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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 66: 29 November

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysOne thing I do miss from Fogg's days are the bison. 'About three o'clock in the afternoon a herd of ten or twelve thousand blocked the railroad. The engine . . . tried to plunge its spur into the flank of the immense column, but it had to stop before the impenetrable mass.'

The landscape we're travelling through has long been rid of bison and Sioux and Pawnees too, but it's a spectacular backdrop for a bacon and egg breakfast, with snow-sprinkled fields in deep shadow and suncapped mountains in sharp contrast behind. The train snakes its way into the Rockies following half-frozen streams up curving valleys that are narrowing and steepening all the time. The rocks have been folded and faulted and weathered into tortured crumbling shapes. Pinnacles and boulders rest on tiny stems, there are precarious overhangs and knobbly stacks.

Into the small town of Helper, Utah, about mid-morning. Helper is one of those functional names that abound in this literal, pioneering part of America. Towns with names like Parachute, Rifle, Gypsum, Carbondale and Basalt, Colorado. Helper was where additional locomotives required to help trains on the final assault of the Rockies were housed. The town, built for the railway crews, is now a coal-mining centre and has up-graded itself to Helper City.
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  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 66
  • Date: 29 November
  • Country/sea: USA
  • Place: Helper - Utah
  • Book page no: 213

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