Daniel had never been to a Rendezvous! The Rendezvous is something I grew up with.
My uncle and aunt were participants and sometimes ran the Rendezvous, so it was a required family activity. My aunt has been Knife Woman (winner of knife throwing in Women’s division) several, times; which proves, it is self-preservation to not tick her off. My uncle tells tall tales to children about getting stuck in a bear stomach. He was only saved by his resistance to taking a bath more than once a year. Hence, this was an adventure I wanted to share with my dearest.
If you have never been to a Rendezvous, the word translates from french to ‘meeting place’. Which, sums up what it is. Mountain Men and Indians would hunt and trap all spring and part of the winter. Their pelts were a premium back east. Eastern merchants, Indians, locals, and mountain men would meet at either a Fort or a town to trade goods. These Rendezvous took place during the vogue of city-gentrified fur; between, 1824-1840.
A week before the Fort Bridger Rendezvous, we went to the Evanston, Wyoming Rendezvous. Evanston Rendezvous is much smaller than the Fort Bridger. Evanston is more family and children oriented as the activities are geared towards children. There are a fourth of the merchant tents but it is small, no entry fee, and it still has a good variety.
We found several handmade objects,
such as knives, clothing, and antiques/replicas from the time period. This convinced Dan that Fort Bridger would be worth the trip. We arrived before most tents were set up. I wandered around explaining to Dan the historical and family importance of the Fort to me.
When the tents, lodges, and tepees were open for business, we were not disappointed in the selection of goods. While we had hoped to buy a very rugged pair of moccasins for Dan (the lady I got mine from no longer travels), we ended up finding several homestead tools and ideas. There are looms, coffee grinders, butter churns, sewing equipment, and tools from blacksmithing to carpentry.
The Rendezvous era,
when you could go a year without seeing another human . . . until you sought civilization. Homesteaders and wilderness survivors had to be completely self-dependent. I love this age of toilet paper and medical advances; but, I highly, respect people of the earlier centuries, perseverance and self-reliance. While toilet paper will be included in my quest for self-sustainability, I do hope to take pages from early western settlers book of knowledge.
Other great finds and pictures can be found in our photos.