My knowledge of the Oregon Trail is almost entirely gleaned from the Apple IIe game of my childhood. Whenever I see The Dalles on the map, I recall my fictitious children dying of dysentery, my successful (and unsuccessful) attempts at fording rivers, my ability to kill an entire buffalo with a single shot but only being strong enough to carry 100 pounds of meat. I loved that game.
Leaving Boise, we met up with the Oregon Trail. It’s not what it was and it’s not what it was like in the game (more Confederate flags than I remember), but it amazes me that anybody made it at all.
Reading about Shackleton, I learned that his opinion was that the lighter, more nimble the expedition, the more likely its success. In third grade, I thought the same thing. I’d buy as many oxen as possible, go light on food, hunt when needed, and race to Oregon at “Grueling” speed. Sure, I’d leave a trail of dead children, but I almost always made it, scored some points.
Now, we’re flying along the trail in our minivan, passing semis and RVs and RVs pulling boats and diesel-powered pickup trucks pulling “Montana” trailers pulling boats. We are lean and mean. We are moving fast. I hope we make it.