FLASH BACKS TO The Last Grand Adventure/ Training Burros
To get us lined out and headed in the right direction, I’ll explain some of the events preceding the journey.
The whole adventure began when I gave my wife, Carol, two gray donkeys (Beef and Bean) for her birthday. Because they were wild burros that had been used by a roper for roping practice: they were afraid of horses, people, and ropes. Carol fell in love with those two shaggy animals and quickly gentled them with grain and a curry comb. Where I had the job of out thinking and convincing them that what I wanted was their idea. Most people who don’t like donkeys: have been out smarted by one.
We were living in Furnace Creek Ranch in Death Valley, California at the time and one month after acquiring our two new friends Beef and Bean we took them out on a two-week pack trip into the Panamint Mountains of Death Valley National Monument. We had a great time exploring even though all did not go smoothly; Christmas Carol said: “let Beef follow us he will be GOOD.” Beef got away and went running and bucking away from us spewing our groceries and camp gear over a mile of terrain before we got him under control again.
We couldn’t let a few difficulties stop us. That trip hooked us into a whole new lifestyle. Carol had swallowed the adventure of living life “on the move” hook, line and sinker and we returned home to Furnace Creek Ranch in Death Valley hungering for more.
Four months later we were back in those same mountains again for a four month pack-trip. The best parts of the trip were exploring old mines and ghost towns, hiking three hundred miles over some of the loneliest country still on earth and meeting a few fun eccentrics.
Those were the best parts. The worst parts were having to hike through the awful heat of a Death Valley summer, Carol’s frightening bout with sunstroke, suffering through several dry camps without access to any water, and later being held-up by a rogue park ranger with a semi-automatic rifle. This government employee spent hours watching us burst in to camp with gun drawn flack jacket in place and screamed Park Police Who thought we were “Gun Runners.” With Burros? He asked “what are you doing” Having lunch would you like some?”: I said. Our government at work.
After those four months, we came out of the mountains as lean as wolves with a wild look about our eyes that frightened our friends. Carol gasped the first time she got a look at herself in a mirror and declared, “I look like I’ve just come out of a Nazi concentration camp! I don’t ever want to be this thin again – it’s horrible being so skinny and hollow-eyed!” Her friends thought we looked GREAT: “your so slim and trim may be I should try your Jackass Diet.”
Even though we had suffered, we weren’t about to give up on this new way of living we had discovered. It was too exciting. By the time Carol’s Birthday was coming again I had decided that to solve our problems we’d go to the Bureau of Land Management (B.L.M.) Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Corrals in Ridgecrest, California to get “just one more” birthday burro for Carol? so we could haul more water.
We ended up adopting four matched blacks (Rags, Chaps, Diz and Dean) that had been gentled by previous owners and used as a four-up in draft work. Carol was excited about the new additions to our little family and it wasn’t long before Carol was begging me to get her a wagon and harness so she could exercise all six at once.