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Month: September 2013

Oregon Trail Live!

Oregon Trail Live!

“Gather the wagons, grab three sturdy friends and prepare to hit the trail. Costumes, silly team names and pioneer spirit are highly highly encouraged though not, we suppose, strictly necessary.”


I went down to the Willamette Heritage Center in Salem, OR today to participate in the live action Oregon Trail game.  It’s a re-creation of the many adventures of the old Oregon Trail game many will remember playing back in the day as kids.

The day started out by arriving and building your own ‘wagon’ to carry throughout the challenges:



While we waited for the official start, we wandered around the center and looked at many of the funny re-creators:IMG_0617


There was even a saloon:


And a sheriff:


Soon we gathered for the start of the event which was kicked off by a bull-whip cracking minister:



And we were off to compete at 10 different stations based on events of the game.  Like the 3-legged dysentery race in which you needed to run to an outhouse and back again:


The buffalo chip toss:


This was simply a demonstration at the center of some guys doing period black-smiting:


Some teams came with their own shirts:


They had a great little bluegrass band playing while you competed.  Very talented guys and nice accompanyment:


This was the river crossing event in which your team needed to protect your wagon while the local women’s roller-derby team tried to whack you and the tiny wagon with pool noodles:


Alas, not everyone makes it to Oregon.  Here you had to bury your ‘ill-fated 5th team member’ that you made out of paper at the beginning of the event.  Points were given based on the quality of your eulogy and the song you sang.  The winners sang, “The wheels on the bus” for top prize…


This was my favorite event.  You had to drive this guy over a short course while he recieted facts about meat.  When you got back to the starting point, he’d quiz you based on what you remembered from his facts.



Some Japanese exchange students were the ‘animals’ in the shooting contest.  These actually shot back – and were quite good shots really.  We got top marks for our efforts:


This was the ‘caulk and float your boat’ event.  You had to use tin foil, plastic wrap, and other craft supplies to protect your wagon from capsizing while fording the two ‘rivers’.  Ours passed with flying colors.


Finally, you got the end – the office of the surveyor general.  She would give you a little bit of string and you’d go into the yard and ‘stake your claim’.  You’d then set up a little homestead.  A prize was given for the best decorated homestead.IMG_0650



There was a tie for one prize, and they had to arm-wrestle for top honors in the saloon:


Afterwards, we went over to downtown Salem to Coin Jam brewpub and arcade.  They had some AMAZING old machines in here.  Even better than Ground Control in Portland:


So, overall, a fabulous time!


Hans Von Balthasar and Billy Joel

Hans Von Balthasar and Billy Joel

Writings from a theologian I love with a profound understanding of the human heart/condition:

“Man is the creature with a mystery in his heart that is bigger than himself. He is built like a tabernacle around a most sacred mystery…this sanctuary is neglected and forgotten, like an overgrown tomb or an attic choked with rubbish, and it needs an effort – the effort of contemplative prayer – to clean it up and make it habitable for the divine Guest. But the room itself does not need to be built; it is already there and always has been, at the very center of man.”
-Von Balthasar

Lest you think this is all just religious nonsensical musing – others recognize it too…