The two mules in the photo above are bigger than they seem. The guy in the top hat is my late brother, Doug Houk [1938-1997 ], and he was 6'6"; or as he liked to say, "I'm 5'18". Why do you ask....shortie?"
I'm not sure how many miles I have driven in my lifetime, but I've put 106,000+ miles on the 1988 Pontiac Grand AM LE that I bought new (and still own). In December of 1999 we bought a 2000 Pontiac Grand AM GT1 . In August of 2000 my wife and I took off on a 7,150 mile trip in the GT1, and I thought about the people who traveled 150+ years ago in wagons.
Many of my ancestors crossed the Oregon Trail in the 1800's. My great great grandfather Nineveh Ford , in 1843, was the first that I am aware of, and he traveled a route that Earl Leggett in the photo above tried to duplicate in 1993. As far as I know, my great grandfather Jacob Houk was the last in 1868. My wife Rachel and I drove through many of the areas my ancestors passed through in wagons, and on foot ! I do not know how they had the guts to make their journey!
Many of my ancestors came from Europe; several from Germany. I have crossed the Atlantic twice; once by sea and once by air. In 1976 I reported aboard USS Albany CG10 ; which changed her home port from Norfolk, Virginia to Gieta, Italy about a month after I arrived in Norfolk. In May of 1978 I flew back to the US in a Boeing 727. Needless to say the flight took hours instead of days. But that's material for another web page.
We had/they had: 2000 vs: 1843 + 1868
Getting ready: WE
Getting ready: THEYThere is one thing to be said in favor of NOT going 75 MPH.We: got 30 MPG
If a bird flies into you when you're going 1-4 MPH there will
be little damage. To you or the bird. When you're driving down
the road at 75 MPH and a bird flies into your windshield....
The bird that flew into us did not damage the glass because of
the low angle of the windshield of the GT1.
They: got 5 - 20 MPD (miles per day)
We: went " through " some hills and mountains
They: went around mountains they could not go "over"(I must admit that we did have to stop for a few minutesWe: never got wet
in SW Colorado because of VERY heavy rain.)
They: got very wet ! (see also )
(The GT1's sun roof doesn't leak.)from Linda V.We: saw signs , "Next service 30 miles"
"We: encountered very little dust
They: had dust up to a foot deep!
"We: had a warm shower whenever we felt dusty
They: had the cold river whenever they could stop
They: didn't see many signs and darn little serviceOne of my pioneer families lost 6 members making the trip toWe: had an AM/FM/CD/Cassette stereo radio to listen to
Oregon. This included a mother of three who died giving birth
to a fourth; who died a few months later. The patriarch of the
group also died on the trail.
My great great great grandmother Mary Anne Ashbaugh Courtney
flat refused to toss her twenty gallon copper kettle, but she did give
away her many books. As long as she lived she would wish for the
books left in Iowa.
They: had to make their own music
There was one stretch of I-90 in the mountains of WashingtonWe: had cellular phone service almost everywhere we went
where I could not pick up anything on the radio. Nothing! It's
a good thing I had that Kitty Wells - Webb Pierce C-90 tape. I
didn't want to mess with tapes or CD's. This tape is one I made
a year ago and put in the car the day we got it. :-)
They: had.... What the heck is a "cellular phone "?
Rachel forgot to pack the AC charger for her cell phone; the carWe: had access to e-mail almost everywhere we went
charger was already in the car. The only time she could charge
her battery was when we were in the car or we were parked in a
They: didn't have Algore to build the internet
Most of the e-mail I got while on the road was spam. I wonderWe: were never very far from medical aid
what Nineveh Ford , et al, would have given for some real SPAM ?
They: were seldom near it or a doctor
We: saw some graffiti
They: created some graffiti
We: looked for deer to avoid hitting them
They: looked for deer to eat them
We: would make this trip again
They: probably wondered why they made the trip
It seems that a great many of my ancestors moved around a lot.We: were seldom in any danger
When my great grandmother, Sarah Jane Courtney Houk , got to
Linn County, Oregon, she refused to move again. My parents
lived in at least 22 different houses between 1939 and 1961. When
I got to San Diego in the early 1960's I lived in several houses. In
1969 I grew roots, and have lived in the same house since then . I
know how Sarah felt; but then I'm not pregnant - she was. My
grandfather was born 3 weeks after they arrived in Linn County.
They: were always in danger
Several people connected to my family died along the Oregon Trail.We: seldom had to ask for directions
In the case of Catherine Carney (Sager) Pringle both parents died
making the trip . Catherine did gain a sister on the way west. The
only danger we encountered was when we drove into a down pour
on I-70 in SW Colorado. The rain came down so hard that I could
not see where I was going; I hit the brakes, and pulled to the side
of the freeway. It's a good thing that everyone else stopped too!
They: seldom found anyone to ask for directions
We did call a Radio Shack store in Salem, Oregon to get directionsWe: had fun
to that store from Woodburn . It's too bad that Woodburn is north
of Salem as the directions they gave me were for coming from the
south. We found the store anyway.
I must admit that I sorta got lost in Denver; but I knew where I
was. It's just that I really didn't want to go to Boulder .
I do admit that the pioneers had guides.
They: didn't always have fun
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