Travel Tomes for the Southwest and Yellowstone

Getting Away With Textual Traveling Companions or Books
That Are Just Out There

Travel is on our minds this month, and while this guidebook isn’t particularly helpful in finding your way from place to place, it will help readers find out more about the places surrounding them. Published by OU Press, William Bright’s “Native American Placenames of the Southwest” is a reference guide to the etymologies of Native names that have become part of our landscape, sometimes without our realizing it. Don’t pack it as reading material, since it has no narrative; it’s simply a helpful resource for those pondering how to pronounce Gotebo (GOH dee boh), or whether Texas is named for a specific person (nope; it’s from a Caddo word for “friend”) or how anyone came up with the name Wapanucka (it’s probably derived from an Algonquin word meaning “easterners”).

Another tome hot off the OU Press is more of a time-travelogue, since “A President in Yellowstone” concerns not Barack Obama but Chester A. Arthur – the 21st president, best remembered for his totally sweet muttonchops. In 1883, he traveled further west from the Oval Office than any president had before, in order to visit the newly designated national park. It was big news at the time, so in addition to his tour guide (Civil War hero Phil Sheridan) and entourage, Arthur brought photographer F. Jay Haynes to record the trip for posterity. Mission accomplished; Haynes’ historic photos of his companions amid Yellowstone’s epic beauty make a striking backdrop for the firsthand accounts of the journey … a moment in time amid timeless splendor.

Categories: Good Reads