A Catching Up Post, and The Oregon Trail

The first week of December was a really crappy week.  There’s no other way to put it.  My uncle, my mom’s brother, passed away unexpectedly.  And I was sick as a dog with stomach trouble.  I couldn’t be there for my mom physically when she needed to travel to Nashville to tend to my uncle.  The whole week sucked.  I loved my uncle, even though I hadn’t seen him in almost four years.  He was a kind person, funny, always sweet to me.  He was a passionate animal lover and rescued many cats and dogs over the years.  But he had a lot of problems in his life, even before I came along in the family.  I miss him, though, and despite my sadness will always have good memories of him.  Mom and I are working on finding ways to honor his memory and will have a service in January.

Needless to say my reading and blogging has been off pace to end the year.  But I’m getting back in the swing of things.  I finished a work of nonfiction last night  – The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey by Rinker Buck.  It’s an interesting mix of memoir, history, and travel writing.  Ricker Buck and his brother have a wagon custom made, acquire a team of mules from some Amish folk, attach a pup tent for gear, and make their way down the Oregon Trail.  I was kind of surprised at how much of the old trail is actually still there; just a few sections have been paved over by interstate and highways.  I was also surprised by the age of the brothers. I admit that when I put the book on hold at the library, I assumed that they would be young men.  Wrong!  They’re both over 60!  The work of the trail was very physical, so I can say that these men are in much better shape than I am!

IMG_2839I enjoyed the historical information and excerpts from pioneer journals and letters, but my favorite sections were the interactions the Bucks had with strangers along the way.  Turns out word spreads fast in the West, among ranchers, farmers, and small townspeople who take an interest in the Trail and keeping it alive.  People flocked to the wagon, the mules, as well as Rinker’s brother Nick’s Rack Russell terrier, Olive Oyl.  There were so many instances of goodwill  and generosity, people giving the brothers and their mules a place to rest, rides to town when mishaps occurred, and tips on the best ways to proceed down the trail.  It made me feel good about humanity to read about just how doggone nice people were to them.

It could use a bit of editing, and there’s a surprising amount of profanity included, which in and of itself doesn’t bother me.  I skimmed a few paragraphs here and there that went into too much detail about wagon and mule harness information.  Buck also has a lot of issues with the legacy of his father and their complicated relationship to work out; his father’s ghost sort of haunts the trail at times.  I admit that these sections didn’t hold my attention as strongly as the other parts.  But all in all, this was an interesting and entertaining work of nonfiction.  I certainly admire the courage and spirit that the brothers maintained throughout their adventure!

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8 thoughts on “A Catching Up Post, and The Oregon Trail

  1. So sorry about your uncle and then to be ill on top of that. Yup, really does suck. Condolences to you and your family. Also, I hope you are feeling better.

    And the book sounds really interesting! I hope when I am over 60 I will want to still go adventuring.

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    1. Thanks, Stefanie. I am feeling better. Using the experience as an opportunity to treat my body better, with better quality food. As for the book, it was an inspiring look at what one can accomplish at any age. I hope you and Bookman are adventuring well past your 6os!

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  2. Aww, I’m so sorry for your loss. You’ve had a tough year. I’d love to hear about your plans for your uncle’s service. I think it’s so wonderful when we honor people’s lives. Glad you enjoyed this book as well. It’s been on my list, but I must not have read the synopsis correctly. I imagined it was a historical read, not a revisit to the past. 🙂 Sending hugs your way. Xx

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    1. Thanks, Evie. I’m actually not sure yet what we’ll do to honor my uncle. I know my mom wants to have a service at her Episcopal church. If she’d like me to read something I would love to. He was a big music lover so maybe we can play something from one of his favorite bands. We’ll plan after Christmas.

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