Bent’s Old Fort

In 1833, William and Charles Bent and Ceran St. Vrain, built the original fort on what was then the border of Mexico so they could trade with Plains Indians and trappers. For many years it was the only primarily white settlement on the Santa Fe trail between Missouri and Mexico. The fort was abandoned in 1849 because of disease and disasters. It was resurrected in 1976. The reconstruction was based on archaeological excavations, various drawings and diaries. Supposedly, the original plans for the fort were found in an attic in Germany, though I don’t know it that’s the truth or was merely an interesting story peddled to visitors.

My visiting friends and I went on an excursion to see the fort. I didn’t think it would be much of an adventure since the fort is a reconstruction and not the real thing, but once I stepped inside the gates, I was glad I went.

I felt as if I’d stepped back in time.

The whole place was as authentic as possible, with a general store

And stores

A blacksmith shop, with the huge bellows hanging from the ceiling on the upper right and attached to the adobe stove on the left

The maze of catwalks and ramps leading to the various sections on the second floor

The guard tower from the outside looking in

And the from the inside looking out

The resident peacock

and peahen.

In the summer, there are some encampments where the fort is filled with the various characters, such as the Bent brothers, as well as fur traders, the blacksmith, and the blood-letting doctor rather than the single character who entertained us. Should be fun!

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Forged in Fire

I do so love sampling new things, whether places, food, puzzles, people’s lives or . . . blacksmithing. Yep. You read that right! As fully equipped as you think your workshop is,

my brother-in-law has done you one better. His includes a forge, a leg vise and an anvil.

I spent a totally awesome day yesterday wearing a blacksmith apron and pounding hot metal!

Mostly I tried to make a couple of matching leaf shapes for a pair of earrings, which wasn’t very dramatic,

so to show the full effect of blacksmithing red hot metal, he let me pound on a bigger piece of iron.

Way cool! Well, cool in the sense of awesome. Not cool in the sense of the absence of heat. Working with forges, fire, heated metal, and heavy hammers is hot work.

People often have bucket lists, but how could I ever have such a list? The most wonderful things I have ever done, such as learning to dance or learning to blacksmith, would not have made it onto the list because I could never have imagined such treats.

The best part of the experience, of course, was the experience, but at the end of the day, I had a pair of earrings to show for it. Or rather, my sister has the earrings — I gave them to her for a hostess gift. The background leaf is the iron I pounded out and shaped. The dome top and the pepper dangle (added for color and because they are “red hot” chili peppers) are purchased beads.

Ah, sweet life. I can’t imagine anything better than getting to try new things.

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(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Unfinished, Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)