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Flagstaff Hill — National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center

Our visit to the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center was fun as well as educational. The exhibits are designed to be appreciated using all the senses. Every detail is realistic (down to sounds of the oxen and livestock, the creek of the wagon wheels and flies on the animals). The wail of a mother who just lost her child is especially poignant. After reading and listening to the actual words from pioneer diaries it was hard not to have an appreciation of the hardships and difficulties of the journey. We already knew that many of the pioneers who started on the trail died, but were somewhat surprised to learn that statistically one pioneer (many children) is buried for every 80 yards of trail.

What made this museum so entertaining was that we were challenged to discover whether we have the “right stuff” to be successful pioneers. Through interactive displays we were presented with the various options each wagon had to make at various phases of the crossing. After making our decisions we were able to learn whether we had made a wise choice (some folks started off in a horse and buggy!). The most difficult thing we had agreeing on was what to pack for the journey. Danny kept worrying about the weight of the wagon (Sounds just like our Airstream). We also learned that we might have had a difficult time trading with the Indians for food since we tended to be too stingy in parting with our "stuff". As we progressed through the exhibits our decisions were pretty sound and we probably would have made it to Oregon. However, as we learned, at our current ages our chances of dying were pretty high.

Danny and I part company on our fascination with wagon ruts. He was absolutely euphoric at the prospect of seeing the actual ruts left by the Oregon Trail  wagons. Yes ... the ruts are historical, yes ... there are only 300 miles of Oregon Trail ruts still visible, and yes ... the elements are erasing them … however they are still just ruts. Like a knight on the quest for the Holy Grail, Danny took one of the hiking trails to seek out these trail remnants. Ah the ruts….he looked at them, walked on them, and took 15 to 20 photos. His passion subsided after this rut orgy…but my fear is that rut fever may strike again.

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Traveling tends to magnify all human emotions.

— Peter Hoeg —