OUTSIDER | RANGER DAN ~ In his younger days, Dan Wilson was an urban cowboy. He was born in a small home on Dale Evans Parkway in northern Victorville. He loved watching old western movies and TV series starring John Wayne, Randolph Scott, Gene Autry, and of course, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. He tried to emulate their moral fiber and strength of character. He appreciated that his world was no longer as dangerous as theirs.
In 2131, at the age of fourteen, he visited the Apple Valley Dude Ranch on the slopes of Bell Mountain near where he lived. It featured reenactments of rodeos and cattle drives, and a replica of the historic Murray’s Ranch of the mid-twentieth century. In their museum, he saw items from the collections of Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. One other small collection attracted his interest—
Dan rode his bicycle to the dude ranch often. He pestered the rodeo stars for lessons about throwing a lasso and trainin
g horses. As soon as he turned sixteen, he was employed to clean stalls and sweep floors. He worked the stands during rodeos, and worked the horses in-between. When he turned eighteen, he trained for the rodeo. It wasn’t difficult or dangerous, since they were only re-enactments. He was merely an actor, but he worked hard at being believable.
Being a big young man, he considered himself more of a Hoss Cartwright than a Little Joe. His bulk slowed him in barrel races. In steer wrestling he excelled. He wanted to do some bronc-busting, but wasn’t allowed—for the sake of the horse. The crowd roared when he was the rodeo clown.
As he neared thirty years old, he turned his sights towards the Park Service. He loved the Dude Ranch, but the rodeo was a young man’s sport. Horses were used extensively in the parks—his skills were a natural. Travels on horseback often took him to the edge of the Rift. Many viewpoints were o
nly accessible by trails, and those needed constant inspection for safety. He was given one task to perform whenever he approached the Rift’s edge—watch for Mojave People on the other side. He never saw one.
The Park Service had an extensive database on the Mojave People. None of it was breaking news. As a Ranger, Dan absorbed it all. The era of the Mojave People was also the era of real rodeos. Their land covered over two million acres. He assumed they must use horses to travel. He wondered why no one had seem them—or their horses—for decades. It had to be the density of the Mojave Forest.
When he became Chief Ranger of the Rift Ranger Station, he determined to someday enter the Mojave Restricted Area. That land was now part of his jurisdiction. He hoped he could travel it on horseback. But he knew the rules and the laws. If he ever went in there, it would have to be alone.
He reminisced about the wild west. Would he travel in there as a Marshall Dillon, or a Buffalo Bill Cody? He recalled his favorite TV character, and it made him smile. When it came to the Mojave People, he would be the Lone Ranger.