“It were a good adventure,”
He said as he sat,
Then he straightened the snakeskin,
That banded his hat.
He guzzled a jar of whiskey,
But spilled some on his coat.
His manner was sure,
Though he drank like a goat.
The outside was gray,
And the tavern was cold.
Except near the stove,
Where the story was told.
There was a moment of silence,
As he stared into the gloom.
Then, he started the story,
His words filling the room.
“These days, most of us is livin’ here in Kentucky.
We knowed each other from Big Bone Lick,
Where we wandered and hunted by day,
Then come here in the evenin’,
To drink and have a say.
We weren’t none of us borned here.
We ain’t the settling down type.
But’d just ended up here in the East Bend,
After decidin’ our days of roamin’
Might finally’a seen their end.
After years a trappin’ Beaver,
Livin’ rough, and scoutin’ new.
We’d done trapped out the Bone Lick,
So, the coop we thought to flew.
So, we decided to spend our days what’s left
Roamin’ wild with those we knowed.
To head out west and to a place
Where none of us had ever goed.
And since we was so inclined, that’s what we did.
It were true we had our beaver dreams,
And thoughts of riches colored gold.
But it were mostly cause we wanted free,
And to forget that we was old.
They was 20 of us,
Trappers and hunters all.
Some was Indeans, some was Frenchmen,
Some was short, and others tall.
Some was black, some was white,
Some was big, and others small.
But all was hardened by the land,
And I did trust ‘em, one and all.
So, we cross’t the river at Rabbit Hash, and the journey then commenced.
It were the fall of 1821,
When we struck out on our own.
Headin’ west toward old Santa Fe,
Crossin’ country still unknown.
They was times we rode our horses,
On beaten trails of dirt and rock.
But they was times we walked for miles afoot.
And got too tired to talk.
We follered cricks and rivers,
The Verdigris, the Arkansaw, and others with no name.
And after weeks of hills and meadows,
To the mountains we done came.
Our days was filt with movin’,
Huntin’ game, and lookin’ west.
Then we stopped beneath the Spanish Peaks,
To set a camp and rest.
I’d never seen such.
We’d heard tales of lotsa mountains,
Full of beaver, elk, and deer.
Way out yonder ‘crosst the prairie,
Many miles away from here.
From far away the mountains seemed
To be a wall of rock and ice.
But once up close we was pleased to see.
It were country mighty nice.
They was glades and hollers
Cricks, and trees.
Elk and bear,
And lotsa honey bees.
Eventially, we cross’t the mountains
And come to Taos then Sante Fe.
Up to then, they wasn’t many folks,
As we moved along our way.
Except we run’t acrosst some Spaniards
Traded with Ietans, Cheyennes, and Arapahos.
Was guarded by the Kioways,
And had to worry with some Crows.
They was a fandango for us in Santa Fe,
We drank our fill and had a feast.
Then we turned around and headed back
To all awaitin’ in the east.
We headed back with a good bit of meat,
Not many pelts, but lots of tales.
Of scary faces, unfound places,
And all manner of travails.
After 18 months of livin’ wild,
We cross’t the river and was home.
Brim full of life, despite the strife,
And with no more mind to roam.
Yessir, it were a good adventure.”
The story finished, he sat back in his chair,
And silence filled the room.
He took a deep breath, then let out a laugh,
As sunshine broke the gloom.