As I pack up and head out to the annual Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association conference (say that three times fast), where I will be participating on a panel discussing the history of tourism and outdoor recreation in the West, I wanted to share a adventure blog a friend shared with me by a fellow named Scott Mestrezat.
A twenty-something native of Chicago, Scott is an avid outdoorsman. And I don’t mean he takes holiday trips to Colorado to ski, though I am sure has. No, for the past two months Scott has been making his way down all 2,400 miles of the Missouri River via a wooden hand made SUP (Stand Up Paddle Boat).
He has been chronicling his journal via his blog at http://www.missouririversup.com/, as well as his facebook page, and a few vimeo films.
As I have pondered the history outdoor recreation in the West for my round table I have come to realize that recreation has long played a role in how we have perceived and even valued the West. The parallels between Mestrezat’s journey and that of the Powell Expeditions are readily apparent, but so are those between the early Snow Shoe Races of the 1850s in the California Sierra and the heli-ski operations of Alaska, of the early travelers such as Isabella Bird, who visited the region that later become Rocky Mountain National Park in 1873, and the millions who pass through Yosemite.
Outdoor recreation then, deserves a deeper appreciation in creating the West as we know it today, as well as how we knew it in the past.
In the mean time, have one hell of a trip Scott, we wish we were there.
by Michael W. Childers