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Farewell Bend

Regular readers know how much I dislike the perpetual and sad goodbyes that pretty much are the part of the rules of this lifestyle. Just the other evening I had to say goodbye to my grandkids for the second time in about a month. And the goodbye at Burning Man was particularly tough.

My ancestors-in-travel following the Oregon Trail crossed the Snake River here, a beautiful bend in the river suitable for easy fording. But from here, the trail split to points throughout the Oregon Territory, so families that had been traveling and working together for many months said their goodbyes as they headed for their final destination.

A “Goodbye” is not usually a final event. It means “so long, see you later”. At least that’s my meaning as I travel. We might be parting company for right now but we know we’ll see each other again, that it’s a temporary condition. And in the meantime I trust we’ll be safe.

To those on the trail, “Farewell” meant a permanent condition, friends parting knew they’d never see each other again, and knew that danger was assured. Farewell might just as well mean death to them.

So as I look over the river bend at the trail, I’m glad I only have to say goodbyes, and not farewells.

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