Now I was a little reluctant at first to take this stranger up on his offer to show me around town but after about the fifth passerby stopped, smiled and gave a familiar hello to John, I sort of shrugged my shoulders, took and deep breath and said, “Sure, what the heck. Let`s go”. Little did I realize the adventure and education that lay in store for me. Why, he took me around town first on foot past store fronts I must have passed a few times already but never dared enter and found myself being introduced to what seemed like all of western culture, in the local sense. Why I met cowboy poets like Baxter Black, heard some tapes of the great local musician Tom Russell , saw first hand a young craftsman making a saddle, talked to a rancher in his Sunday Best coming into town for supplies. John took me through some shops and explained in detail much of the paraphernalia used today on ranches while relating his childhood experiences and the influence of his mentors.
Soon it was off to the Ruby Mountains where we took some short walks through juniper and pinion pines while examining the flora and fauna in detail. Now this guy really knows this country. I felt really relaxed with John and he never hesitated to answer questions. Got a thrill out of seeing my first Red Tail Hawk flying about with some Turkey Vultures while John graciously prepared a picnic lunch along a creek. He offered to saddle up some horses to ride up into the Island Lake but I knew Lamoille and Fort Halleck were still on the itinerary so we continued on our tour but it would take a whole lot more writing to try to capture the experience. All I can say is that I would have missed Elko had it not been for Cowboy John`s professional guidance.