I’m beginning to get some events scheduled to promote my new book, Historic Adventures on the Colorado Plateau.

Colo Plateau.jpgThe next one is a radio interview with Coach on KAFM Grand Junction, set for 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, May 29. I’m looking forward to that.

Then I’ll be at Grand Valley Books beginning at 6:30 p.m. May 30 for a presentation and book signing. The events there are always fun and seem to draw good crowds.

I’ll have more next week.


Bear Dance

Judy and I went to Fort Duchesne, Utah, last weekend, where I hoped to take photos of the Ute Tribe’s spring Bear Dance for the Museums of Western Colorado.IMG_0297

The people gathered at the Bear Dance arena were incredibly courteous and helpful when I asked if I could take photos. They did require, however, that Judy and I join them and participate in the dance.

In this annual gathering, dance partners are always chosen by the females, and, as I learned, the woman can never ask her husband, son or brother to dance. It has to be someone outside the immediate family circle.

The music is provided by singers, who also set the rhythm and tone by rubbing tubes across notched pieces of wood that mimics the sound of a bear growling or scratching his claws on a tree.. This group of singers are from Towaoc, Colorado and White Mesa, Utah. They were friendly, helpful, and allowed me to wander behind them to take photos.


The Bear Dance is an incredible social event, where everyone is polite and abides by the rules established by long tradition. In past times, it was a chance for courtship and to reconnect with friends and relatives not seen all winter.

Thanks to all the Utes who treated us with so much generosity during the Bear Dance this past weekend. And here’s a big white guy, dancing poorly.

bob dance


Cavalry Remount Service

Last fall, Judy and I visited Fort Robinson in northwestern Nebraska, which was home to one of the largest of the U.S. Army’s Remount Service sites during the first half of the 20th century.

Army Remount Fort Reno

Fort Robinson also had direct connections to the Remount Service efforts in Colorado, which led me to writing this history column for The Daily Sentinel.

Army remounts 4-23-18

Coming (real) soon

My new book, Historic Adventures on the Colorado Plateau,

will be published May 28 by the History Press, and will be available in bookstores in June. I already have one book-signing scheduled for June 2, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Barnes & Noble in Grand Junction.

Coming SoonThe book is a compilation of articles, based on history columns I have written for The Daily Sentinel over the past five years. All are in some way related to the historic difficulty of traveling on the rugged Colorado Plateau.

History and Horses

cropped-plaque3.jpgDavit Bek was an 18th century Armenian leader.

In 1722, he led Armenian forces in a successful fight against Muslims who controlled the region at the time. I picked up this plaque, which is based on a monument to Bek, when I was in Armenia in 1983. Later, I learned more about Bek and his exploits.

I chose this as the image for my business cards, and now for this web site because I really like the combination of history and horses it displays. Also, I love jumping on horses, and this image represents that. Plus it is so filled with energy, it seems like Bek and his horse will just gallop on.

Horses as aristocrats

“One does not incarcerate aristocrats. It is enough to remind them of their word of honour.”

German author Ulrich Raulff explaining why “No farmer would consider surrounding his horses’ meadow with the barbed wire which was often used to enclose sheep and cattle.” A bit of wood or electric fence is sufficient to keep horses at home, he said.

Farewell horse

Raulff spent part of his youth growing up on his grandfather’s farm, where horses were still employed for much of the field work, and his appreciation of equines is evident from the beginning of his new book.

He has written an engrossing account of the final years of the horse as mankind’s primary source of power for transportation, war and industry, and our most important animal companion for more than 6,000 years.

I have just begun reading it. Raulff  has done tremendous research on the history of the horse, particularly in the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. His narrative moves quickly and is easy to read, despite the many statistics included.

The book is to be released in the United States next month. Thanks to Ann and Richie at The Daily Sentinel for getting me an advance copy.

Book Shopping

I’m trying to purchase some books for a 14-year-old granddaughter, but it’s no easy task.

She is an avid reader, and has already read the entire Sherlock Holmes series written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, something I didn’t accomplish until I was a few years older.

I want to get her something she will enjoy, not some “young adult” book that’s really meant for someone much younger.Hammett2

But many adult detective books contain material that’s inappropriate for a 14-year-old, or inappropriate for a granddad to give to a 14-year-old — explicit sex, excessive violence, detailed drug use, that sort of thing.

But I don’t want to just get her a gift card for books. Reading is one of the great joys of my life, and I want to share a bit of that with her.

My solution, I think, will be to go with something old and something new.

I have long been a Dashiell Hammett fan, and because his mystery books were written in the 1920s and 1930s, they aren’t as explicit as modern suspense books. There is some troubling language that’s not politically correct today, and excessive cigarette smoking. Still, he was a great writer, and basically created the genre with the tough-guy detective.

The second is a book called “This is our Story,” which a 17-year-old avid reader friend recommended to me. It is “young adult,” but in the upper end of that range. And it has gotten great reviews.

We’ll see how it all turns out.

Spanish Flu

My siblings and I just finished reading “The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History.”

It’s a fascinating story of what was in 1918 and 1919 called the Spanish Flu, even though it didn’t start in Spain. It may have killed more than 100 million people worldwide, and the medical efforts to understand and contain it were truly historic.influenza cover

My new book

I guess this falls in the shameless self-promotion category.

I just today received the mockup of the cover for my book, to be published by The History Press next spring (February or March). I’m pretty pleased with it.

Also, on Saturday I will be at the Museum of Western Colorado in Grand Junction, along with a dozen other authors, signing copies of my existing books, Troubled Trails and Dinosaur Stalkers.

History book cover 2

Into the Alaskan wild (with a daughter)

A friend loaned me this book, “Braving It,” about a father-daughter trek into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

brave1It’s well-written, engaging, and it makes this father wonder how he would have fared with his daughter when she was 15. (My daughter, Kara, is now 33 and a much more competent back-country traveler than I am. But when she was 15, not so much).

In addition, James Campbell and his daughter Aidan are from Lodi, Wisconsin, near where Judy and I grew up. So it provides a sense of connection.