John Muir took a thousand mile walk in his very late 20s. It changed his life and gave him direction. Before this hike that basically took him from Louisville, KY to Savannah, GA where he took a boat to Fernandina, FL and continued walking to the west coast of that still undeveloped state. It was here that he decided not to continue on to South America and go instead to California. He also had contracted malaria.
Before this long walk John Muir tried several careers. He had enrolled in a university but dropped out without earning a degree, lived on a farm in Wisconsin, and tried working as a businessman/inventor in Indianapolis until an industrial accident almost destroyed his eyesight. His decision to go to California profoundly affected his future.
John Muir married in California when he was 42. He and his wife, who was called Louie, had 2 daughters. Learning how to finally focus his interests, Muir began to write. During the 25 years he lived in his father-in-law’s house, Muir maintained an office on the 2nd floor and wrote more than 300 articles and 12 books. The desk that he sat at has been returned to this house that is currently closed because of COVID. All of the 12 books that he wrote are still in print and include stories about his trips to Alaska where Muir studied glaciers and had one named for him and a book called A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf. Before he died in 1914 at the age of 76, Muir had moved his family into this mansion, influenced the formation of 5 National Parks and 23 National Monuments, and befriended fellow traveler Teddy Roosevelt. He called his work area in his father-in-law’s Italianate mansion his “scribble den”. Far more than 12 books have been written about John Muir including A Passion for Nature, the book I am currently reading and immensely enjoying. Louie was busy too. She played the piano and managed the fruit ranch on her father’s property where her husband grafted pears to quince rootstock to make the fruit more disease-resistant.
A visit to the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez, CA is a good idea despite the fact that entry to the scribble den is currently not possible. Ruth and I admired the many fruit trees and other flora thriving on the property, enjoyed seeing the Vicente Martinez Adobe ranch house, and liked talking to the staff.
To be continued for certain.