I'll time travel between eras this week, updating this column and my Facebook page (William J Watson) from the wilds of Tennessee where several dozen living historians attempt to recreate a small chunk of the past.
Take 12,000 acres of East Tennessee wilderness, ten or so vintage wagons drawn by horses, mules and oxen, add a company of Confederate infantry and an unknown number of Unionist guerillas, and you've got it. The goal is to move those wagons to Kirby Smith's army, preparing for an 1862 invasion of Kentucky.
I'd love to be with the wagons or the Unionists. My knees would not. Two days in, they'd become an issue that would have to be dealt with. Therefore I opted to volunteer for the support staff on this one.
While the wagons will carry almost everything the group needs for sustenance, there is not enough good water on the route. Therefore some of us will be intersecting the wagon train's path via 4WD trucks to leave what seems to be a daunting amount of water for man and beast.
With luck and skill the participants will leave all 21st Century manifestations behind; the area is remote enough that most cell phones won't get a signal.
Why go to the trouble to experience a week of hardship? We'll find out, but part of the answer (speaking from experience) is that these immersions in history show us that our ancestors weren't idiots, that given the technology and materials and knowledge of their times, they were capable of staying comfortable under circumstances that seem to us to be unbearable.
Off I go. Have HP notebook and a good digital camera, will travel. I'd say, "Wish you could be there," but maybe with photos and words I can put you there vicariously.