As a Bronx-born child who was raised in the suburbs of New York City, I always had a picture of what life was like in the wild, wild west.
To be honest, I had several pictures, including gun-slinging cowboys, tee pees, baked beans and of course, old cow skeletons.
I know this is a cliche.
A proven cliche at that, particularly if you do a Google search for cow skulls (see above).
The truth is the vast, western landscape is not littered with the remains of old bovine carcasses. In fact, in the 30 plus years...er, 20 plus years I've been living in California, I have never come across one.
Though when I was a bartender I did meet an actual cowboy. He herded steer in Wyoming, shoed horses and could dance a mean Texas Two Step. He also had an affinity for pink daiquiris. And by the end of the night we, the bartending staff, would often have to pour Tuffie McTuffBoy into the tiny camper that was bolted onto his truck which was permanently parked behind the restaurant.
Another myth destroyed.
But last week, while my wife and I were camping,in the High Sierras, hiking and cramming all manner of fire-cooked meat into our pieholes, there was redemption.
While off on another Paul Sinfield-inspired roadside attraction hunt, we came across this...
I was going to hop the barbed wire fence, trespass on the property and get up close for a better shot but my wife objected.
She correctly pointed out that most people possess a zoom-in feature on their computer. She also pointed out that the land owner -- most likely a drug addled, white supremacist -- probably possessed a high powered rifle.
Additionally, though the front porch of his double wide trailer was nearly a quarter mile in the distance, he could easily pick off a slow moving 44 year old Jew with two, maybe three, well-placed shots.
Now, you may be thinking, "come on, Rich, that's awfully narrowminded of you to paint with such a broad brush. Just like your mistaken cliched images of the West, not everyone who lives in the sun-baked Owens Valley is a lowbrow, barefoot, meth-smoking, hate-filled flesh sack named Cletus."
How silly of me.
Where would I come up with that idea?