Saturday, September 2, 2017

Frank Moulton and my Rocky retreat.

I've always enjoyed Frank Moulton from "The Noble Bachelor." That title, these days, sounds like a TV show where Lord Robert St. Simon is handing out roses to the likes of Flora Millar and Hatty Doran sorting out his perfect choice of bride. But unlike those silly, silly reality shows, "The Noble Bachelor" features a married man who comes in to mess up St. Simon's quest.

Frank Moulton is a reminder of what a real challenge life in America once was, and the contrast he sets to a child of so-called nobility in posh London is part of what makes the story. Frank Moulton is a man who set a goal, a hard goal, in a hard place, and dragged himself all over creation to accomplish it. He went from a camp near the Rockies to San Francisco, to Montana, then way down to Arizona and New Mexico. He somehow missed being slaughtered when others at his location were. Then he trails his missing bride all the way to London, and once there?

He lets her tell her own story. That might even be the biggest of his achievements after all that.

I don't wonder that Frank had enough control over his ego that, unlike many men of the Canon, he didn't feel the need to dominate the telling of the tale at 221B Baker Street. He certainly could have. But Frank was a guy who had seen the Rocky Mountains.

Residents of our biggest cities like New York and London are rightly proud of the humans that build and populate such incredible anthills of humanity. But finding yourself in the deep rocky canyons of the aptly named Rockies, considering the powerful natural forces that pushed stone into structures larger and more curiously constructed than anything our biggest cities have to offer, well, it kind of puts you in your place. The thought that men like Frank Moulton made their way through this sort of terrain without a paved highway and speeding motorcar makes you realize our species is capable of so much more hardship than most of us face today. And seeing things like bighorn sheep nimbly trotting and jumping around rock walls that would be a slow climb for any human reminds you that even our fancy evolved forms aren't always top of the animal kingdom on all terrain.

Frank Moulton was a guy who came from that sort of place. And spending some time out here in the Rocky Mountains every now and then is definitely good for the soul, even though I'm not a mountain guy at heart -- I'm a river person. Peorians, like Londoners, grew up around that big river of constantly flowing water, a place built because traffic moved more quickly and easily on that water. The mountains are not that place.

Doing a little retreat "near the Rockies," as Frank Moulton began his journey, has always brought me some fresh Sherlock perspectives and challenged me to do some new things. This time is no different. My old website of fifteen years,, seems to have gone down due to some hosting issues while I was here, a fitting time as it was conceived here as well. While a nice repository of a by-gone, pre-Cumberbatch era material, it needed a major overhaul, and this seems like the opportunity to do that overhaul. You'll be seeing that coming along soon . . . well, that is, if I, like Frank Moulton, turn up alive after all my little adventures in the American West.


  1. Always love your stuff, Brad, but this was was a special winner of an essay. Did the mountains help? Looks like it!

    1. Thanks, Sandy! Who knows? But "a complete change of scene and air" is quite the restorative, as Watson knew!