George’s Extreme Vacation

George Grinnell was looking for adventure, for what some might call an extreme (an activity that may be dangerous) vacation. Many of his friends were going to Europe, but not George. For him, Europe was too safe, too comfortable, too ordinary.

Today, if you want an extreme vacation, you might shoot the rapids (ride a small boat in very fast water) on the Colorado River in the U.S. You might trek (make a long difficult journey on foot) across the ice fields of Patagonia in Chile. You might try to climb Mount McKinley in Alaska or Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa. Or you might kayak (ride a small one-person boat) the Baja Coast (where the land meets the ocean) of Mexico.

George didn’t have all those choices in 1872. But that didn’t stop him (keep him from doing what he wanted to do).

George and his friend Jim left Grand Central Station in New York and took the new Union Pacific railroad line to Plum Creek, a small town in Nebraska near the center of the U.S. A guide (someone who takes people where they want to go) led George and Jim on horseback to where they joined a group of Pawnee, a Native American tribe, who were following the buffalo (large animals sometimes called bison) south into the state of Kansas.

George and Jim were surprised to find more than 4,000 Pawnee – men, women, and children – traveling together across the plains (grasslands), in an area we now call the Midwest. They were welcomed by the Pawnee chief (leader) and accepted as guests. For the next week, they lived with the Pawnee as they hunted buffalo, their primary (main) source of meat and hides (animal skin) used for clothes and the tents they lived in. And they were invited to join the hunt.

George writes that the hunt began in the morning with a parade led by several Pawnee warriors. “Their saddles glittered (shined) with silver ornaments (decorations) and their bridles (leather straps used to control a horse) tinkled (rang) with little bells.” That afternoon George and Jim joined the Pawnee warriors, who rode their horses bareback (without saddles) and used only traditional bows and arrows to hunt with. They silently surrounded (made a circle around) a large group of buffalo. And when one of the Pawnee gave a “shrill cry (very loud sound)”, the hunt was on (began)!

After the hunt, George and Jim joined the Pawnee for a feast (large meal) of buffalo meat and other Pawnee foods.

A day or two later, they said goodbye to the Pawnee and began the long ride back to the railroad, but their extreme vacation wasn’t over! On the way (while they were traveling), they were chased and shot at by a group of Cheyenne, another Native American tribe. George wrote that “the song of each bullet created an extraordinary (very great) commotion (noise) in my mind!”

George Grinnell returned to New York and became an important conservationist (someone who protects nature), writer, and student of Native American life.

Nebraska and Kansas are a lot different now – tame, not wild. But it’s still an interesting part of the country. That’s what New York Times Travel writer Tony Perrottet discovered and writes about in an an article that retells (tells again) Grinnell’s buffalo hunt story and describes his own trip to Nebraska and Kansas to retrace Grinnel’s steps (go where he went). It’s a good story.

~ Warren Ediger – English tutor/coach and creator of the Successful English web site.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

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7 Responses to George’s Extreme Vacation

  1. Peter says:

    Hello world 🙂

    It is quite a story

    Very interesting
    It is a shame that All the interesting expeditions for exploring new lands or teritories are a thing of past. The age of technology and information has made the world too small to explore. They only place left to explore I guess is some parts of Amazon forest.
    For The rest ,satellites tell it all.

    Very appealing story

    Thanks warren

  2. Dan says:

    Hello everyone,

    Since I am not a traveler, I am not used to such articles.
    Thanks to you I will read them more often. I found it really interesting and moving.

    I am glad to read that they reintroduced the real owner of the land, the Buffalo.
    Amongst the crazy things we have come up with, owning land is one of the craziest!
    Funny thing there are people living under the illusion they own land, poor thinghs..
    Think that when I mown down the front yard I always leave a spot with flowers for the owners of the field that is the insects.

    Made me kind of laugh the phrase ” the song of bullet”. Only the phrase though, I do not want to hear that song.
    Who is willing to read the article I suggest to see the 19 pictures.

    Thanks Bye!

  3. Peter says:

    Hi eslpod,
    As you well know ,in Canada there is an statuary occasion known as “Canada day” that is simmilar to July the 4th in U.S. in so many ways.
    Canada day is a federal statuary holiday in which Canadians celebrate the milestone that took place in July the first 1868. It was the day in which three Britain colones united as one country called Canada.
    Every year in July the first people across Canada get together In public, out-doors places to mark the occasion with dancing ,eating corns and hotdogs and other cheerful social activities. The occasion usually ends with a spectacular fire works.
    The celebration start any time around 2 or 3 pm and ends normaly around 10 pm.
    In every city , there are some certain places that people go to every year. There is always a big turn out in every city.
    But the largest congregation of people usually happens in Niagra falls. People from all over the province of Ontario swarm onto Niagra Falls for the whole long weekend to be a part of the whole she-bang-that is,parade ,dancing fire works and etc.
    All in all ,it is a very cheerful happy occasion that nobody wants to miss. As a result,in the first of July ,state and church are all closed:)

    Basically ,first of Jully in Canada is the day that the country stops:)



  4. Kurumi says:


    This topic reminds me of “little house on the prairie”. One of my favorite books in my childfood. I love it very much.The description of people’s lives is fascinating to me.
    There is no buffalo anymore,like no samurai warrior in Japan,(Dan,thank you for paying attention to my country.) Everything is changing.
    But I like this episode! Also I learned some new words as always.



  5. Peter says:

    Dear Warren if i may,
    Hi guys,
    I remembered a couple of posts back, Jeff came up with a joke.
    U know ,I was thinking perhaps eslpod wouldn’t mind if I follow the precedence dear Jeff set with a very famous joke in English language.

    ” A young woman stepped forward from the throng and asked. Great mentor tell us how we might find love that is unconditional ,unwavering,and unending.
    The mentor looked off into the distance gathering his thoughts and said to the young women “Get a dog.”



  6. mine says:

    Very good joke !
    I laugh a lot.
    thank you Peter

  7. Betty says:

    Thank you very much indeed, Warren, for this attractive article, I genuinely enjoyed it and would like to thank you for your kindness in presenting it to us here.

    I tried to read the article you referred to in The New York Times, but it was a lot harder to read than your article above. I finished reading your article at one go, which means I enjoyed it very much.

    I also have had an extreme vacation recently.

    I went to Macau with my father, my sister and my brother last week. Macau was a Portugal Colony prior to its handover to China in 1999.

    Because China promised not to change anything for at least 50 years from the handover, all the sin activities like casino gambling etc were allowed to remain there.

    I had no problem with going into the casinos although I knew it was not the best place to be. What me and my siblings wanted to do was to accompany my father (to protect him from falling) there to let him feel happy and, might be, feel young again.

    What I did not expect to see was, when we finished our dinner at a restaurant above a casino, the moment we set our feet on the ground floor, we were engulfed by at least twenty beautifully dressed young women.

    Don’t get excited, my friends, it was scary. It was like being surrounded by the Pawnee warriors.

    Anyone old enough and streetwise enough can tell what kind of profession these girls are of.

    We simply ignored them and walked steady, they quickly disappeared behind us.

    Phew! I guess if we did not go as a group, something really bad could happen.

    No, please don’t chase Betty’s tale, don’t go near the casinos which are not for good people like us. There are Pawnee warriors in there, we good English learners are not even as strong as the buffalo.

    Thanks again, Warren, what a good story!

    Betty 🙂

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