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Cabin Kisses By Hope Ford

Keith had very little to guide him, as he could not determine whether this mysterious cabin on the Salt Fork lay to east or west of the usual cattle trail leading down to the Canadian. Yet he felt reasonably assured that the general trend of the country lying between the smaller stream and the valley of the Arkansas would be similar to that with which he was already acquainted. It was merely a wild stretch of sandy desolation, across which their horses would leave scarcely any trail, and even that little would be quickly obliterated by the first puff of wind. As they drew in toward the river valley this plain would change into sand dunes, baffling and confusing, but no matter how hard they pressed forward, it must be daylight long before they could hope to reach these, and this would give him opportunity to spy out some familiar landmark which would guide them to the ford. Meanwhile, he must head as directly north as possible, trusting the horses to find footing.

Cabin Kisses by Hope Ford

They followed the cattle trail south toward the Salt Fork, as this course would afford them a camp at the only water-hole in all that wide desert lying between. With this certainty of water, they ventured to press their animals to swifter pace, although the sand made travelling heavy, and the trail itself was scarcely discernible. It was a hard, wearisome ride, hour after hour through the same dull, dreary landscape of desolation, the hot, remorseless sun beating down upon them, reflecting up into their blistered faces from the hot surface of sand. There was scarcely a breath of air, and the bodies of men and horses were bathed in perspiration. Not a cloud hung in the blue sky; no wing of a bird broke the monotony of distance, no living animal crept across the blazing surface of the desert. Occasionally a distant mirage attracted the eye, making the dead reality even more horrible by its semblance to water, yet never tempting them to stray aside. After the first mile conversation ceased, the men riding grimly, silently forward, intent only on covering all the distance possible. Late that night they camped at the water-hole, sleeping as best they could, scourged by the chill wind which swept over them and lashed grit into exposed faces. With the first gray of dawn they swung stiffened forms into the saddles and rode on, straight as the crow flies, for the Salt Fork. They attained that stream at sundown, gray with sand dust, their faces streaked from perspiration, feeling as though the sun rays had burned their brains, with horses fairly reeling under them. According to Keith's calculation this cattle-ford must be fully ten miles below where the cabin sought was situated; two hours' rest, with water and food, would put both horses and men again in condition, and the travelling was easier along the banks of the Fork. With this in mind, cinches were loosened, the animals turned out to graze, and the men, snatching a hasty bite, flung themselves wearily on the ground.

My dear - The evening is well along - dinner is over - I have smoked one of Mr. Harriman's cigars and then your pipe and now have retreated from the comfortable smoking room to have a chat with you. We are tearing along at a great rate - proved as you see by the irregularity of these characters. Let me tell you what I have learned so far of our party. First the train. Smoking car - dining car, two vestibule compartment sleepers and Mr. H's private car make it up. Mr. H. has his whole family along - wife and 6 (?) children of whom 3 are nearly grown up. They may however not all be his family - I have met none of them as yet. He himself is a quiet charming gentleman, very social in manner and a model host. There are no ladies outside his family! Several friends are with him who are going for the hunting. Dr. Morris a young physician who promises to be very pleasant - Mr. Devereaux a mining engineer with whom I have already struck up acuaintance and others as yet unknown in person or in number. 22 scientists are aboard most of whom I have met already. Emerson is charming. We sat together all the way up the lovely Hudson river and he kept up a string of pleasant stories and experiences. Our table at dinner was in a constant roar. Mr. Dahl is quiet but very comeatable and I have already had some intersting talk with him. I cannot give the whole list of names as yet. There is an artist Swain Gifford - a parson Mr. Nelson - a stenographer whom I would like to have typewrite this letter for me - only that I know you would not read it if I did!! etc. Dinner was fine but no wines or liquors were served though one can get and pay for them one's self which is I think a wise and favorable provision. Altogether there is a spirit of friendliness and good-fellowship which promises well for the expedition. There is all the feeling of a house party - every guest at liberty to speak to every other is he wishes or to remain silent if he choose. We are coming into a station and as it is already late and as writing under the present conditions is something trying I will close and mail this now and tell you more another time. Love to Jeanette and much more of a different kind and with many kisses for yourself from your devoted

Dear Helen - Just a line before I turn in to tell how the afternoon and evening passed. Our whole crowd wandered down to the Field Museum, the only building from the Fair which still remains. Emerson and I went off together there and saw the minerals, spending about two hours looking over the collections. Then we walked over to the Chicago University, admiring the large buildings all of gray stone in the same style. After a brief call on Prof. Iddings [?], Mrs. Parker's friend (?) we came back to dinner at the Auditorium Annex where nearly the whole party assembled. I sat next the older Harriman daughter who proved quite pleasant company despite her youth she not yet being old enough to come out. Then I joined some of the younger fellows to see the Runaway Girl which proved rather a stupid farce tho' the March Hear the Band was amusing and lively. We have taken some more swells aboard, particularly Mr. Burt the President of the Union Pacific and our party is now complete except for the three Californians who join at Seattle. I found out more about mail probilities [sic] today. We shall probably receive no mail after leaving Seattle until our return there as there is no certainty that we will call at Sitka returning and so might miss mail sent there. So address any letters you may write to Seattle, General Delivery, care Harriman Alaska Expedition and please tell Daly to do the same. I find we shall be back there before August 1st - perhaps by July 26th so send nothing after July 20th. That means I will be with you again by Aug. 1st almost to a certainty which delights my heart as every day counts much at that time. We can send mail more often than we receive it and should be able to let you hear four or five times I hope. My money was forwarded all right as I heard today much to my relief. Tomorrow sometime we reach Omaha and Seattle Saturday or Sunday I believe. I must send a line home before we leave Chicago and as it is already late will stop this here. Love and many kisses to my love from your devoted

Our quarters on the steamer are only less comfortable than were those on the train which we have left. Each man has a stateroom to himself which I am very glad of as it gives me a privacy and independence I had hardly hoped for. The steamer is newly refitted, quite large enough to hold our party in entire comfort and well equipped in every way. Two launches will enable us to make frequent and easy landings. The table as shown by our lunch today will be well served - and I see no reason why we should not be exceedingly comfortable in every way imaginable. I know no more of the details of our plans than I did when I left N.Y.; indeed I doubt if they are fully formed but will develop as we proceed. This does not worry me - I am simply prepared to do all I can in every sort of way that opportunity affords and to be satisfied with that without worrying about the future nor repining about the unaccomplished. Certainly our experience thus far gives assurance that all will be done that can be for our comfort and convenience as well as our interest and pleasure.

Moving forward for 2009Completing the branding process, which includes branding both Surry County and its hospitality industry, are the goals that Oberle said she sees the Tourism Partnership focusing on in the upcoming year.Were extremely pleased with how weve been able to put together the partnership, she said. Everyone recognizes that tourism is critical to economic prosperity, and weve received full fledged support from other organizations. Its a milestone to see this level of cooperation.The organization grew out of the convergence of NC STEP, a NC Rural Center project designed to promote small town revitalization that includes participation from 45 communities including Dobson, Elkin and Pilot Mountain. In that union of NC STEP, known as the Surry Cluster, Oberle said the members developed a camaraderie that spurred an initiative to start the organization after they disagreed with the county, who wanted to create a similar organization like the Partnership. The countys organization would have taken 50 percent of the revenue generated from the areas occupancy tax, which is six percent, from each participating muncipalitythe Tourism Partnership only collects a third of that revenue.The credit really goes to the three municipalities working together on NC STEP, said Oberle, adding that she believed the Tourism Partnership was one of the only organizations of its kind in the state, and one of few in the country. It was a strategic goal to promote tourism in a collective manner. We didnt have the leverage to do what we wanted to do, so we had an idea to form strategic partnership. We had to move fast. I knew because of the NC STEP relationships, the mayors, town mangers and other leaders from all four towns were in all complete agreement about forming the partnership. We didnt think (collecting) 50 percent was necessary, we thought we could do it for less.The revenue received from each municipality helps cover advertising costs and other methods of promoting tourism.One of the initiatives Oberle hopes to sponsor in the upcoming year is a Familiarity Tour, in which those working in small businesses related to the hospitality industry would receive on the spot training that offers the Surry brand of hospitality, Oberle said.One of our priorities is getting the hospitality committee back together, and to begin to put tactical actions in place which will include FAM tours for key hospitality locations, and other hospitality businesses that have high guests contact. It will be a travel road show that takes hospitality training directly to restaurants, conveniences stores, retails, cafes and smaller operations that couldnt afford to send people off site. One of the key things is to establish our own brand of hospitality that makes a statement of what exists here, were not trying to change anybody here, but to heighten peoples sense about what brings people here. Were already good, we know we can get even better, we want to perpetuate that.Oberle, who is a Canadian by birth, worked in Florida with Disney for 27 years before moving to Pilot Mountain five years ago. She sums up her experience living in Surry County as one that has been filled with friendly faces and helping handsits one that she thinks best represents the area, and that the branding company MadCat will help distinguish as Surry Countys own identity.Ive been impressed with the genuine warmth and friendliness in the county and beyond our borders, she said. The willingness for people to be helpful and go out of way to help you, along with that small town feel, that family feelits what Ive heard tourists say, too. We want to embellish that and capitalize on that, and get people in the community and in hospitality jobs on that, we want them to understand how that builds customer loyalty and brings (people) back.Local tourism director Jessica Icenhour said her focus for the new year will be promoting the variety of activities that Mount Airy and the surrounding area offers such as biking, canoeing, wining and dining, among others.Whether visitors are Mayberry enthusiasts or a lover of wines or even looking to get hitched, she said the Visitors Center has a host of travel packages on its Web site,, dedicated to the leisure traveler with a niche.I think we are definitely going to the focus on packages, its a niche market, she said. (The area) is developing into a recreational/out door area that includes bicycling, canoeing, the wine industry and weddings.In a separate tourism effort known as The Northwest North Carolina-Southwest Virginia Regional Tourism Initiative, which formed in April, it merges the tourism efforts of nine counties including Surry, Stokes, Yadkin, and Wilkes counties in North Carolina and Carroll, Grayson, Smyth counties, and the city of Galax, in Virginia. In an effort to blur the state lines and integrate both states, the group branded the region as The Cascade Highlands.Chris Knopf, the assistant county manager for economic development in Surry County, who also serves on the board of directors for the organization, couldnt be reached Tuesday afternoon, but said in an earlier interview that he expects the Cascade Highlands to have a director in place at the start of the new year and a Web site for the organization.Contact Erin C. Perkins at or 719-1952. 041b061a72


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