“The cowboy has left the country; his campfire has gone out,” wrote Ben Arnold of Valentine, Nebraska, in 1878.
By then, Arnold was no longer bringing cattle north from Texas as a cowboy working for the Bosler Brothers. In 1878, he was freighting for Fort Niobrara in the Nebraska Sandhills, working with John Sutler. Sutler’s tune and Arnold’s 1878 poem has been passed down through the generations. Even Don Edwards has recorded his version of it on Saddle Songs.
Arnold wrote this poem to commemorate the happy years he had spent as a cowboy. “When I think of those good old days, my eyes with tears will fill; when I think of the tin can by the fire and the coyote on the hill.”
But cowboys and cowgirls everywhere can rekindle these campfires, forming long-lasting friendships around the comforting flames, just as cow hands have for centuries.
And even if you aren’t fresh off a long trail drive, take advantage of all the grandeur the West has to offer and hit the road to create your own camp of memories.
But first, you’ll need the best gear to get on the right track. You’re more than likely to pile into an RV or attach a horse trailer to your truck so you can bring along your partner for the ride, than you are to actually ride all the way to your destination as settlers and cowhands have done in the past. Even though you’ll probably have a lot more room to work with than you would’ve if you were hauling your camp gear in a wagon, it’s still best to be frugal when it comes to selecting the appropriate camping gear for your next Western adventure.
After all, sleeping under the stars in a wide, open space allows for heartfelt reflection, quality time with family members and other loved ones, and a connection with nature that reminds us of our role in preserving it and our reliance on its sustenance. The emphasis is on the spiritual, not the material.
To help keep you focused on creating lifetime memories around your campfire, we’ve taken the guesswork out of camping by finding the gear that you won’t want to be without. That way, when you reach your camp site, you’ll be prepared to focus on the things you may not find time to do in your everyday life. As far as making memories worth writing poems about, that’ll be left up to you.