Somewhere Along The Oregon Trail

You awaken before dawn, before birds take up their songs, and lie for a while under a thin blanket, on the hard bare earth that is your bedroll, wondering what hardships you’ll face today.

Last evening’s campfire is a cold, gray smudge that will be erased by the morning breeze. There’s nothing to do but get up and walk, and as you begin, grateful for a hard biscuit and a piece of salty pork, you pick up a familiar rhythm, a cadence, with the horses pulling your family’s covered wagon westward toward your dreams.

Afternoons are like hot branding irons, unrelenting in their harshness, but you’ve become accustomed to them under a wide-brimmed hat and barely notice. Still, you keep an alert eye for rattlesnakes and remember to drink from the dark water barrel lashed to the wagon. Hours are marked by the arc of the sun, distance by days.

Last week, after a terrible thunderstorm turned the earth to red mud, a couple of families, broken by the weather and loneliness, turned back. You were homesick as you watched their canvas sails retreat across the endless grass sea and disappear below the horizon. And you kept walking.

Now, as shadows lengthen on another day, you’ve stumbled upon a bountiful campsite. A nearby stream promises clean, fresh water, game is plentiful, and after a quick vote it’s decided you’ll stay here for two nights. Everyone can use a day of rest, if not a bath.

But as you sit before a warm, crackling fire, surrounded by the voices of loved ones and the hush of the approaching night, a worrisome thought enters your mind. What if this place isn’t as perfect as it appears?

What if you can’t get Wi-Fi out here?

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