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A favorite story
Random Thoughts, June 29
Random Thoughts by Wendell Smith

MUSCODA - Because of the many years involved perhaps it’s normal for an occasional person to ask if I have a favorite story among the many I have written? There have been many stories that may qualify as a “favorite.” However, at least near the top of the list is one that appeared in the June 11, 1981 issue of “The Progressive.”

It’s about an 8,500-mile trip made by two Highland men, John Benish and Manny McGuire. The men, along with four mules, a horse named “Dusty” and a border collie dog that answered to “Journey” made the trip.

On the first day, April 15, 1980, the travelers made it through Muscoda and camped across the river on the Ruth Thompson farm. But it was the Dakotas, the Tetons and Death Valley in California that were destinations. They were back home in Highland by early the following June to be welcomed by a special community celebration.

The exact number of miles traveled was not known because their odometer quit working somewhere in Kansas. The men estimated that by the time they reached home they had traveled more than 8,500 miles.

They were slow movers and along the way they were interviewed by 186 newspapers, 35 television stations, and 34 radio stations.

Such a trip had long been a dream of Benish as he heard and read about the early pioneers crossing the country in wagons, headed for California.

It was Death Valley where the men thought about calling it quits. Asked whether the trip was it worth it, Benish said, “You bet, I wouldn’t take a million dollars for our experience – but two million wouldn’t be enough for me to do it again!”

The men had a little help along the way. A farmer in Kansas gave the travelers a chicken hen and a rooster that helped – the hen layed an egg a day and the rooster crowed to awaken them each morning. Of course many folks were interested in the men and would stop to chat. Vi and I found the pair camped a short distance into Wisconsin on the way home and a number of cars stopped with folks who listened to our interview.

Perhaps my interest in the pair was fueled a bit by curiosity as some of my ancestors went west on the famous Oregon Trai