My First Rendezvous Weekend

For missing our first Valentine’s, we certainly made up for it in the weekend that followed. We didn’t plan to have an exciting weekend just because we missed Tuesday evening together, no, we are just the type to not sit still. At least for very long if we do. So Friday marked our second game night with his brother and his wife, my new in-laws, Saturday we spent the day together and with his friend Scott at a rendezvous, and Sunday was a nice morning of church followed by lunch and day dreaming about our closet finished by a nice walk and a homemade deep dish pizza in one of our cast iron pans.

The rendezvous was really fun though and definitely a highlight of our weekend. It has been a thing Shane has been doing with his best friend Scott for years, and has been telling me all about them. Finally he got to take me to one. Now this was mid February, but the weather couldn’t be nicer! It was on the verge of warm, so it was a delight to walk around with my husband and get to learn about something he loves.

A rendezvous could be described as a sort of reenactment, except, if you use those words in front of Shane, he will deny it is a reenactment. If you ask him what it is all about he will say it is a mountain man gathering where people go dressed as mountain men and do things like set up a camp how they would’ve and have a shooting competition with their muzzleloaders. Sort of like a reenactment you might say, and quite frankly when I am trying to describe it, reenactment slips from my lips. Sorry Shane. I think he doesn’t like that term because it implies people are going to go to gawk at them, touch their stuff, and take selfies, #history #mountainman #beards! And that really doesn’t happen.

When you look up Rocky Mountain Rendezvous, you will find an explanation that says something about an annual gathering that took place for fur traders, and the Rocky Mountain Rendezvous happened specifically between 1825-1840. This was a chance for the mountain men to sell their furs they had gathered and to replenish their supplies. Now they are all over, you can look them up by region or town, and we went to Brookville Pennsylvania’s small February mountain man rendezvous.

Think of the dress for this time period this way, the sewing machine was not created until 1846, and at that Singer’s sewing machine didn’t make it onto the scene until 1850. Any fans of Little House on the Prairie? Well, when the Ingall’s settled on the Osage Diminished Reserve, that was from 1869 to 1870. I don’t know if any of those dates give you a good image of what the people then may have looked like, but we are talking hand stitched, long dresses, bonnets, and everything made out of more natural materials such as wool and linens. If we are looking specifically at the 1830’s, cotton was actually more scarce and expensive, but a fabric that is okay to use at these rendezvous. Since people didn’t have huge closets to pick what new thing they wanted to wear everyday, women wore aprons to keep their dress clean. Meanwhile men would’ve been wearing that sort of billowy white shirt that tucked into their pants if not a buckskin shirt.

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Enough about what they would’ve worn. What I did wear was jeans and a t-shirt with a sweater over top. Shane had proudly presented me with a capote last winter, so I wore that more historically accurate wool jacket over top of my not historically correct jeans and probably synthetic sweater. Shane and his buddy got all dressed up in the correct garb though, and were off to be guided through a shooting course by Scott’s dad.

It was really fun to watch the two banter as they went from obstacle to obstacle, shooting their guns and keeping score. Their dry wit enough to keep me entertained as we waited at one point for a large group ahead of us to move on, Shane and Scott convinced me to try and through the ax while we waited instead. Insisting that this was something I could do. I told them i wasn’t much good at throwing things, and when playing fetch with Jagger, I would often hit the one obstacle in the yard while trying NOT to. But I threw anyways. The ax flew over the log with the playing card on it, beside the log, and smacked into it. When it smacked into it, they were convinced I wasn’t standing in the right area to let the ax rotate enough. Here’s where I asked myself, “Why, oh, why did I not throw the ax more often with my brother when we were camping as teens?” No matter, they were going to fix where I stood, which, in theory, meant the ax would correct itself. I must say, I struck the target once! No, not the playing card, just the large log. The guys were much better then me when I finally gave up the ax.

Finally, we moved on from the throwing to the rest of the course. At the end, the guys had to make a fire, and if they did it in under ten seconds, they got to do a re-shoot of the last target. Shane got his fire in under ten seconds! It was really impressive, considering one time he handed over the tools for me to give this method of making a fire a try, and after about a minute I thought, “Well, I would be doomed.” At least I know if I had my mountain man, I would stay alive.

This whole experience was really fun, and of course wetted my appetite for a bigger rendezvous. The type where no modern anything is allowed, or if you have it, you have to hide it in your tent. I was told at the bigger ones that happen for a few days, there are days where the general public can come in and enjoy, but after that, it is all as historically accurate as possible. This is of course a fun challenge to me, it is moments like this that I am not sure Shane fully comprehends how big of a nerd I can be about such things. I’m not sure Shane fully understands how bug of a history nerd I was, or still am. So when he asked if this is something I would like to dress up in historically accurate clothing and do, I said, “I’m going to stop you at dress up in period clothing. You know I would really like to.”

So I have found a dress on Etsy and am excited that the maker could make it to my specific size. I’m looking forward to more of these in the summer, and sharing in this interest with my husband.

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