A Book Makes Dave Feel Emotions

I thought once we left the Southwest, I would quit reading The Lost World of the Old Ones: Discoveries in the Ancient Southwest but none of my other books came up on my library queue, so I decided to finish, and it was well worth it; I learned that the Anasazi (Ancestral Pueblo, if you want to be politically correct) didn't disappear because of an apocalyptic drought-- there was a drought, but they started leaving before that, and usually with environmental catastrophe, everyone doesn't leave-- there are always a few stragglers that remain and eke out a living, so this was a political or religious migration that cleared out these cliff dwellings and granaries and high mesa redoubts, because by 1300, the area was completely empty of human habitation and life, and that just doesn't happen . . . and so there are plenty of theories of what political/religious movement drove the migration, but none are rock-solid . . . this information may be lost in time, because it's abstract . . . I also learned about the Comanche transformation, which is a real Cinderella-story, an underdog achievement worthy of the scrubs in Hoosiers: at the start of the colonial era, the Comanches were "horseless hunter-gatherers living in small camps scattered around northern Colorado and Wyoming . . . by the end of the seventeenth century they had become the most skillful equestrians warriors and long-distance traders in North America," with a domain that stretched from Canada to northern Mexico . . . so though they've been portrayed as merciless barbarian raiders, that wasn't the case until they met several defeats at the hands of the U.S. Army forces in 1875 . . . but enough of this, what the book made me feel, unfortunately, was jealousy and regret; when I was young, I dreamed of becoming a paleontologist and trekking through the Gobi Desert in search of dinosaur bones, but then I learned that paleontology is not all fun and bones, but David Roberts figured out how to live a life that combined the best elements of adventure, writing, climbing, history, archaeology, and epic journeys-- and while he's stayed out of the academic world, he interviews the people in it, and compiles their theories for the layman and, by the end of the book, after reading about all his hikes, his overnight camping trips and raft voyages, his access to secret sites and petroglyphs in our country, all this made me profoundly jealous, which I'm not proud of, because I have a fantastic life-- full of family, sport, and adventure-- but I know that I'll never get to travel all the trails and paths through the American Southwest that he did, and-- in fact-- that I may not get out there for another decade, instead I'll be hacking my way through humidity and poison-ivy, and instead of petroglyphs, I'll be looking at spray painted tags, which someday, in some far apocalyptic future, might prove to be just as evocative and obscure as the ancient rock etchings scattered through the Four Corners region, but I'll be long dead by then (which makes me want to start doing some graffiti art!)

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