Guideposts

chuck wagon chef

TEXAS’S PALO DURO CANYON GETS mighty cold in December. Especially at 3:45 in the morning. My hands, my whole body, felt frozen as I rolled out of my 1876 Studebaker chuck wagon. I could barely hold a match to the lantern, the wind blowing from the north. “God, let this catch,” I muttered.

The cowboys were still asleep, though they’d be stirring before long. It’s my job as cook to be up first, firing up Bertha—my 385-pound, wood-burning camp stove—and get enough eggs and bacon going to feed a small battalion. An army moves on its stomach, they say. A cattle drive is no different. Without a hearty breakfast…brother, we’ve got problems. It’s all riding on me.

I gave up a good-paying, secure job to become a chuck wagon cook. At the time, it felt like what I was meant to do. I wondered. Just then, the lantern blew out.

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