What happened when they left the Oregon Trail….

For the early American settlers and pioneers headed out west, leaving the known quantities of the Oregon Trail was considered risky business which no family with a shred of good sense would consider….

No family except, that is, for the Coryell family, who wandered off the Oregon Trail seeking greener camping pastures and charcoal paints for their all-night crafting jubilees.

It all started when the dysentery really got everyone down. Then Alina heard rumors of smallpox circulating at the next wagon stop. Signs pointed to splitting off from the main trail. She sat down to ponder the situation with the kids while Pioneer Patrick tended to the campfire.

Milla expressed her concerns about the smallpox killing babies. Then Micah sang, “pleeeeeaaase..” The success of the campfire made him feel rather generous-spirited and footloose, so Pioneer Patrick agreed with Alina’s “desire for greener pastures and charcoal paints”. For what is life without green pastures and charcoal paints?

Again, what on earth is life without green pastures, charcoal paints, and all the limitless possibilities in between?

Pioneer Patrick (also known as Premier Pattycakes for his excellent whole grain pattycakes) proclaimed to his family that they would separate from the group on the Oregon Trail and forge a new trail through the wilderness. Max howled with glee and Alina flashed him a smile sincere as a hot coal in a lap.

Proclamations by pioneers who make good pattycakes are portents of fine things to come.

But first, things quickly took a turn for the sombre. Realizing that they no longer had access to coloring books and the Friends of the Library Bookstore, Micah and Alina closed their eyes firmly and told themselves fashionable white lies.

Max suggested that the prevent starvation by seeking a scarce and under-hunted resource, namely, sweet, delicious candy. Premier Pattycakes thought this was a splendid idea. Then Alina looked at him like this.

Because she had to look at him in a way he could not mistake for wistful thoughts of dill pickles and begonia-covered tablecloths.

And then Premier Pattycakes offered to cook up some hot pattycakes over the fire.

Milla thought about the different textures of honey and maple syrup. Micah pretended that she was a little old lady with squinty eyes who couldn’t see while Max began speaking in a Hindu dialect.

Whatever path they would find and follow, the Coryells would figure out a way to make ends meet.The way would be a long and harrowing one, but all five family members knew how to dream of peaches and how to sing “99 bottles of beer on the wall”. The future was wide open.

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