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Monday, January 21, 2013

The Oregon Trail

I'm very grateful that I didn't have to raise my kids in the 1800's. I'm even more grateful I didn't have to cross the country in a covered wagon with them. I think it's safe to assume that after a week with my children, we would be in more danger from our fellow pioneers than the Indians or the elements. 

My kids woke up plenty early as babies, but they aren't babies anymore, and if they don't have to be at school or work, they don't emerge from their nightly hibernation until noon - on a good day. That business of hitting the trail before the sun was up, well, it would be nothing but a dream for those accompanying us on our journey west. With my kids dragging us down, we wouldn't see the ocean in a mere four to six months - it would be more like four to six years! 

Migrating a good century before Ronald McDonald ever thought of making burgers quickly, pioneers were forced to cook all their meals over campfires - which were fueled by cow pies. Yes, food was cooked over cow poop! Yum! Good luck getting my girls to pick up one of those things in the days before rubber gloves were invented. Heck, good luck getting my girls to pick one of those things up while wearing rubber gloves! And while we're on the subject, good luck getting my girls to eat anything cooked over poop! And honestly, how many of the cow pies my son picked up would actually make it to the fire instead of being chucked at one of his sisters ... or me? 

I'm guessing we would be the only covered wagon without a fire. We'd have to get our nutrition eating spoonfuls of raw flour and lard, and taking turns at gnawing on a slab of salt-pork. 

Now here's a little known fact - when people made the trip westward, only the driver, infants, the sick, and the infirm rode in the wagon. Everyone else ... walked. Yes, that's right. They walked from Independence, Missouri, over the Rocky Mountains and the Seirra-Nevada's, clear to the Pacific Ocean. If you think it's hard to travel across town in air conditioned comfort while watching a DVD with your kids is difficult, try making them walk from April to October! After listening to my kids whine "How much loooooongerrrrrrrrrrr?" I can pretty much guarantee you that in order to silence them, I would have invented duct tape before we made it out of Kansas.

When I think of pioneer children I would least like to travel with, my first thought is of Nelly Olsen. Sadly, my kids could make the lazy, ill-tempered Nelly appear sweet and industrious. Indeed ... if Nelly were part of our wagon train, she would be held up as a role model to my children ... "Why can't you kids be more like Nelly?" 

So, yes ... I will forever be eternally grateful that I never had to travel across the country in a covered wagon with my kids for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which is that I've never been what one would consider a lucky person. It's pretty much a given we would have had the misfortune of being part of the Donner Party ... and I have a pretty good idea which family they would have eaten first.

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