wiped out farms and burgeoning towns. Portland and Oregon City survived.
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