Oregon Trail by bike, etc.

Pre-note: I heard Martin Sheen and his son, Emilio Estevez, describe the recently rereleased film, “The Way“, Monday.  The film sounded absolutely fascinating, and we went for the single day showing at a local theater on Tuesday.  The film far exceeded my already high expectations.  At this writing, I’m not sure of the future schedule for The Way on line or in theaters, but if you learn it’s available in your area, do carve out time to see it.  You will be enriched.   Here is an extended Washington Post interview with Sheen and Estevez.  It is NOT a “Catholic” film.  The characters are four strangers who find themselves, together, not always comfortably, on their individual journeys in life.  Trust me.  It is a film for personal reflection.


My kid brother John wears me out, just following he and his friends biking adventures.  (He’s 75 next week, and his biking partner is older than he, I think.  Go figure!)

In the last few days he and his friend finished biking the first segment of the Oregon Trail, from Independence MO to North Platte NE.  Last year they did the last segment from Boise, Idaho to Oregon City, Oregon.  Now, they’re now planning how/when to do the middle segments, totaling another 1,000 miles or so, through western Nebraska, Wyoming and Idaho.


John is an outstanding photographer.  The most recent segment as pictured by him is accessible here.  The last segment, from last year, is here.  Enjoy.

Where/What was the Oregon Trail?  It is over 2,000 miles of never easy travel if subject to the elements as bikers (now) and people in covered wagons (then) discovered.  If you were going west, there was a good chance this was at least part of your route.  Here is the National Park Service brochure.  The map is an interactive one.

Here are some words shared by John on the just completed segment: “First couple [photos] are the most interesting to me actually – a standard statue outside of standard courthouse in the standard town of Independence – what made it a little bit different was the statue was left in place, and and an explanatory placard was added…

Back [home] after about 520 miles and 11,000 feet of climbing in supposedly flat northeast Kansas and central Nebraska; as we did our thing on biking the general route of Oregon Trail. Did the initial segment from Independence Missouri to North Platte, Nebraska

As expected, not particularly visually appealing for this lakes and rivers and mountains and desert photographer – long stretches of empty plains; and cattle farms; and wind farms; and corn rows; and wheat fields, with circular irrigation rigs all over the place. Fortunately, most the time winds were not a factor, and we started early enough each day so temperatures were not factor either.

Still fully enjoyed the trip – particularly the stops at the various Cenexes and Casey’s that served as local hangouts. Got a chance to talk to a whole bunch of different groups of farmers and people, and really reminded me of North Dakota small towns. Managed to keep the conversation light – because more than likely I was going to encounter those people again as they passed me bicyling along in the various narrow roads and narrow shoulders in the area!

Regardless, overall a good time. Making tentative plans to continue the trek starting at North Platte and on into Central Wyoming – might be a little bit more technically challenging, because this time are able to do about 50 miles a day and go from hotel to hotel along the general route.

[Will] put a photo album together of various sites along the trip – but don’t really expect to see in my take that I like that much. Will leave you with the one screenshot image of the weather App rain picture on our last day going into North Platte, Nebraska. [below] Probably the heaviest downpour for the longest time that I’ve been involved on bicycle. At least it was the last day! Then we got into a rental car and drove the 1500 miles back to Davis.”

POSTNOTE:  Life does go on, for me, my brother, for all of us.  In our still free country, we are the ones who make or will break our democracy by our action or more likely, our inaction.  Wednesday night came two opinions from people I highly respect on issues of the day.  I encourage you to follow and subscribe to them.

Heather Cox Richardson on the National Debt and its international implications, here.

Joyce Vance on assorted matters of Law, here.


from John: I appreciate the kind words and the publication of the links!

I was interested to see that “The Way” was re released – it is a great movie about The Camino de Santiago. I actually think that [our sister] Mary did a small portion of it via car/hike a few years back.
As you may recall, I actually did the second half of that with my biking buddy, Jim,  back in 2019. We were going to go back in 2020 to complete the first half – but something happened, and we will likely never make it back to Spain. Here’s the link to that album.

from Amanda: That’s so cool!  My husband, a friend, and I did the trail with a road trip in 2011.  Amazing stories and scenery.

from Jeff: Monsieur  aa) We watched The Way many years ago, a very affecting film…richly made, well cast….definitely a “Catholic” movie, but spiritual for sure.

bb) will go back and look at your brothers info and photos…funny that movie made me think of riding the Camino on our bikes…but
I think it would take a few years to accomplish, I like the way your brother is doing his trip…will get back and look at that post for sure.
Have a nice weekend.
how are you doing by the way….all ok and back to whatever normal is?

from Molly:  Thanks, Dick. The photos are indeed top-notch, and thought-provoking, too.

Also appreciated the essay recommendations–both are such splendid writers & thinkers…and, frankly, there’s just too much daily for us information junkies to be able to gulp it all down, isn’t there… 🙄

from MaryEllen: Beautiful photos! Your brother is an adventurous spirit with a deeply thoughtful bent. I do like how Kansas chose to give a new perspective to that statue.

Reminds me of Shakespeare’s comment
‘the evil that men do lives after them. The good is oft interred with their bones.’
Will a more mature humanity be able to recognize both?
2 replies
  1. norm hanson
    norm hanson says:


    Interesting comments from your brother about the latest part of his ride on the Oregon Trail. I also appreciated your brief commentary at the end regarding the reality that the nature of our country in the future is up to us. Do we actually want to continue to be a representative democracy or so we want to become an authoritarian type of government where the government decides what people can read or say, how they can worship and who can vote? Unfortunately, it appears that the man-child who would be king as tapped the well holding so many folks who would prefer the latter including too many “good”: Christians!

  2. Lois Young
    Lois Young says:

    Wonderful pictures! Your brother may be following the trail in some parts as did my distant cousin, Randall Henry Hewitt, in his journey from IL, and then from St. Joseph MO to Olympia WA. I read his book “Across the Plains and Over the Divide” created from notes of every day of 9 month trip in 1862. If your brother, or you, are interested, the book is in several libraries Mpls/St. Paul – certainly would be a good comparison of the bike trip VS oxen trip. Thanks for sharing – made my day!


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