Reading reflection: The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey

There are tons of “American journey” stories out there, and people constantly look for an angle for their own, often toward authoring a book or blog or such.  Many of these aren’t particularly interesting, but Rinker Buck certainly can’t be called uninteresting in his choice of adventure: re-creating the Oregon Trail in modern times using the same style of ox-drawn covered wagon employed by the settlers.

Rinker Buck’s book The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey chronicles his journey along the Oregon Trail, a gateway across America taken by settlers in the early 1800s.  Parts of the trail have become roads and highways, but much of it is far from civilization.  The book balances stories about traveling through wilderness and traveling on modern roads in an old-style vehicle, interleaving the history of the trail.

As always, I kept an eye toward tech use, which was not at all a focus of the book.  The author had a mobile phone on his journey that he occasionally used, but generally he relied on the oft-present kindness of people that he encountered along his journey.  He certainly had a lot to say about the role of technology in enabling trail travel, then in making it obsolete–focusing on tech advances in transportation, manufacturing, and farming.

Overall, the book was entertaining and very well written, certainly worth a read both for the historical perspectives and to learn about a meaningful journey across America.

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