I have seen many beautiful places in the world but there are many more such places I have not seen nor will I ever see in my lifetime. No one would, even by the stretch of the imagination, think of me as a world traveler. However of all the places I have been, The Badlands of North Dakota are my favorite landscape. The reason for this, I believe, is that as young farm girl the Badlands were my first experience of natures beautiful landscapes beyond our family farm on the flat prairie. While visiting there I had first become aware of the great man who started as a cowboy in the Badlands and went on, in my opinion, to become the greatest president our country has had up to this point.

Theodore was about 26 when he became a cowboy
I purchased this book and read it twice.

Theodore Roosevelt was an absolutely a one of a kind human being. He did more living in his life then another nine guys put together. Of all his amazing adventures when asked if he could relive one of them what would he do, his response was that he would relive his cowboy days in North Dakota. That surprises me because his ranching investment was a failure. The great snow of 1864 wiped him out. He lost his entire investment of $25,000.00 which was worth $846,831.33 by today’s value, when most of his cattle froze to death or starved during that one hard winter.

That hard winter of 1864 marked the beginning of the end of the wild west cowboy as we romanticize him in our stories and movies.

Roosevelt had so many adventures I won’t attempt to name them here. However, recently I have been enthralled again with his exploration of The River of Doubt, a previously untraveled and uncharted river in Brazil, an adventure that nearly cost him his life. A number of years ago I read, “The River of Doubt,” by Candice Millard. l love that book and for some reason longed to read it again now, which I did, throwing me into research mode. After his humiliating election defeat in 1912, Roosevelt set his sights on the first descent of an unmapped, rapids-choked tributary of the Amazon. Together with his son Kermit and Brazil’s most famous explorer, Cândido Mariano da Silva Rondon, Roosevelt accomplished a feat where by they changed the map of the western hemisphere forever.

Expedition leaders Roosevelt and Rondon
Most of the journey the dugout canoes needed to be portaged around horrendous rapids with great exertion.
At times the banks of the river were steep cliffs and the boats had to be lowered to the water on ropes. Other times the river was so narrow the rapids screamed through the rocks
Some tribes along the river were so primitive they wore no clothing and did not build protective dwelling but slept on the ground.
Kermit had just become betrothed and just wanted to get home having come on the trip at the request of his mother to keep his eye on Theodore.

Other than the endless rapids the insects drove the men and animals crazy. Theodore wore netting and gloves when he wrote in his travel journal. Venomous snakes were a problem as was a shortage of food causing near starvation to the expedition members.

At one point Theodore bagged a jaguar
Bathing was always precarious as piranha were in abundance and several men where bitten.
Between rapids the trip was pleasant
Having injured his leg, infection set in. Theodore nearly died and was 55 pounds lighter at the end. He was carried over land and lay prone in the canoe under an awning protected from the sun.
The Brazilian government changed the name of The River of Doubt to Rio Roosevelt
How could you not love the man for whom the Teddy Bear was named?

Interesting books I have read these past three weeks and a DVD:

Biography of T Roosevelt’s life
The Library of Congress has this complete book available on the computer, which I read.
I enjoyed this book so much I have read it twice, years ago and again recently,
An American Experience DVD

The Library of Congress also has a number of original videos of actual footage of this amazing adventure available. Some of which can be viewed on youtube.