You Contracted Dysentery, and Died


If your part of my generation, chances are, you too have tried to make the pilgrimage out west. If your elementary school experiences with the game Oregon Trail taught you anything, it's that you never make it to Oregon. Though you my have overcome a series of unfortunate events, a deadly disease was always just around the corner. That is of course if you didn't already give up because you were out of money, or wagon wheels. Dysentery or shingles didn't cross my mind until today, when the state line brought back those memories. One-hundred-fifty years after hundreds of thousands risked their lives for a new life out west, I showed up on a bicycle. There has been food and water readily available pretty much every step of the way. The roads have been great. My biggest concern has been whether or not I'll have to patch an inflatable rubber tube. At no point did I stop to think about not surviving, let alone all the benefits of modern nutrition and medical immunizations. It's easy to forget how much things have changed. Americans should never let their country's past become too unclear, people will show up and try and paint a new picture.

The Americans that settled this part of the country crossed the most unforgiving terrain in what would later become the United States. They took their wagons over the Rockies, through the untamed rivers, and against Indian populations not yet subdued by modern man. There were no promises, either from their loved ones, or their country. No matter how hard they tried and how and far they came, death could strike in the blink of an eye.

I smile thinking of all the people that think healthcare is a right. This country was built by people that couldn't promise to send you a Christmas card (not because the Pony Express wasn't working, but because they didn't know if they'd make it through flu season). If the survivors of the Oregon Trail weren't up in arms about free health care, what did we do to earn it?

It's a weird feeling to have arrived in my last (sort of) state. Idaho was great, a real diamond in the rough. But now all that separates me from the World's largest ocean, is Oregon, hotdog style.

I made my entry into the state after traversing Hell's Canyon. It was a fun ride, not quite the Grand Canyon feel, but similar. Another hot one in the books, the hills will still make a man out of you. The roads seem to be getting steeper as I make my way to the coast. The climbs are starting to have more of an Appalachian feel (not as bad though). This is after the Rockies proved that not all mountain roads are unaccommodating.

I made it to Richland, a very small town. I arrived at the local park where I'm camping, only to find three girls who have been riding the TransAm as well. Two have graduated from Dickinson College in Pennsylvania. The other has two years left. I thought it was commendable that they have been using some of their rest days to speak to school kids about the benefits of a healthy diet and whole foods. I may run into them again over the next day or two. If not, best wishes.

I'm thankful for another great day, and these western night skies. One thing I will really miss about the West, is sitting up and staring into an abyss that is brighter and seemingly more wide open than the one I have at home.