Camping & Tramping with Roosevelt

Today’s Post Topic: Reader’s Block  What’s the longest you’ve ever gone without reading a book (since learning how to read, of course)? Which book was it that helped break the dry spell?

After a year in Yellowstone, all I had read were technical scientific journals and historical documents.  When I tried to pick up an enjoyable read, I just felt burnt out.  All of my old favorites had lost their vigor: Kingsolver, King, Joan Rivers (and I love Joan Rivers).

One day I was skimming through the work library looking for information on aspen recovery to use in an upcoming program.  A small book grabbed my eye, “Camping and Tramping with Roosevelt.”  Written by naturalist John Burroughs on Roosevelt’s 1903 visit to Yellowstone country.  I picked it up and read it right there.  And then read it again.  I’ve gone on a vacation this weekend, and I brought it to read again.

There is something in the way Burroughs writes about their visit that is light and satisfying.  He puts on no airs.  They were bored by the thermal areas.  He was nervous about skiing and that he couldn’t keep up while hiking.  And yet his account of Roosevelt’s curiosity and propensity toward adventure was invigorating.


My favorite quote:

In front of the hotel were some low hills separated by gentle valleys. At the President’s suggestion, he and I raced on our skis down those inclines. We had only to stand up straight, and let gravity do the rest. As we were going swiftly down the side of one of the hills, I saw out of the corner of my eye the President taking a header into the snow. The snow had given way beneath him, and nothing could save him from taking the plunge. I don’t know whether I called out, or only thought, something about the downfall of the administration. At any rate, the administration was down, and pretty well buried, but it was quickly on its feet again, shaking off the snow with a boy’s laughter. I kept straight on, and very soon the laugh was on me, for the treacherous snow sank beneath me, and I took a header, too.

“Who is laughing now, Oom John?” called out the President.

The spirit of the boy was in the air that day about the Cañon of the Yellowstone, and the biggest boy of us all was President Roosevelt.

Find the whole text here:


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