80 Lbs. Of Meat

I have sobering news to report of our family.

I broke my leg.  Dos broke her arm – twice! – both Uno and Tres were carried away by an eagle and only Uno has been recovered.

My wagon has burned, broken, and capsized and my fishing expeditions have limited success.

There’s been a cholera outbreak in the community.  This streak of bad luck has been going on for the last 300 miles, pursued us to Fort Laramie and crossed the Platte River with us.

I’d heard stories of the difficulty but nothing prepared me for the reality of the Oregon Trail.

(In digital format, nicely updated from my childhood games played on computers the size of Smart Cars during elementary school computer time.)

A friend reminded me of how significant the Oregon Trail was for youthful pecking order: “We used to put in names of people in the class and then announce loudly when someone got typhoid and died. It was also a very big deal, full of social implications, whom you chose to have married to each other. Awww, the good ‘ole days…”

I got the Oregon Trail app on my iTouch awhile ago but hadn’t committed to a game until two days ago when a car ride made me long for the good old days of a covered wagon, dusty roads and flapjacks made on a cast-iron griddle.

After playing the game for two days I’ve come up recommendations for anyone choosing to relive their childhood memories utilizing today’s technology:

1.  Don’t name your wagon family members the names of your real family members.  The first time Dos broke her arm and the game asked me what I wanted to do, “Go on,” “Search for Help” or “Rest” it was an agonizing decision.  The mother in me wanted the best pediatrician I could find in the Missouri River area but the Settler in me knew a broken arm could be walked off.  I callously went on while the game blinked her pain for 60 miles and my heart pounded remorse.

2.  Beware the Eagles.  Unlike today’s laws protecting our national bird, in Oregon Trail you can shoot the eagles on sight.  I strongly recommend you put national pride aside and pop a cap in those birds.  One bird made off with Uno for three days and just recently Tres was taken, never to be seen again.  I hate that bird.

Benjamin Franklin didn’t like the eagles, either.  Here’s what he said when it was chosen as our national bird:

“I wish that the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country, he is a bird of bad moral character, he does not get his living honestly, you may have seen him perched on some dead tree, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the labor of the fishing-hawk, and when that diligent bird has at length taken a fish, and is bearing it to its nest for the support of his mate and young ones, the bald eagle pursues him and takes it from him…. Besides he is a rank coward; the little kingbird, not bigger than a sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the district. He is therefore by no means a proper emblem for the brave and honest. . . of America.”

Speak it, Benji!

3.  Slow and Steady Wins the Race.  While I haven’t completed my journey to Oregon and winter is coming on in the mountains, I do feel strongly my walking pace has put me ahead of schedule and been good for the whole family.  The rabbit pace is flashy for awhile and the turtle pace is fine for a rough road, but the steady walk, that’s the middle ground that wins the prize.

There’s a life lesson to be learned from this: Putting one foot in front of the other in a consistent manner will get you far in life.  And on the Oregon Trail.

The End.

(I found a fun tribute to the Oregon Trail on this website… he raises some important points about the plausibility of this game and why we love it so much… I also feel it’s important to note I used the phrase “pop a cap in that bird” for the sole purpose of making you laugh because it’s so incredibly awkward I would ever put that in writing, considering the source – me.)

Do you have any fun memories of the Oregon Trail?

Stumble It!

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4 thoughts on “80 Lbs. Of Meat

  • June 29, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    I’m addicted to OT on facebook. Now I need to get it on my phone. And… I always go rabbit-paced.

  • June 30, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    How fun to think that game is still around. I’ve got to get the app!

  • July 3, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    I remember playing that game in elementary school. In fact, it is one of my very few vivid memories from grade school. I remember that my classmates always loved Oregon Trail Day in the Computer Lab, and I disliked them. Primarily, the computer program only allowed me to type the first eight letters of my nine-letter name. Considering that I prefer to be called by my given name I never thought to use a nickname. I simply hoped that all my classmates knew that I really did know how to spell my name. Additionally, in the game itself, I always failed to catch enough food for my family, and we all died at the very beginning of the game. Nowadays, I simply remind myself that a lack of computer gaming skills is no real deficiency, but, at the time, Computer Lab and Oregon Trail were synonymous with humiliation. 🙂


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