Monday, January 19, 2009

Great Fun

.. A bit of a good read. Traveling on the train, the Badlands, a couple of weeks in Yellowstone, and leave the secret service in Gardiner: good work if you can get it.
.. Just good fun! John Burroughs' trip to Yellowstone with his buddy Ted in the Spring of 1903. It's all about touring and not a single mention of "The Arch." Published in 1906 in The Atlantic.
We spent two weeks in the Park, and had fair weather, bright, crisp days, and clear, freezing nights. The first week we occupied three camps that had been prepared, or partly prepared, for us in the northeast corner of the Park, in the region drained by the Gardiner River, where there was but little snow, and which we reached on horseback.

The cougars, or mountain lions, in the Park certainly needed killing. The superintendent reported that he had seen where they had slain nineteen elk, and we saw where they had killed a deer, and dragged its body across the trail. Of course, the President would not now on his hunting trips shoot an elk or a deer except to "keep the camp in meat," and for this purpose it is as legitimate as to slay a sheep or a steer for the table at home.

It is curious how certain things go to the bad in the Far West, or a certain proportion of them,—bad lands, bad horses, and bad men. And it is a degree of badness that the East has no conception of:—land that looks as raw and unnatural as if time had never laid its shaping and softening hand upon it; horses that, when mounted, put their heads to the ground and their heels in the air, and, squealing defiantly, resort to the most diabolically ingenious tricks to shake off or to kill their riders; and men who amuse themselves in barrooms by shooting about the feet of a "tenderfoot" to make him dance, or who ride along the street and shoot at everyone in sight. Just as old plutonic fires come to the surface out there in the Rockies, and hint very strongly of the infernal regions, so a kind satanic element in men and animals—an underlying devilishness—crops out, and we have the border ruffian and the bucking broncho.

One night in camp he told us the story of one of his Rough Riders who had just written him from some place in Arizona. The Rough Riders, wherever they are now, look to him in time of trouble. This one had come to grief in Arizona. He was in jail. So he wrote the President, and his letter ran something like this:—
'DEAR COLONEL,—I am in trouble. I shot a lady in the eye, but I did not intend to hit the lady, I was shooting at my wife.'

.. Want to know more about John Burroughs? CLICK HERE.