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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Oregon Trail by Rinker Buck

This book, the "Oregon Trail" by Rinker Buck, is delightfully fun and informative. It is a modern day adventure story set in an old covered wagon pulled by mules.

The style is similar to author Bill Bryson's work - kind of quirky with odd experiences you laugh at, but mixed with personal tidbits you find interesting and captivating.

Before reading this book, I didn't know the Oregon Trail was preserved as a National historic trail. I assumed it was now just freeways with a historical marker here and there to inform us what used to be.  But the Oregon Trail has only two stretches of suburban spawn around Scottsbluff, Nebraska and Boise, Idaho. The rest of the 2,100 miles is still accessible along remote farm and ranch roads. This, to me, is rather amazing. This would be a new and different way to see America.

More than 400,000 pioneers made this trek to come West. But somehow, having the experience redone in modern times with a gifted writer made the travel adventure come to life.

The author is someone we can all probably relate to in some way. He is middle aged, divorced, a drinker of wine, likes his shirts pressed and ironed, kind of a neat freak, and has career burnout. His brother, who relentlessly wears him down to accompany him on this trip, seems to be his polar opposite - messy, loud, a mechanic, opinionated, broke, with health problems. You can't help but wonder if one of them will be killed, or maimed on this trip.

Sharing travel experiences is often a snoozer for the reader, but this author does it well. It is a fun read, especially if you like American history, adventure stories, have family who crossed the plains, or even have a weird sibling you can't escape from, you will probably enjoy this book.