Sunday, October 11, 2009

My Oregon Trail Travel Journal

Lately I've been dabbling in Oregon Trail II. I think most people remember playing the classic Oregon Trail in elementary school. Back in the day you would watch your little wagon with two oxen trek across the plains, trying your best to ensure nobody in your party dies.

Oregon Trail II is pretty much the same, except it shows your party crossing the plains with a birds-eye map view, and there are loads of additional options. For example, you don't have to go to Oregon at all. You can go to Salt lake City if you want, or a few cities in California. Plus, the jewel case on Oregon Trail II clearly states that this game is for "Ages 10-Adult". I fit snugly in this category. Anyway, with an intent to travel to Sacramento, my wagon companions and I set out on the Oregon Trail earlier this week.

First of all, who would lead our team? Not me. The last time I appointed myself as wagon master I drove us in a 400 mile circle, and was later fired by the wagon train. (Which is the most embarrassing way to lose Oregon Trail II... I would have much rather the entire group die of diarrhea, and I can only hope they did after they fired me.)

Since I had already failed, I couldn't think of anyone else better equipped to head this trip than Candace Cameron, who starred as DJ on Full House:

With my wagon master position filled, I went about filling the rest of the team.

1. Craig B. - I might be disgraced as a wagon master, but I still have a pretty good handle on when you should clean and dress a wound in the event of a bear attack... which is nearly always... considering your other option is to fill the wound with sulfur.
2. A 14 year-old boy named David - I decided that at least one of the people travelling with us should be an actual pioneer. David fit the bill.
3. Hermione Granger - I was thinking that as long as Hermione Granger was a part of our group, we might be able to expand our options, like so:
Broken Wagon Wheel
- Try to repair it
- Replace it from supplies
- Trade for a replacement
- Ride safely on the back of magical hypogriffs all the way to California
4. Karl Malone -

5. Spawn - It hasn't happened yet, but I anticipate that I'll eventually recieve a notice somewhere along the trail that sounds something like:
The lord of Hell has sent demons to kill you.
- Stop and gather wild fruit
- Caulk the wagon and float
- Have Spawn spitefully send them back to Hell with a bunch of totally bad-a guns

Here is a picture of our team right before heading out on the trail, plus two children who got in the way:

Independence Missouri, April 1852
First of all, oxen apparently only cost $11 in 1852, so I bought 20 of them. I figured that if every part of our wagon broke, we could all resort to mounting an ox and riding him to California individually.

The first challenge of the trip happened seven days and seventy miles away from Independence, when I realized I had failed to buy a gun. So we turned the wagon around, picked one up seven days later, and headed back towards California. At this point I was very happy to not be the wagon master. I'm sure all the wagon train's anger was deflected from me, and onto Candace Cameron.

After reaching Nebraska without too much trouble (besides Spawn getting a bad cold), we discovered an abandoned wagon which we searched for useful items, turning up a ladle. YES! Thank the fools who left their ladle behind! Haha! A ladle was something we had been unable to purchase in Independence, and we would no longer have to experience the extreme suffering caused by crossing the plains without a ladle. Luckily we were able to benefit from the misfortune of some ladle-less idiots somewhere down the trail.

After discovering the ladle, I tried my hand at hunting for the first time on the trail. One very lucky thing about travelling the Oregon Trail is that bears often wander laterally across the open plains of Nebraska. Obviously this isn't a very good simulation of reality, and I think, a downgrade from Oregon Trail I's hunting program which quite a bit more accurately depicts the behavior of wild animals, consisting of running haphazardly through the woods until they run into an object (usually a cactus or rock) forcing them to turn 180 degrees and run the other direction, as wild animals are prone to do. Also, once shot, animals in the original Oregon Trail would roll over on their backs in the same fashion as actual wild deer lie on their backs when shot. Anyone who knows anything about hunting can support what I'm saying.
I soon dispatched two bears, who were practically loafing around, for 300 pounds of meat, but I was only able to carry 186 pounds back to camp. I guess the designers of this game didn't realize that it wouldn't be a challenge for Karl Malone to wrestle both of those bears into submission and rip their arms off, let alone carry them both back to camp.

Suddenly I found our wagon train running into loads of rivers. You have a few options when crossing rivers:
1. You can ford the river, by just forcing your oxen to drive through it
2. You can caulk your wagon, and float it across
3. You can take the ferry or toll bridge if they are available
4. You can hire Indians to help if they are available

I had trusted the indians before, but I feel like every time I hire them to help cross a river my wagon tips over in the water, and without fail I lose my only checkerboard (which I'm always very careful to buy). I don't think this is coincidence. I think the Indians love checkers.

Something you might not know about every river in America is that they are plagued by maelstroms that bounce back and forth between each shore. Should you ever in your life plan to cross an American river, be sure to avoid the maelstroms. Otherwise, your vessel will tip over, and you will lose any checkerboards you have on deck.

We reached Salt Lake City on July 15, 1852. We kept going and soon enough we were crossing the Bear River. Unfortunately, I nearly drowned in the crossing, caught in one of Americas dangerous maelstroms no doubt. In fact, Candace Cameron recorded in her own journal: "July 20 - Craig B. gave us a good scare by coming close to drowning. I decided to continue." This doesn't really surprise me, since the only swimming techniques I have ever mastered are the sidestroke and the elementary backstroke. I'm sure everyone got to shore safely while I was still laying on my back screaming, "Soldier, monkey, plane! Soldier, monkey, plane! Why oh why did I only manage to learn these two very ineffective methods of swimming?!"

Unfortunately, I assume as a result of our difficulty crossing the Bear River, David suffered internal bleeding. Finally, I decided to "Administer laudanum." I have no idea what laudanum is, but it sounds like some sort of medicine. I imagine this is how the actual pioneers handled their injuries:
Pioneer 1 - Hey, David is bleeding internally, what do we have?
Pioneer 2 - Well... uhhh.... we have laudanum, epsom salts, peppermint, or we can increase his activity.
Pioneer 1 - Ummm... well, let's just try the laudanum.

David died a couple days later, but I still stand by my decision to administer laudanum.

Months later we arrived in Sacramento. After settling for a while, I was able to (I assume magically, and with Hermione's help) look into the future of Candace Cameron, which read -

"In 1852, Candace Cameron settled on 688 acres of land along the banks of California’s Sacramento River.
Despite some hardships in the early years, Candace Cameron proved extremely prosperous, steadily acquiring more land and becoming a leader in the growing community.
Regrettably, several of Candace Cameron’s descendants—including a major figure in an early twentieth-century government and business scandal—have managed to tarnish the family’s good name."

I'm not surprised to be honest. After settling for a bit, we turned around and tried to make it back to Salt Lake City (which is something you can apparently do in Oregon Trail II... this was news to me). This trip wasn't quite as successful. The wagon train eventually fired Candace Cameron while we were crossing the Utah Desert... which ironically is where I was fired two weeks ago. I checked out Candace Cameron's journal later, and found there was all kinds of stuff she was keeping from us. Take, for example, her comments on eagles:

April 2 - Saw eagles today near Lone Elm. What majestic creatures!
April 21 - Saw eagles today near Red Vermillion. What majestic creatures!
June 15 - Saw eagles today near North Platte River. What majestic creatures!
July 22 - Saw eagles today near Bear river.What majestic creatures!

I'm totally pissed she didn't tell me about all those times that she saw eagles! What kind of person sees a bunch of eagles, and doesn't tell everyone else?

Worse, Candace Cameron apparently hid some other things from our party:

April 4 - Enjoyed a cup of coffee with Mr. Lumare today at noon near Blue Mound.
July 15 - Mr. Lumare figured we would reach Great Salt Lake City today, and he was right.
October 22 - Mr. and Mrs. Billings came by for a visit today near Big Meadows; had a very nice chat.

Who in the world are these people? I was never told about any of them. This means Candace was either, 1. Insane, or 2. Undermining our wagon trip from the very beginning with these sinister, mysterious people.

It doesn't actually say what happens after the wagon master is fired, but I can only assume she died of diarrhea in the Utah Desert.

Final Note: Don't forget to vote on the new poll! Hot dog!


Rebekah said...

I feel really offended that you left me behind on this trip. After all, I was one of only two people who didn't give you any trouble by being sick or dying last time.

I'm disappointed, Craig, very disappointed indeed.

jaime said...

I just have one question...Did you hook up with Hermione??

Ps- Candace is a douche for leaving you out of those glorious eagle sightings!

Bridger W. said...

I'm not surprised to learn that Candace's descent into madness began long before the cancellation of Full House.

This blog was fantastic.

Mickael said...

Craig, your post inspired and educated me. When the zombie horde attacks its good to know you have these survival skills to ford any river you need to as long as you are not wagon master. I also did a search to find out what Laudanum is. Turns out it is 10% opium and 1% morphine and 100% good times. You did that guy a favor administering it to him.