Throwback Thursday: The Oregon Trail
In this, our inaugural journey through the oiled gears and dimly glowing vacuum tubes of our technologies past, we revisit an old friend. This companion not only shaped our collective understanding of a very important part of American history, it also instilled a generation with a healthy fear of both snake bites and dysentery. This week, we roll our wagon west and test our mettle against the Oregon Trail.
Sitting in the warming glow of our state of the art Power Mac 8600/300, our party is forged! Gathered together from the far corners of the 2bridges offices, comes a team of uber-pioneers ready to face the horrors that lie before ahead: Chris, Financier of the 2bridges wagon and dapper man about town! James, big city lawyer famous for his unbroken string of victories and his fine, velour suits! Byron, blacksmith to the stars! I’m not sure what constitutes a celebrity from ye olde pioneer times, so that may mean actual stars! And Alex, your unnecessarily long-winded narrator.
We gather our supplies and leave on a crisp, May morning. About 200 feet outside of town, one of our oxen takes ill. I don’t cotton much to mystical portents, but as far as omens go, this one seems more on the dark side. Out of sheer stubbornness, we set a grueling pace and leave our beast of burden’s health to fate.
The Big Blue River looms in front of us, big and… blue! 6 feet deep and calm as a sailor’s dream! We caulk our wagon and set sail, joking about the mild weather. I may have missed a spot when sealing our vessel though, as our makeshift craft springs a leak halfway across and sinks quickly to the bottom. Dragging ourselves to shore, we take inventory and find that we’ve only lost a single wagon axle! Truly, Lady Luck smiles upon our journey. Take that stupid oxen omen!
A few more days on the road and we hit the Big Blue River Crossing. Crossing is right there in the name and with only a 5 foot depth, fording this river should be a piece of cake.
We curse the demon river that stole our party leader from us, but we must press on! On the other side, we set up camp and engage in some hunting to both relieve stress and replenish the food consigned to a watery doom. After straight up murdering 3 bison (and wondering why we can’t make multiple trips to harvest more than 200 lbs of meat.) we continue on our journey… for an hour before James is bit by a snake.
But, with brave determination, he insists we press onward despite his wound. Lacking tact, we agree a little too quickly and he shoots us a scowl. Minutes turn to hours, hours in to days, until we stand before another stupid river. Chris’s loss still fresh in our minds, we fork over the 5 bucks to hop on the ferry.
The gentle rocking of the flowing water must have done James some good, because as soon as we crested land, he hopped out on to the shore a fully healed man!
And then was bitten by another snake.
With the exception of James getting bitten two more times, the rest of our journey is almost too easy. We hunt a few more times. We stop and chat with some other travelers. Due to our completely justified fear, we pay for an Indian guide to lead us across another river. Nothing else happens to us all the way to the Dalles, where it’s just a quick and easy “avoid them rocks” mini-game and we’ve completed our journey!
With a final score of 3486, we don’t even come close to making it on the high score board. I bet we could do better.
I hear checkers is a good game.