We are literally days away from our participation in the Great Florida Cattle Drive of 2016. Chuck and I have been preparing for this 1850s reenactment, where several of our state’s cattlemen will drive 500 head of Florida Cracker cattle over 50 miles.
We plan to walk the drive. You can read my first post about the adventure here. We have been planning this since October.
Training began right after Thanksgiving. The first week we walked a mile a day and increased it at least a mile each subsequent week. We are now walking eight miles a day, five to six days a week. That is about how far we think we will travel each day on the drive.
We’ve also been doing it in trail boots. No athletic shoes are allowed on the trip. Also, no bright colors, which means almost all athletic shoes would have been disqualified anyway. What is it with all the neon colors on adult athletic shoes?
We’re taking rain gear because there is forecast two possible days of rain. It can get quite cool on Florida’s prairie, so the rain jackets will also come in handy as windbreakers.
We expect daytime temperatures in the 60’s and 70s with nighttime in the 50s, with the exception of one evening when it will dip down into the 40s. We’re Floridians which means we’re thin skinned, so “brrrrrr”.
They asked us to wear either period clothing or western wear while on the drive. I am taking two long pioneer-style skirts and several white blouses. I also packed two pairs of jeans and a couple of flannel shirts in case it turns cool. It gets pretty windy on the prairies of interior south Florida. Most days, I will be dressing similar to the ladies in the photo below.
Everything we take including our tent, sleeping bags and clothes will have to fit into two duffles which can weigh no more than 60 pounds each. Our home office, where we’re packing, looks like a garage sale threw up in there. It ain’t pretty.
A few days ago while some of the grandkids, ages 3 to 9 were here, we pitched the new tent in the backyard. It was super easy compared to the old one.
We told them all about the cattle drive and what we would be doing. Our seven-year-old Lucas finally said, “Why?” Chuck replied, “Lucas, I keep asking myself the same question.” Chuck and I both laughed, but the kids looked confused.
One of the duffels is waterproof or at least we thought it was. I spent yesterday patching it. I have successfully patched my waders before, so I feel fairly confident I can patch this too. We’ll need this duffel for the rain forecasted days.
I’ve been thinking a lot about book’s characters, expecially Mary’s mother Elizabeth. Mary was about seven when they migrated along with a foundation herd of cattle from South Carolina to Florida in the late 1820s. Her mother was almost 30 and had had several children already.
I don’t think she was pregnant during the trip, because the next child was born about a year after they settled. She did have a baby less than a year old with her, whose birth was recorded in Colleton District, South Carolina in 1827, the same year they traveled.
Her children who traveled with her were all seven and under, three girls and two boys. Mary was her oldest.
I’ve tried to pattern my wardrobe after what I think Elizabeth may have worn. I imagine Mary had to grow up quickly in order to help her mother take care of the younger children.
Can you imagine having five young children and a husband to cook and care for while traveling over 400 miles? That was how far it was, if they used the only trail available to them at that time?
This trail or road went through the Augusta area, then the Macon area, and finally came down north of Tallahassee on the Old Hawthorne Trail through the Cairo, Georgia area. It is believed that they then took a road around the north end of Lake Miccosukee into Jefferson County. There were still Seminole Indians in North Florida, but it was peaceful at the time.
Look for updates from the Cattle Drive next week, but I have two possible problems, neither of which are Indians. One is having service, as I may not be able to receive an internet signal in this part of Florida. The other problem may be maintaining a charge. There is no electricity on the trail, but I have borrowed several portable chargers.
We leave on the trail Sunday, and we arrive at our destination the following Saturday with a “Frolic” planned at the trail’s end. I’ve invited all our kids to come and bring the grandchildren, as the Fiesta will be family friendly. I’m not sure, though, any will make the long trip down the state for the four-hour occasion.
Watch for my updates. I’ll do the best I can to keep you updated from the drive.