Odyssey 2016: Pony Express National Historic Trail (PENHT)

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Pony Express NHT MapThe Pony Express Trail–a fading, rutted 1900-mile track that’s slowly disappearing into the shadows (and annals) of American history. It began in St. Joseph, Missouri, from there to join and generally follow the then-existing Oregon/California Trail to Fort Bridger, Wyoming. From Fort Bridger outpost it turned to follow the Mormon Pioneer Trail (the Hastings Cutoff) to Salt Lake City, Utah. From the Mormon community in Salt Lake City it continued across that high plains desert no-man’s-land that stretches over 500 miles from Salt Lake City to Carson City, Nevada. That trail segment (and this year’s odyssey for Nimblewill and Bart) was known as the Central Overland Route. From Carson City it crossed the Sierra Nevada down and  into Sacramento, California. 

This segmented trail was created to facilitate the delivery of mail to the burgeoning (and isolated) far West. The remarkable relay-ride by horseback took only 10 days, unprecedented for the time! Relays were divided into segments of 75 to 100 miles in length over which a lone rider would race, changing horses at established stations every 15 miles or so. The rider would then hand off the mochila (a waterproof saddlebag containing the mail) to the next (fresh and rested) rider. He then awaited the rider coming from the other direction, to race that mail pouch back to his home station, and from there, to begin the process all over again.4942733-gifc200

The “Pony” was designated a National Historic Trail through the National Trails System Act of 2009 (amended), and is administered by the Secretary of Interior, the NPS, BLM, and is now marked and maintained to immortalize that incredible journey daily undertaken and suffered by dozens of brave, young (pony) riders. And, although it was in operation only 19 months (April 1860 to November 1861 — the transcontinental telegraph spelled its demise) to this day does the romance and folklore of it remain a legendary chapter in American history.

















Off Like the Wind

Odyssey 2015: Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail (MPNHT)

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logo-mormontrailThe Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail was established in 1978 through an act of congress, and is considered one of our premier Emigrant/Overland Trails. It begins in Nauvoo, Illinois, and for some 1300 miles west, it passes through Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, then into Utah, to end on the western slope of the Wasatch Range in the Great Basin at “This is the Place,” Salt Lake City.

From the 1840s through the 1860s, 70,000 men, women, and children endured the hardships of the Mormon Trail. For them, it proved a journey of toil and sacrifice, of triumph and tragedy, and for many (still unknown to this day)–death. In our minds, the Mormon Trail elicits an incredibly fascinating image of glory and mystique. Indeed, there now exists a special mythology surrounding the Mormon Pioneers.

In 2014, as Nimblewill trekked the Oregon Trail, he picked up the Mormon Trail, where it joins the Great Platte River Road near Fort Kearny, Nebraska. From there, he followed the loosely combined tracks of the Oregon, California, Pony Express–and the Mormon Trail[s] to Fort Bridger, Wyoming.

This summer, as Nimblewill trekked the westernmost remainder of the Mormon Trail, from Fort Bridger to Salt Lake City, he enjoyed the company of his dear friend and fellow intrepid, Bart Smith.

Confusing? Sure! Because, and as circumstance would have it, Nimblewill‘s journey o’er the Mormon Trail is a puzzle, pieced together as separate segments, from different times. And so, to finish his Mormon Trail Odyssey, he started at Nauvoo, Illinois, from there to close the final gap–to Fort Kearny, Nebraska. Ah, and as always, he’d certainly enjoy your company; won’t you come along!


The Art of Clark Kelley Price

The realities of life on the Mormon Pioneer Trail have been wonderfully depicted by the artwork of Clark Kelley Price. We wish to thank him for his kind permission and are very proud to display six examples of this work below. The artist was born in Idaho Falls, Idaho in 1945. Now living in Star Valley, Wyoming, he has painted full time since 1973. The subject matter of his work ranges from religious to old west. The spiritual impact of his religious paintings makes his work outstanding. As an example, he is a direct descendant of members of the Martin Handcart company and has profound personal feelings for their hardships. His depiction of such pioneer experiences as burying the dead in icy shallow graves and of having angels assist during time of trial deeply impacts those who view his artwork. To read more about the artist and view more of his work, please be sure to visit theGallery of Kelley Clark Price.

Although we have permission to display these examples, all artwork is property of the artist and appears in his online Gallery with copyright 2012.


Odyssey 2015: California National Historic Trail (CNHT)

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map-californiatrail-largeFrom Sea to Shining Sea, from Atlantic to Pacific; undoubtedly, America would not exist as the nation we know today had it not been for the indomitable courage and will of our emigrant pioneers–those brave souls who toiled (and died) plying the Oregon and California Trails. They went west in the l840s and ‘50s in countless thousands; they settled the west. And in so doing, Manifest Destiny, man’s last best hope, became reality–these blessed United States of America.

“Born a hundred years too late.” Ah yes, a common lament we’ve all heard from family and friends. But how about 150 or 200!

Comes now the old Nimblewill Nomad.  Had he been around 200 years ago, he’d most certainly have become a member of the Corps of Discovery. Did his best though, considering how time works. In 2004, lagging a bit behind, (yet 200 years to the day), Nimblewill began his outbound journey with Lewis and Clark. And in 2006, again 200 years to the day (and exact hour), the old Nomad commenced his return.

150 or so years ago? Well, Nimblewill no doubt would have joined that legion of restless souls, those pioneers that journeyed ever west o’er the Oregon Trail. Ah, but last year, lagging behind again just the least, he followed in their footsteps, in their shadow.

So now, for Odyssey 2015, to return again to that eventful time in American History, Nimblewill Nomad will journey west once more, with the pioneers–o’er the California Trail.

On this journey, Nimblewill will have company, real-time company–another misplaced soul (misplaced in time), a hiker trash friend, Bart Smith. Since they’ve both trekked the Oregon Trail (which follows the same track as the California Trail to Parting of the Ways, Raft River, Idaho), they’ll return once more to Parting of the Ways, from there to continue their respective journeys, this time along the California Trail–to Sutter’s Fort, Sacramento.

california_historic_trail_auto_tour_road_markerOdyssey 2015 began on May 28th. This trek, across Idaho, Utah, Nevada, and California, will no doubt prove adventuresome, packed full with the spirit of both past and present. So, why not join Nimblewill and Bart as they journey back in time, to complete their respective treks o’er the California National Historic Trail!

2014-nn-businesscard-imageNimblewill Nomad with his great, great grandfather (lad in the wagon)
On the California Trail


I yearn for the days of the dust-blown haze,
When the West was an infant child.
When the brave, the few, joined lots and threw
Their cares to the wind and the wild.

Through bone-weary pain, through mud and rain,
They traveled, a-trustin’ God.
As dear-loved kin and many a friend
Were set to rest in the sod.

“On to Californ’”, “On to Oregon,”
Through ruts worn weary and long.
‘cross rivers deep, scant rest or sleep,
Passed this destined, fateful throng.

On mules, in prairie schooners;
On buckboards ‘n walkin’ tall;
Through Indian lands, their fate in the hands
Of the wagonmaster’s call.

Through prairie grass, up mountain pass,
They journed toward the Promised Land.
‘n along the way, set adrift, they lay
Their past in the shifting sand.

No turning back, thru rut and track,
The wagon trains moved on,
Toward the western sky, with dream-filled eye,
On the trail to a brand new dawn.

Yet to this day, do the brave there stay!
Born new from the pioneer age.
A dream fulfilled, as God had willed,
Past the land of the purple sage.

And oh what I’d give to have journed…’n lived
On that trail with those brave and strong.
Now history, times wild and free,
For those days do I yearn and long.


Those were the days, e’er time-dimmed haze,
When the West was an infant child.
When the brave, the few, joined lots and threw
Their cares to the wind and the wild.

[N. Nomad]



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