Sacagawea and Baby Jean Baptist
Sculpture by Glenna Goodacre (b. 1931), Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody, WY
The Wild West is a place of legends and stories…
Few are more moving than that of Sacagawea (Bird Woman), the Lemhi Shoshone woman, kidnapped in 1800 by a raiding party of Hidatsa when she was about 12, and a year later, given or sold, along with another young captive Shoshone girl, to Toussaint Charbonneau, a French Canadian trapper. Thirty-four year old Charbonneau was hardly a prime catch: six years earlier he had been stabbed by an old Saultier woman for raping her daughter.
In 1804, Lewis and Clark hired Charbonneau as an interpreter for their expedition to explore the Western United States, because Shoshone-speaking Sacagawea was part of the deal. She gave birth to her first child, Jean Baptist, February 11, 1805, before the expedition set off, and the child travelled with her across the country. “Meriwether Lewis called [Charbonneau] ”a man of no peculiar merit”.” Sacagawea, on the other hand, so impressed Lewis and Clark when she rescued their journals, records and other materials from the Missouri River after a boat capsized, that they named the Sacagawea River in her honour.
In American popular history, Sacagawea is an integral part of the Lewis and Clark story: in the early twentieth century, the National American Woman Suffrage Association adopted her as a symbol of women’s worth and independence; in 2000, the United States Mint issued the Sacagawea dollar coin in her honour; and in 2001, then-president Bill Clinton gave her the title of Honorary Sergeant, Regular Army.
I suppose if I were an American, I’d have know more about Sacagawea before visiting Wyoming – in the Wild West, the place of legends and stories…
Watch for Fallen Rock
The road out of Yellowstone National Park and into the rest of Wyoming lead us through a magnificent rocky landscape.
Like a scene out of a Western movie, rocky outcrops overwhelm the road. We have arrived in frontier country.
We found a motel in Cody, Wyoming, and parked our little sedan next to the Harley Davidson motorcycles and Mack trucks in the car park. Taking the desk clerk’s advice on eateries, we headed down the road to Cassie’s Roadhouse, a typically western-looking bar with a cowboy on a bucking bronco in neon over the front door… and a huge parrot on the sign over the drive-in entry.
Here we learned about another woman who managed to succeed against the odds. Cassie Welsh moved to Cody with her father and married a local engineer in 1907. He died shortly thereafter, so she opened a “Ladies of the Night” house in central Cody. She later moved to the current Roadhouse on the West Strip, where she owned and ran the genteely-named Cassie’s Supper Club until her death in 1952. She is fondly remembered locally as “a lovely lady who always helped people”.
The parrot became a trademark of the next owners, who had brought two live birds from Brazil – as one does.
The restaurant was full when we arrived, and rather than wait we decided to sit in the bar, next to the wooden dance floor where two couples were about to practice. I thought we might be up for some line-dancing or a country two-step, but no! On Tuesdays, the local dance champion and instructor gives free lessons; next thing we knew, we were brushing up our cha cha. In Wild West Cody!
It was far too much fun, and we never made it to the city’s nightly rodeo.
The next morning, we allocated some time to visit the Buffalo Bill Historical Center.
Not enough time, as it turns out. It is for good reason that the entry ticket is valid for two days: the complex of five museums in one building has been described by The New York Times as “among the nation’s most remarkable museums.” (Edward Rothstein, New York Times, August 3, 2012).
We entered the Buffalo Bill Historical Center through the Draper Museum of Natural History which depicts various aspects of the Greater Yellowstone area. We found it fascinating after having just been in the National Park itself.
Enter the ultimate Wild West legend: Buffalo Bill Cody, a name synonymous with the history of the American West.
He was born William Frederick Cody in 1846, of Quaker parents. From 1853, his family lived in Kansas, where they were regularly persecuted for their outspoken anti-slavery stance. When Cody was 11, he became the main breadwinner after his father died of complications from injuries inflicted by a pro-slavery supporter. He worked, first as a ”boy extra” – a message runner – for a freight carrier, then as a scout during the Utah War, where he gained his reputation as a an “Indian fighter”.
Cody’s colourful career is a mix of fact and “spin”. He earned his “Buffalo Bill” nickname by killing 4,280 American Bison in only 18 months (1867–1868) while he was contracted to the Kansas Pacific Railroad to supply them with meat for their workers. Not long after, Ned Buntline’s serialised stories and dime-novels turned a loosely fictionalised version of “Buffalo Bill” into a national folk hero.
By age 26, Cody had been awarded a Medal of Honor for “gallantry in action” while serving as a civilian scout. The same year, he made his stage debut in The Scouts of the Prairie, one of Buntline’s original Wild West shows. During the 1873–1874 season, ”Wild Bill” Hickok joined Cody and “Texas” Omohundro in a new play called Scouts of the Plains.
Ten years later Cody founded his own “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West” show, which was staged, in one form or another, across the US and in Europe until 1908. Looking through the exhibits and memorabilia, I was amazed at the breadth and depth of performers he engaged. Fancy riders from all over the world; Western figures whose names I recognised, like Calamity Jane and Annie Oakley; Native Americans like Sitting Bull. Buffalo Bill’s troupe was successful at popularising “The West” in the US and Europe, making his persona an American icon and an international celebrity.
Like other figures who are larger than life, Cody’s legacy is a mixed one. Although responsible for thousands of buffalo deaths, he actively supported conservation, spoke out against hide-hunting, and pushed for a regulated hunting season. He was known as an “Indian fighter” but he respected Native Americans and their rights. He is quoted as saying: “Every Indian outbreak that I have ever known has resulted from broken promises and broken treaties by the government.” He was castigated as a drunkard, a fraud, a bad businessman and a racist. But while he made and lost fortunes, he was generous to a fault. He supported women’s rights and payed them, and the Native Americans and foreign nationals in his traveling show, according to merit, not race or gender.
He died in 1917, a Western legend – but almost broke.
The city of Cody, and it’s wonderful museum, is only a small part of his contribution to the American West.
Long hair, to protect the eyes and ears; long coat for warmth; and long rifles for more accurate, powerful shots at enemy or game.
Hon. W.F. Cody Uniform and Saddle
“The Buffalo Bill Combination”
Western showmanship: Props from one of Buffalo Bill’s shows.
Annie Oakley’s Gloves
Costume from one of “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West” shows.
View inside an American Army Scout’s base-camp tent, Buffalo Bill Historical Center.
Smaller tents were used for scouting forays.
Cody called Native Americans: “the former foe, present friend, the American”.
The Plains Indian Museum section of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center depicts the history and culture of Native Americans, while highlighting their place in modern America.
Dog Soldier Feather Bonnet
Visitors examine the exhibits in the Plains Indian Museum section of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center.
Plains Indian Tent
Ancient “New World” Corns
Beaded Papoose Carriers
A Plains woman on horseback, with a travois.
Cowrie-Shell Embellished Dress
Quill working, hide painting and bead working demonstrated women’s skills, and their pride and love for their families.
Fury ~ Man and Horse
The sculpture of a very dapper Bill Cody outside the Buffalo Bill Historical Center bids us good-bye.
Another enduring symbol of the American West…
Reluctantly, after a great lunch in the cafeteria, we set off, out of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, out of Cody, and east – out of Wyoming…
Wyoming Prairies and Mesa
Highway I-14 East
The low point, before the rise into the Bighorn Mountains.
Into a Snow Cloud
The road through the Bighorn Mountains disappears… Middle of summer, but they say it’s going to snow tonight!
We stopped at a forlorn off-season mountain resort before descending the other side of the Bighorn Mountains. When we finally managed to attract some service, our waitress rued the “miserable climate” and the likelihood of summer snow. She was fed-up, homesick and California dreaming…
The Wild West is not for everyone.
‘Till next time!
One of Ireland’s longest beaches: from Cloghane Village to the Maharees and Castlegregory.
It was day nine of our walk around the Dingle Peninsula last June, and once again we woke up to rain.
Soft, misty, Irish rain – but coat-soaking, bone-chilling, camera-splattering rain even so. Not my idea of beach weather! My walking boots were still wet from crossing bogs the day before, so the overcast skies had me feeling less than cheerful.
According to our trip notes, we were up for a 29 kilometre walk, with 11 kilometres of it (or 11 miles – depending on whom you believe) along Castlegregory Beach. In the rain.
Day 9: Cloghane to Castlegregory
A long but not a demanding day, dominated by Irelands longest beach, with fantastic views of both sea and mountains and the off shore Maharees Islands.
Local birds include seabirds (several species of seagull, shags, cormorants, gannets to name but a few), larks, starlings, curlews, crows, ravens, garden birds such as sparrows, robins and finches, and wading birds such as the heron. The swallow is a frequent visitor in the summer months, all to be seen on this walk.
Distance: 29 km/18 miles, Ascent: 40m/120 ft
Everything was fresh – and wet – as we set out on our walk from Cloghane, Ireland.
One small patch of blue beckons us as we start our traverse along the beach skirting Brandon Bay.
Wind whips up the wet sand over the creatures stranded by the last high tide.
Two hours into our walk, the skies start to clear, lifting our moods, and completely changing the colour of the landscape.
Gull Taking Off
Large European Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus) congregated in groups at the water’s edge.
Seagull in Flight
Seagulls in the Surf
A Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus) wades at the water’s edge.
A lot of our walk was past dunes covered in hardy marram grass.
A Tuft of Grass
European Marram Grass or Beachgrass (Ammophila arenaria) clings to the windy sand-scape.
Nature’s Still-Life: Pebble Drift
As we approach the north end of the beach, black clouds roll in …
… slanting the light low over the dunes …
… and darkening the skies over the hamlet of Fahamore (An Faiche Mór or “the large green”).
Eurasian Oystercatchers (Haematopus ostralegus) are meant to be common in this area; these were the first we saw.
Young people in their wetsuits seem unconcerned about the incoming clouds.
Once we reached the little hamlet of Fahamore (An Faiche Mór) at the north end of Brandon Bay, we took a break at the charming – and apparently “famous” - Spillane’s Bar & Restaurant. We were more than ready for a late lunch and early libation: there is nothing like a little stroll in the sea air to sharpen the appetite!
The next stretch of walking took us across Scraggane Bay, then back south along Tralee Bay towards Castlegregory.
Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii)
Boats on Scraggane Bay
A small fleet of fishing boats, netting European lobster, spiny lobster or crayfish, spider crab, edible crab, and Atlantic salmon, keeps this area alive.
The other economic mainstay is farming: mostly root vegetables, which love the sandy soil.
A young bull watches us pass.
Like a Commercial!
It must be dinner time: the horse seems to be racing the car across the Maharees Peninsula.
The crumbling graveyard at Kilshannig includes an ancient (seventh century) cross slab.
The beach on the east of the Maharees Peninsula, along Tralee Bay, is covered in sharp rocks.
Traps for lobster or crayfish are scattered around Tralee Bay.
The overcast had lowered again and the skies were almost dark by the time we stumbled into Castlegregory, our home for the night.
It had been, as our trip-notes had promised, a “long but not a demanding day”: a wonderful walk with some great scenery.
So, I was happy: my camera chips were full… and my boots were finally dry.
Into the Woods
It’s a pleasant walk around the grounds of Westminster Abbey, Mission, BC.
Kermit the Frog lamented on the difficulties of being green.
It’s not that easy bein’ green
Having to spend each day the color of the leaves
When I think it could be nicer being red or yellow or gold
Or something much more colorful like that
It’s not easy bein’ green
It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things
And people tend to pass you over ’cause you’re
Not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water
Or stars in the sky
It may not be easy being green, but I always feel better when I am surrounded by it.
During our too-brief stay in some smaller communities in Canada’s forested and green British Columbia last July, we took advantage of the wilds on our doorsteps, and walked out into the woods whenever we could.
While staying in Mission, a small city on the north bank of the Fraser River, about 60km inland from Vancouver, we visited the nearby Benedictine monastery of Westminster Abbey.
Westminster Abbey, Mission, BC
The order was established in 1939, and construction of the abbey, church, and seminary, all designed by Norwegian architect, Asbjørn Gåtheat, started at this site in 1953. The monks took up residence the next year.
During the school term, the Abbey is home to the only Anglophone high school seminary in Canada and a college degree program. While we were there, however, the church was padlocked tight, and the grounds were quiet. We saw one small group of visiting religious – perhaps escorted by one of the 30 resident monks.
A damp climate with plenty of dark, green places, means slugs can usually be found.
The abbey grounds provide a commanding view up the Fraser River Valley.
A group of visitors inspect some of the grounds’ 70 hectares.
From the Abby, it is not far to Rolley Lake Provincial Park, which – in the words of their own website – “provides a quick escape from urban life”.
Lakeside Loop, around Rolley Lake, provided us with with a delightful walk through more green…
A boardwalk section of the Lakeside Loop skirts over wetlands.
Once Were Woods…
Anything could be lurking – it’s like something out of a Brothers Grimm fairy tale!
If you get lost, just remember that moss grows denser on the north side of trees.
Woods and Clear Waters
Tumbling White Waters
Rolley Lake is a popular kayaking, swimming and fishing spot.
A few days later, we had the chance to wander some of the seven kilometres of trails that criss-cross Cliff Gilker Park in Roberts Creek, on BC’s Sechelt Peninsula. We walked well-maintained spongy trails through Douglas Fir and Red Cedar trees, climbed stairs, clambered over rocks and crossed charming bridges over Clack and Roberts Creeks.
Small Waterfall, Cliff Gilker Park
Spanish Moss on Lowered Branches
Textures: The Bark of a Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
Small Red Berries
Salmonberry – Rubus spectabilis
Even the Mighty Fall!
Cedar and fir both have beautifully straight, tall tree trunks.
Fallen Log and Water Falling
Thanks to Joe Raposo‘s lyrics, Kermit comes to grips with being green:
But green’s the color of Spring
And green can be cool and friendly-like
And green can be big like an ocean
Or important like a mountain
Or tall like a tree
When green is all there is to be
It could make you wonder why
But why wonder, why wonder?
I am green and it’ll do fine
And I think it’s what I want to be!
I’m glad – because I love it.
Photos: 25July 2012 and 28July2012
Mahagandayon Monastery, Amarapura
It is a different world…
Temples and monasteries are an integral part of life in Myanmar. They accommodate about half a million males, who are either vocational monks or novices, and around 50,000 nuns. That is: roughly one percent of the population actually lives in one of the many monasteries or nunneries, completely dependent on the laity for all their material needs.
Theravada Buddhist monastic life has a strict daily routine revolving around prayers and religious study, but it is the silent alms-rounds (e.g. Sangkhlaburi, Chiang Rai, and Luang Prabang) and the mealtimes (e.g. Lining up for Lunch) that fascinate outsiders and which provide such rich photographic opportunities.
The Morning Shave
Being a “tourist attraction” is a dilemma for monastic institutions: while having visitors contributes to their financial well-being, and promotes cultural understanding, it can be disruptive. ‘Boundaries’ are different between cultures, and many tourists seem to be unaware (or to deliberately ignore) local expectations of behaviour within sacred grounds.
Mahagandayon Monastery in Amarapura, outside Mandalay is on just about every Burmese travel-agent’s itinerary. Founded around 1914, it is one of the largest teaching monasteries in Myanmar, and home to up to 2000 monks at any given time.
The common areas of Mahagandayon Monastery are quite open, but visitors are clearly instructed which parts are out-of-bounds to them: an injunction that more than one tourist, unfortunately, ignores. Daily, tourists descend mid-morning to watch the resident monks line up silently and systematically for their lunch – their last meal of the day.
Start of the Lunch Lines
Young monks line up for lunch.
Young Monk Waiting
Best Foot Forward
Bare feet on the wet walkways of Mahagandayon Monastery.
Lines Moving into Lunch
Because visitors cannot be relied upon not to disturb the monks during their silent mealtime, they are no longer allowed inside the dining hall. So I, my nine photo-group companions, our leader Karl Grobl, and our guide Mr MM, remained outside, in the rainy streets and alleys of the monastery while the the monks ate in peace.
Once they finished eating, they filed out and commenced cleaning up.
Lunchroom, Mahagandayon Monastery
Greeting Visitors and Pilgrims
Visitors and pilgrims to Mahagandayon Monastery come from all over.
Monk Talking to a Visitor
Many of the monks at the monastery were articulate in English, and outspoken about their country’s history and politics.
Cross Cultural Discussions
Monk in a Lane Way
From a balcony, a monk watches the visitors below.
Indigent people wait…
Alms for the Poor
… until the monks give them leftovers.
We left the monks and the Mahagandayon Monastery to get our own lunch in Sagaing, southwest of Mandalay. Above the Ayeyarwady River, the Sagaing Hills are dotted with monasteries and nunneries; we stopped at one nunnery, where the women were busy preparing food for the next day: for themselves and for the neighbouring monks.
Three Nuns, Sagaing Hill
Even though their last meal of the day is before noon, preparation for the next day’s meal starts early.
The nunnery is full of laughter.
The women have a natural beauty.
Work is easy when you have a friend to laugh and gossip with.
An older nun smiles at a kitchen doorway.
Another nun collects water.
Even though washing-up conditions are a bit rough, everything looks spotless.
It is a different world.
Structured. Ordered. With a time and place for everything.
But, there is always acceptance and a welcome for outsiders, and there is always time for a smile and a laugh.
It’s a pretty good world, really, and I hope future visitors show it the respect it deserves, lest we not be invited back.
Avenue Jean Jaures
Nîmes gets its name from Nemausus, a Celtic god who was worshiped at the local spring. Les Quais de la Fontaine, the embankments of the spring, were laid out in the 1700s.
It’s autumn in Australia at the moment, which makes me think of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Defies logic, I know, but there is something about the freshness of the air this change-of-season that has me humming: “I love Paris in the springtime…” and thinking of my last time in France, back in the spring of 2011, which is when we stopped for a day in Nîmes.
I’d been to Nîmes before: while I was a University student in Western Canada, I spent a summer working for friends who had bought an Auberge (country inn) in Gard, just outside this ancient southern city. I remembered it for it’s well-preserved Roman ruins, it’s cicadas, and its dry, shimmering heat.
I also remember it’s preoccupation with bulls.
Toro Miura qui Possede un Coeur ~ Miura Bull who Has a Heart
That summer in Gard was the first (and only) time-and-place I attended a bull fight. Not the ‘glamourous’ Spanish fights with fancy toreadors in tight black pants, sparkly gold boleros, and red capes; no – more a ‘rodeo’ variety in a make-shift pen, with bull-fighters with pink and yellow capes that reminded me of cheap raincoats.
Bull Ring ~ Scanned photographs from a rustic bullfight near Nîmes, south of France, 1979.
It was a very long time ago, and I was keen to see if the city could live up to my distant memories of it. We were on our way to the start of our second walk in the French Pyrenees, travelling south from the Auvergne, so Nîmes was the perfect place to stop over. I booked a room close to the train station, and we set out with a city map, for a walk.
Le Palais de Justice
Inspired by La Maison Carrée, the Nimes Law Courts were built between 1836-1846 by architect Gaston Bourdon.
Life in the Palazzo
Les Arènes de Nîmes
Nîmes’ elliptical amphitheatre, built around 70 AD, is the best-preserved Roman arena in France.
Port de France
Locals go about their business through one of the two remaining gates from the original Augustine ramparts.
Fresh paint and posters set off the old walls in the narrow streets.
L’Eglise St Paul
Decorated in Roman provençal style, St Paul’s Church was inaugurated in 1849. Following periods of change, Nîmes had become the major metropolis of Bas-Languedoc by the 19th Century.
La Maison Carrée
Built of local limestone by architects from Rome around 20 BCE, The Square House was designed by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, who was responsible for the Pantheon in Rome.
La Maison Carrée
The temple was originally dedicated to Gaius and Lucius, adopted sons of Augustus. It is one of the most beautiful and best preserved temples in the former Roman Empire.
Emperor Antonin (86 – 161)
Nîmes was part of the Roman empire from 118 BCE, and made a “colony” by Augustus in 27 BCE.
Avenue Jean Jaures
Leading into the Jardins de la Fontaine.
Jardins de la Fontaine ~ The Gardens of the Fountain
Built in the middle of the 18th century, the gardens effectively protect two major Roman ruins.
The trees in the garden are wearing their spring finery.
The gardens are home to ancient statues …
… and living art.
Temple de Diane
My favourite ruin, possibly because it is less well-preserved, is the Temple of Diana. Some say it was built as a sacred fountain dedicated to Nemausus during the time of Augustus. Others say it was built in the 2nd century as a library.
Inside the Temple
Temple of Diane
Fragments of delicately carved stonework remain.
Trees and bushes with these purple pea-like flowers were everywhere in the south.
La Tour Magne
It’s a short walk up the hill from the gardens to the La Tour Magne.
La Tour Magne ~ The Great Tower
Once part of the old ramparts.
The top storey has disappeared, but the tower still rises to a height of about 32m.
A climb up the insides of La Tour Magne afford a great view over the city.
The old olive tree and other vegetation at the base of the tower give an indication of the dry heat I remember so vividly from my earlier visit. Even though it was still spring, the day was hot and clear.
Les Arènes de Nîmes
During the Middle Ages, the arena was used as a fortress – a refuge for the population in case of danger. It was later filled with private houses, until the nineteenth century. Today, the amphitheatre is used for bullfights, music concerts. and other events.
Les Arènes de Nimes
Inside the corridors of the arena, it is easy to imagine the ancient battles. The lion’s cages, and a chapel for the gladiators are all here.
Modern “Bull Fight”
We were lucky enough to be visiting during one of the two annual bull festivals: “La Primavera des Aficionados” (Spring of the Fans). Julie Donzala demonstrates her skills.
There are the capes of my memory!
Fortunately, the only “bulls” we saw were papier-mâché and wood on wheels.
Young lads waiting for their turn with the “bulls”.
This horse is being dressed for it’s role as a picador in a fight with real bulls.
One of la cavalerie de Philippe Heyral.
It’s a quiet afternoon in the stands.
Nîmes was still hot. It was still preoccupied with bulls. And the Roman ruins were still fabulous.
I didn’t hear any cicadas, but it was only April…
It was good to be back.