6:30 p.m. Writers at the Library: “My Final Ride” with LeAnn Bednar
7:30 p.m. Book Club Discussion on “My Final Ride”
Alta, WY- Alta Branch Library hosts a book talk by local author, LeAnn Bednar, based on her novel “My Final Ride” about her father’s epic journey on the Great Western Trail from Canada to Mexico. Bednar’s book talk and will be followed by a signing and open book club discussion of “My Final Ride.” Books will be available for purchase from the author.
The novel is based on her father, Charles Christensen, and his long ride on his beloved mule Teancum from Canada to Mexico. The trail he rode on had barely been mapped, and his trip would have been an adventure for anyone. But, according to Bednar, her dad decided to make the journey after being diagnosed with stage-three bone marrow cancer/multiple myeloma and a prognosis of only eighteen months to live.
“The doctor said he would not survive the ride,” writes Bednar.
Bednar based “My Final Ride” on interviews with friends and family, newspaper articles, her own experiences at the time and finally, her father’s diary. She said it was important to her to maintain the integrity of her father’s belief in his quest.
“Though he could barely get on his mule he was determined to leave his home and family to go on a ride he wasn’t sure he could finish,” Bednar said. “Many thought he was selfish to not spend the precious time he had left with us.”
In “My Final Ride” Chuck’s perseverance and courage throughout the trip seems the stuff of legends. He encounters severe illness from giardia, exhausted pack animals, broken bones and deep discouragement. He questions his decision to make the trip many times. He longs for his family, but carries on.
As his family looks back, they now realize that his ride through the mountains was a perfect journey for him to take to make sense of his place in the world and to inspire others, Bednar says.
The book is written from the point of view of Christensen, recounting direct experiences from his journals along the ride. Sometimes he is so exhausted a diary entry might only be a few words, said Bednar.
“An interesting thing I learned from his diary,” said Bednar, “is that he wore panty hose to prevent friction with the saddle.”
“Dad was his own person. He taught the gifted and talented classes at the Middle School in Driggs. It was not unusual for him to request field trips to Craters of the Moon or to the air museum at Hill Air Force Base in Utah,” Bednar said. “He conducted Dutch Oven cooking classes in the parking lot!”
There are many examples of his unique life, said Bednar. Christensen wrote Cowboy Poetry and attended the “National Cowboy Poetry Gathering” in Elko, Nevada several times. Her father took his young family off to live in Wales, Alaska, a small Inuit village and revived the community’s lost tradition of whale hunting. According to Bednar, this is the subject of her next novel.
Bednar published the book herself, and she has had to learn to market and edit it, to keep records, and to acquire a copyright and Library of Congress number. Her book is now for sale in various stores in Teton Valley and orders may also be placed at http://www.LeAnnBednar.com.
For more information about the events call Alta Branch Library, 307-353-2505.
Teton County Library is the community’s open door to a world of opportunity and fulfillment through resources, programs and services that connect, inspire and educate.