I found a book I considered a treasure while working through America the Beautiful with my kids during the past school year. The Notgrass text set includes a book called We the People, which is a collection of letters, founding documents, speeches, poetry, and articles to go along with the history lessons. One of these was an excerpt from a book I'd never heard of - Adventures in the Rocky Mountains by Isabella Bird. The excerpt intrigued me and I was lucky enough to find a copy through the library.
Isabella Bird was a nineteenth-century writer and explorer, originally from England. She was often sick during her childhood, but her dream was to travel and explore. After time spent in Australia and Hawaii, she traveled to the newest territory in the United States, Colorado, partly because she had heard that the air and climate was especially good for those who suffered from health problems. In 1873 she covered over 800 miles in Colorado, dressed practically and riding her horse astride rather than sidesaddle. She wanted to see the mountains for herself, and was willing to take on all kinds of challenges to do it. It seems she rarely turned aside from a difficult ride or climb, and did a fair amount of her traveling and exploring unaccompanied! She must have been a courageous and fascinating lady!
The book is a compilation of letters and journal entries she wrote on this trip through the Rocky Mountains, and tells about her many adventures along the way, including her friendship with 'Rocky Mountain Jim', an outlaw with a past and reputation filled with violence. She describes him often as a desperado, yet treats him with respect and finds him to be a complete gentleman in all his dealings with her. Throughout the book, Bird describes her surroundings and the people she meets in detail, and tells of mishaps and the less-than-wonderful people and experiences with wry humor. Her detailed descriptions of the scenery are breathtaking and almost poetic.
I would recommend this book to go along with a history study of the American West, and it's probably a good read for young ladies interested in learning about courageous, independent women in history. Isabella Bird certainly fit that description!
|This map in the front cover of the book shows the southwestern states and territories at the time Isabella Bird was traveling through these regions.|
This post is linked at Every Bed of Roses for Tuesday's Treasures. Blog about a book on your shelf, one you're reading, or one you found at the library.
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