Ye Olde Summer Roadtrip

Orlin and Mandy Ostby are more courageous than most parents planning a summer trip with four children. They aren't going to fly to Disneyland or drive to Mount Rushmore. They're walking along side an oxcart with the kids for more than 400 miles from near the Canadian border down to the State Fair grounds. The Ostbys will begin their march in St. Vincent, Minn., a town of 117 in the extreme northwest part of the state. They'll travel the historic Pembina Trail which was one of the early trade routes that led to the Twin Cities' formation and development. Orlin knows all about the Pembina and the laborious task of traveling. Fifty years ago, during Minnesota's centennial celebrations, Orlin trained the ox that another man used to traverse the Pembina.

The Ostbys oxcart will be pulled by another ox Orlin trained, a New Hampshire-bred Holstein steer named Pum. Although the clan seems pretty confident about their trek through a large swath of the state, some challenges remain:

--Their cart, which Orlin built, will also use an axle that is more than 100 years old. This seems like a questionable plan, as his own Web site mentions that in the olden time, it was routine for a cart to break six axles on a single voyage. -- Orlin also writes that, since both cart axles are ungreased, the squealing they create is constant and unbearable. -- Can you imagine the moaning and groaning from kids on the trip? 'Are we there yet?!' NO! We still have 30 more days of walking! 'The ox smells bad!' Roll down the... uh... wait for for a breeze. -- Perhaps the largest obstacle they face, though, is getting enough supplies for the trip. The Ostbys didn't get any grant money for their voyage, and despite some sponsorship, are at risk of coming up short on supplies and funds. They're accepting donations through their Web site.

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