I took the donate button out of my Appeal post after getting enough to make the trip. The generosity of the FTB community has been overwhelming — thank you all for the kind words, well wishes, and donations! Special thanks to Greta Christina and PZ Myers for telling their readership about this post.
I have a flight to Los Angeles at 5:30 a.m. I’ll drive from there to the Eastern Sierra, where my Dad lives. I don’t know how many days I’ll be there. I’ll keep you all informed as much as I can while away, but I’ll be on borrowed (or library) computers, so updates may be erratic.
The last word I had was that he was “stable,” whatever that means, but other things that came into the conversation included “heart,” “internal organs,” “sepsis” and “sedated.”
It’s a 5 hour drive from Los Angeles, but I should arrive at the hospital by late tomorrow.
I feel like I should say more, so I’ll add this:
I know one reader here knows the Old Ranger — whom I named “Charley” in the “Charley & Me” posts (I was worried about privacy at the time), but whose real name is Dan.
I wish you all could have met him. You’ll see me write about my dog Tito here occasionally, whom I describe as “the best dog I ever even met.” Dan is easily one of the best and most interesting MEN I ever even met.
For decades I toyed with the idea of writing a book about him. If I’d done it right, it would have been something like Scottish veterinarian James Herriot’s “All Creatures Great and Small” — a narrative of the feisty, adventurous, funny and warm stories of Dan’s years as a mule packer and wilderness guide, with glowing descriptions of Dan himself and the human and animal characters who intersected his life, and he would have ended up as something of a legend.
This was a man in the midst of the computer age who spent half the year — every year for 50 years — literally in the saddle and in the wilderness, guiding visitors on memorable mountain sojourns. He was the human gateway for so many people, me included, into the wilderness, and he never tired of teaching his guests about what wilderness is and what it means.
The pic above is from about 1980 or so, and shows Dan sitting atop his favorite guide horse, a Morgan mare named Belle Starr who had the sweetest, smoothest gait of any horse I ever rode.
Handsome as a coyote, smart as a raven, strong as a black bear, tough as a range stallion, cantankerous (sometimes!) as a tired mule, Dan is a rare character, and someone I was lucky to meet.