Musings, Travel Plans

Throwing Antiques from Covered Wagons…

October 27, 2011

…and other lessons in abandoning material possessions to reach the trail’s end.

You’ve heard the stories (and perhaps played the computer game?): Wild-minded risk-takers threw caution to the wind, kissed their hometowns goodbye, buttoned up canvas awnings, and wobbled their wagon frames across the plains and prairies and mountain passes of rugged North America.

They’d heard of the Willamette Valley. A land of fertile soils and ripe possibilities. A new way of life for those who dared risk it all to reach the goal.

It’s true.

Oregon sang a siren’s song, and the adventurous were drawn to come.

What happened to the possessions unable to be jammed into tight corners of the settlers’ prairie schooners? Who gave them a new home? The in-laws? Dear friends? Neighbors remaining on the east coast?

How many valued pieces of sentiment and function remained in Missouri, I wonder? How many more soared over the side of wagons, perhaps accompanied by tears and sweat?

How did their meaning shift from top-priority-packables in a 4’x12′ bed to dead weight no longer carried by weary oxen?

I imagine a couple discussing the reasons for adding goods to the packing pile: “It’ll be useful for our new life at the end of the journey… We won’t be able to buy another one… It’ll be a reminder of our loved ones…”

But a thousand miles in, I imagine the conversation shifting to practicality in the face of survival. Health trumped comfort. Determination trumped desire. Reality trumped fantasy.

Now, a hundred and some odd years later, it’s our turn to grit our teeth, sort through artifacts of settled life, and part with all but the household basics and the dearly cherished. And I still suspect we’ll need to chuck a few more items over the edge when all is said and done…

If you find yourself in the area this weekend, come drink a celebratory mimosa and buy our stuff!

We’re clearing out our house before we pack up and leave to travel the world. Furniture, books, clothes, tools, odds and ends…everything* that doesn’t fit in a backpack!
(*not really everything. but sort of.)

Saturday, October 29th: 9am-noon

The Corner of East Burnside + 92nd Place:
9205 E. Burnside Street #201
Portland, OR 97216

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  • Reply Sue October 28, 2011 at 6:19 am

    Bethany, We played that Oregon Trail throw-away game once when we were studying Oregon history. I’ll always remember Philip’s choices to keep–he’d keep the rocking chair because they had a grandma with them and he’d keep the family keepsakes because it would make his wife happy :) Hope you get rid of all your stuff!

  • Reply RenegadePilgrim October 28, 2011 at 8:19 am

    If I was in town, I would stop by to meet ya’ll…unfortunately, I am in Spain at the moment. Perhaps when I return, we can meet for coffee to swap stories…I’ve been handing out Oregon “heart” buttons to people I’ve met along the way…stickers too. They love them!

  • Reply Jeremy Felt October 28, 2011 at 9:58 am

    Great perspective! And if we hadn’t just gotten rid of all our stuff to move into the fertile Willamette Valley, I’d be over there buying some of yours. Instead I’ll spread the word. :)

  • Reply Kim October 28, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    Good luck you guys!

  • Reply Valynne October 29, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    I will think of you every time I admire the beautiful tea cup and saucer I just had to have. Let me know if you need help with anything as your departure date nears – we got rid of the bulk of 4,000sf of “stuff” in 2009 so I know it can be quite the project. Here’s to traveling light! V

  • Reply Ryan Manion Roberson October 30, 2011 at 10:01 am

    Hi! I saw your sale listed in craigslist and now have been happily reading your blog! So inspiring – something I’ve always wanted to do. Now I find myself in the nesting/home building time of life. I’m working to build a “forever” home. I wasn’t able to make it to the sale yesterday but was interested in some of the stuff you listed for sale (like the Ikea stuff). Is there any of the stuff left? If so, will you have other times for selling? We live in South Tabor so I could run by anytime. Thanks! Ryan M-R

    • Reply twoOregonians November 1, 2011 at 7:30 am

      Ryan, thanks for finding us and our crazy story! The furniture went like hotcakes, I’m afraid… Would’ve loved to pass it on to a fellow Tabor resident :)

  • Reply Tawny from Captain and Clark October 31, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    Such a great idea. Any garage sale with mimosas HAS to be great. Good luck to the both of you. We look forward to following along on your journey. Who knows? We might even meet up on our RTW travels.

    • Reply twoOregonians November 1, 2011 at 7:29 am

      That would be fantastic! We’ll definitely keep tabs on your guys’ route… :)

  • Reply twoOregonians November 1, 2011 at 7:28 am

    Thank you, all! We’re so grateful to those of you who dropped encouraging notes and/or came out to our sale on Saturday. We had a great turnout. Price tags on sentiment are hard, so we were glad to see several favorite possessions go home with good friends. We kept enough to be able to return home and cook food, sleep on a mattress, dress up for job interviews, and read a few good books, so not to worry… Besides, people, not possessions, are what make our lives rich :)

    (Valynne – I’m so glad you ended up with the tea cup!)

  • Reply For 91 Days Travel Blog December 24, 2011 at 1:12 am

    Oh getting rid of all the things is so liberating!!! Doesn’t it feel so good. And even better not having bills to pay, contracts to pay attention to etc.

    Seeing these pictures makes me feel nostalgic!

    • Reply twoOregonians December 24, 2011 at 11:52 pm

      It’s been less than two months since those pictures were taken, and they already looks so foreign. It’s really an amazing feeling to be so free.

      Thanks for dropping by! Did I read on Twitter that you’re planning an upcoming stay in Sri Lanka? Can’t wait to see your photos. Take care, and safe travels.

  • Reply Notebooks and Scotch Tape, Now on the Blog - twoOregonians November 22, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    […] even after paring down to travel the world, I couldn’t bear to part with all of them…I still flip through the faded pages from […]

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