peter burr folks
Dave Holland said, “Go ahead and fish in the (Yellowstone) River”. Fishing permit lacking. His parcel abutted the old Gardiner / Mammoth pump house, he owned the pump house, and the pump house deed ran to the middle of the river. Fish & Game could pound sand, he declared. Sounds like he was looking for a showdown. Which never happened.
Dave is hooking another worm with Curt. Time moves forward. Again I find myself along the 45th Parallel, at Mammoth Hot Springs campground. Better equipped, this time. Spoiled, even.
Spoiled with the best headlamp in the world, the Surefire variable output LED. Guaranteed forever, practically indestructible. With a bulb life of several generations, this fine bit of engineering and craftsmanship has never failed.
Elk give me more room. Coyotes run from Man With Third Eye Glowing. A vintage copy of Dostoyevsky can be enjoyed long after ‘quiet time’ is enacted. A spattering of rain, wind in the trees, the distant Gardner River, and my reliable Surefire.
The VFW in Gardiner Montana greeted my first wearing of cowboy boots, borrowed from Pete. A memorable small-town wedding made unforgettable from a new vantage point, 2″ higher. A few decades later, horseback riding occasioned buying a pair of these useful boots.
Not until venturing into Saba’s to duck ovenlike temperatures of Scottsdale in August did my knowledge come full circle. Within this establishment resides the former general manager of Saba’s Western Wear, selling, educating, and enjoying the people who make up the boot chain’s success.
Three days a week the spry and smiling Jerry Hill brings it all together for hundreds of clients. His understanding of the American boot history, materials, tanning, construction, and especially fitting, make every browsing experience remarkable. Handmade vs handcrafted finally understood, my favorite boots are about the same price as a decent pair of Aldens. “Handcrafted means I had a machine assisting me in doing some things in building this boot … a handmade boot is unique in its own right.” Ask Jerry about lemonwood pegs, 1880s-style!
What is Saba’s known for? Fitting boots, shaping hats, and the quality of the merchandise. Shaping hats? Yes sir. The hat is easy to fit us if certain things are covered. A thumb high above my ear and a finger above my eyebrow. I don’t want to be Deputy Dawg but I don’t want it touching my ear either. And then across the eyebrow? That’s a cowboy thing, a little social thing. No man can see what I’m looking at unless I want him to see my eyes.
OUR WORK DONE, THE 6′ X 12′ U-Haul trailer safely delivered, unloaded, and returned, the American Road Trip continues northward, a streak of joyous abandon. No timetable, almost. Pick a road, any road. The plan? End up in Montana to visit a dying friend. A thousand miles of choices. I decided on less traveled US-89 for scenic beauty and history. Sometimes called the National Park Highway, U.S. 89 links seven national parks across the Mountain West.
I roll into Gardiner MT in a few days to Pete’s small ’30s bungalow tucked against Yellowstone. Found my friend almost blind and eating discount TV dinners but still defiant. No radio or TV, house not cleaned since his stroke 4 years ago. Naturally, I stayed in the extra room. What’s a little dirt among bachelors?
We consume mass quantities, like old times. A ’40s Victrola and a stack of wax from the ’20s thru ’50s made our reunion a party. No wimmin, and he was couch-bound, so I danced with the dog between cranking the Victrola or strumming the guitar. The 1930’s home was rocking to 1930’s music from a period Victrola. The memory will forever bring a tear to my eye.
Leave two days later over the Bear Tooth Highway at 7am; snow and clouds encountered but the view was tremendous. Tremendous! Bear Tooth Highway closes for the year on October 15th at the latest. Bet they close early this year.