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Out of Gas at South Pass

I am traveling north, and trying to use a different route than in the old days. What a relief it was to finally get out of Colorado, with its high speed drivers and tourist hordes! But I didn't let them bully me.

Wyoming: so much of it is rather ugly and barren. And the wind blows worse than in New Mexico!

There are historical markers around the North Platte River that got me thinking about South Pass, WY, where the old Emigrant (wagon) Trails crossed the continental divide, just south of the Wind River mountain range in Wyoming. 


It's funny how many classic television westerns I have watched as sleeping pills, at night. But have they ever mentioned South Pass and the Sweetwater River? Just think of all those miles across the Great Plains, with a continuous track of water right to the continental divide at South Pass! What a piece of geographical luck!

I camped at South Pass. The gasoline gauge was getting low. There I was, experiencing a tiny bit of the supply-problem that the wagon-trainers had to be deadly serious about.

But it was just enough of a problem to fire the imagination. You could make fun of this as exaggeration. But what chance does a travel experience have of being meaningful unless there is some real effort at imagination? 

(And what luck it was to be reading David Anthony's "The Horse, the Wheel, and Language" at just the right time!) 

Actually the scenery was excellent at South Pass. I was afraid it would be barely noticeable, as the continental divide is in a couple places in New Mexico.

The Sweetwater River runs parallel to the Divide at South Pass, rather than perpendicular, as I expected. Thus the river has a good flow of water.

Back to imagination in travelers: you would think that non-fiction readers like me would tend to de-emphasize imagination; and that modern, secular, philosophically-materialist people would, as well.

They might say, "Let's stick to reality, and stay away from fanciful mythological thinking." But the entire idea of travel is fanciful -- it is imbued throughout with romantic escapism; except that these notions for most people are just the cliche expectations manufactured by the tourism industry. 


William said…
KB, I'm looking forward to your posts about your summer travels and how you experience non-Southwest landscapes and cultures.

How long has it been since you last traveled to the Northwest?
William, it has been a dozen years
And I am so sick of the color brown, I could almost puke.
Anonymous said…
And how 'bout a review of "The Horse, the Wheel, and Language". I've heard Kevin Stroud promote it and am thinking of reading it.

Chris, I like about half the book, but the archaeology chapters are boring. Of course, it is an important science, and their skills are impressive. But it is hard, if not impossible, to make those potsherds and grave-robbing details interesting to the general reader.