Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Making Dysentery Fun Again - Survival Wednesdays

Do you remember in grade school when computer labs were starting to become common? Okay, so I'm old and elementary school was in the 1980's for me. Ahh, the smell of Aquanet and New Coke...

I remember my green-screened Apple IIe sitting all humongous and beige on the table in front of me. No such thing as a mouse yet...just you, the gaping floppy disk hole, and the keyboard.

We'd spend two hours every Friday playing Oregon Trails. A strategy game designed to help you with planning skills. All it really taught me was that if there was ever a survival situation...I was toast.

You had to use money to buy bullets and foodstuffs. Then you and your family set off in this pixelated outline of a covered wagon. Every now and then you'd get to shoot lines or "bullets" at "deer" and basically die of starvation or dysentery in the wilds of Oregon.

Fun huh?

It completely baffles me how so many people in the 1800's thought this was good idea in real life. Thousands of family's set off in search of a better way of living in the Westward Expansion

Manifest Destiny...

Evidence of the hardship could be found all along the Oregon trail and the routes to the Gold Rush in California. One would pass all kinds of things scuttled by traveling wagon trains. Furniture, dead and dying animals...anything you could live without was tossed to lighten the load.

When my family of eight moved five years ago to our current home, we couldn't fit all of our stuff in the largest U-haul truck they had. I ended up making endless mini-van shuttles to and from the two cities with boxes of "essentials" that were saved from my dumpster frenzy...the children ganged up on me 6 to 1 in favor of their toys. 

As I research and explore these intrepid people for my 1840's Historical Romance, I'm beginning to understand the call of adventure. The lure of making your own way and testing yourself against the unknown.  I'm also truly realizing the hardships and dangers faced by these pioneers.

My question to you is this...would you ever drop everything, pare down your life to transportable size, and take off for the unknown with only your family in tow?

I'm not sure I'd say no...

Until next time...Go Write!
Photograph by McD22  Photograph by dbking.