Sunday, July 27, 2008

Onward (Eastward?) on the Oregon Trail

Next year, Oregon will celebrate its 150th anniversary as a state — its sesquicentennial.

Celebrations will include people talking about where they came from, a lot of them from the Midwest and other parts of the country, venturing forth along the challenging Oregon Trail as so many people sought to start new homes in the Western frontier.

I’m bucking the trend — I’m moving from the West to Nebraska later this week. I’m actually planning to travel along the Oregon Trail route, although in less time than the covered wagons needed. It depends a bit on how heavy traffic is during the summer tourist season.

To relive the spirit of moving livestock along the trail, I’m taking one of my cats with me: I expect yowling from the cat carrier most of the way. At 14 years old (72 in human years), Mac will be quite cranky about the trip from Oregon to Nebraska. I might be pretty cranky myself about Mac by the time we reach Nebraska, and I expect to age a few years myself.

It’s amazing how many people in the West have ties to Nebraska. As soon as I mentioned I’m moving to Omaha, people began to share they were from there, their grandparents or parents were from there, they went to university there, what they know about college football or the college baseball championships in Nebraska, or even that they have a tie with corn on it from there…

Corn has become the main topic of conversation for people. As in “they grow a lot of corn there, right?” or “I hope you like corn.”

Some people just decided to share corny jokes with me. I’d pop one into the blog if I had a good one, but people might be looking to this blog for kernels of wisdom.

OK, here’s one: What has ears but cannot hear? A field of corn.

Maybe I should stick to my day job… hmm … actually, I am at a point where I am between my day jobs. But before anyone runs off screaming from the corn punishment, I assure you I am much too busy packing boxes for my move and couldn’t possibly think of any more corn humor to puntificate about.

But I digress from the subject of moving.

As I prepare to move, I have found nightly visitors have decided it’s time to bid me farewell. Currently I am juggling a family of raccoons and a skunk. The latter seems most determined to visit the cats’ food dish. The cats seem determined to run after the skunk. I fear that at some point the skunk will run after the cats. I am willing to bet it will be the day I leave for Nebraska, and the cats will be determined to climb into the car as I load it up for the trip. That would be a catastrophe. Especially if the cats decide to hitch a ride with me up until say, Hood River.

So if you see a packed car — with a yowling cat, Oregon license plates, and faint skunk odor trailing it pass through your West/Midwest states later this week — don’t worry.

I’m just reliving the settlers’ journey (with a few changes) on the Oregon Trail in the opposite direction.

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