Last week, Gameloft’s iPhone and iPod Touch revision of the classic game pretty much everyone who went to school in the ’90s played around with in the computer labs, The Oregon Trail, was released to the anticipating public (if you have been looking for it, its under Educational in the App Store).
I gave it a spin last night and after 32 days (in game) arrived at my family’s first major destination, Fort Kearny, 298 miles into our journey without a single soul perishing and in good health is quite the achievement in these times.
Being a carpenter as my chosen profession, I know a thing or two about wagons so the worry of being stranded in the middle of nowhere with a broken wagon isn’t on my mind. Together with my wife Jane, two daughters Martha and Cassidy, and my son Billy, we are searching for a better tomorrow, one hopefully filled with gold!
We set out in March, the air is still chilly and there’s not a lot of grass for the oxen, but at least we have the advantage of starting out cold and ending warmer. We decided that a moderate pace would be best for us, especially since the kids kept nagging about whether or not we were there yet.
After a a couple of miles, our wagon train leader offered to let us do some hunting. Of course, because I still had to prove my worth to the train, I could only hunt small game that wouldn’t last very long but would get us by.
Continuing our days on the trail we came across a hitchhiker who claimed to be a doctor heading to Fort Kearny. He offered us $15 for the trip and what harm could having a doctor on your train be? My wife and children were scared of the man, I was definitely in the doghouse should anything happen to us, but I was confident the man was legit.
Days passed and trail crossed we hunted and fished for food. Then the unthinkable happened and my daughter caught the dysentery. Luckily we had our doctor friend with us and he cured her after two days. I knew having him would be a good idea.
A few days later we encountered some bandits. Unfortunately, we couldn’t out run them and lost supplies. Greasy bandits won this time, but we still had enough food and supplies to make it to the fort.
At least until our wagon broke down. I pounded nail after nail into the wooden wagon and fixed ‘er right up. I told you being a carpenter had its advantages out here.
After more traveling and another bout with disease we finally made it to our first destination: Fort Kearny.
During our brief stay at the fort, I took up a job at the local Post Office tapping out telegraphs earning me a whooping 18 dollars. I also conversed with a few characters such as a dainty lady who shot her first buffalo, apparently it fed them for 2 weeks. All I’ve been allowed to shoot at this point was some rabbits and squirrels. There was also a fellow by the name of John O’ Sullivan spouting some rambling nonsense about “manifest destiny”.
Altogether our finances totaled $83, so my trip to the general store was going to be thrifty at best. After $70, I procured a Pony Cart whip to keep my oxen healthy, some food, some supplies, and new clothes for the family.
It’s now going to be another 32 miles to our next destination to Plum Creek. Who knows what craziness this journey into the West will offer us. We have survived thus far though, I’m sure we’ll survive what’s to come… as long as its not dysentery.