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Previous Unit | Next Unit | Back

 

Unit Nine
 
 
Click the button to listen to the text

 

 

In 1976, during America's bicentennial celebra-
tion, a family decided to travel to the American West
instead of joining the majority of people that were cele-
brating on the East Coast. They wanted to follow the
trails that the pioneers had made when they began to
settle the West. The family was looking forward to
making their own discoveries.
 
 
JOURNEY WEST
 

Jim Doherty
 
We began our trip out West on June 19, 1976, a time when millions of
other American families were preparing to crowd into the Bicentennial
shrines of the East. We sized up America's 200th birthday celebration a bit
differently. Although the Republic may have been born in the East, it had
spent most of its time and energies since then moving west. So we resolved
to head in the same direction in 1976, following the old pioneer trails and
the famous rivers. Concentrating primarily on Wyoming and Montana, we would
explore such legendary mountain ranges as the Big Horns, the Bitterroots
and the Swan.

There was one problem though. I was sure our four kids -- educated
about the West through the movies -- would be disappointed. As an envi-
ronmental editor, I knew that strip mining was tearing up many scenic areas
and that clear-cutting was causing widespread damage in the mountains. I
was well aware that draining and damming were making a mess of many rivers
and wetlands. The grasslands were overgrazed and coal-burning power plants
were befouling the air. Wildlife was on the run everywhere and tourists
were turning the national parks into slums.
I was prepared for the worst. But how to prepare the kids?

The answer, we decided, was to undertake our journey not just as
tourists on a holiday, but as reporters on the trail of "the real West."
So all of us, from my kids to my wife, pledged to do our homework before we
left and to record on the way everything we did, saw, heard, felt or thought.

Predictably, we did not uncover any new truths about the West in three
short weeks. But there were plenty of surprises on that 5, 200-mile journey
and the biggest one was this: I had been wrong. Some of the troubles we
saw were every bit as bad as I had dreaded. But by and large, the country
was as glorious, as vast and as overwhelmingly spectacular as those
know-nothing kids had expected !

Half the fun of. going west is discovering, along the way, how much
the past is still with us. Old wives' tales. Little old farm towns shaded
from the summer heat by enormous maple trees on streets. White-haired folks
reading the paper on their farmhouse porches at sunset. Worn-out windmills
standing alone in pastures... All in all, we did not see much evidence that
small-town America is vanishing as we traveled through rural Wisconsin,
Minnesota arid South Dakota. It's true that many new homes are rising in
many old cornfields. But for the most part, life in vast areas of the Ameri-
can heartland remains pretty much the same as it was 30 and 40 years ago.

In the hilly farmlands of southern Wisconsin and Minnesota, we found
the fields and forests green and the creeks still flowing. The farnis, with
their "eggs for sale" signs and enormous "grandma's gardens" in the front
yards, looked prosperous and secure. Not much further north, though, a
drought was threatening the land.

In South Dakota, the situation was far worse. "Haven't seen anything
like this since the dirty thirties," one farmer told us. Even in normal
times, most of South Dakota is dry. Now it was being burned to a crisp. The
water holes were dried up and we saw dead cattle lying here and there on
the treeless, rolling range. Some farmers were hauling water out to their
thirsty stock daily; others were trying to drill deep wells.

We saw two distinctly different Wyomings. We crossed the first Wyoming
between the Black Hills and the Big Horns. Wide-open grassland, fenced and
colorless, with red rocks and sweet-smelling shrubs scattered about, it was
typical of a hard-used land. Cattle grazed on it. Oil rigs pumped on it and
power lines zigzagged all over it. Freight trains labored across it, hauling
coal from strip mine to power plant, hauling uranium and other minerals to
refineries. This Wyoming, clearly, was booming.

The other Wyoming started some miles east of Buffalo, an unexpectedly-
graceful community in the foothills of the Big Horns. On one side of town,
antelope abounded by fours and fives in the hills, and yellow wild flowers
lined the roads. On the other side rose the Big Horns and nearly 10, 000
feet up, Powder River Pass cut through them.

The Big Horn canyons were incredible, with four and five distinct lay-
ers of pine trees somehow clinging to the steep, rocky walls. Far, far be-
low, Ten Sleep Creek was a thin, white torrent on the rampage. In some of
the less wild terrain, we saw deer on the high green hillsides and, as we
climbed up toward our picnic spot, we flushed two does and two fawns. That
night, we fell asleep with the roar of Ten Sleep in our ears.

We had picked by chance for our stopping place an area rich in western
lore. At one time, Ten Sleep -- a small village at the western base of the
Big Horns -- lay midway between two great Indian camps. in those days, the
Indians measured distances by the number of sleeps and the halfway mark
between those two camps was exactly ten sleeps.

We crossed the Continental Divide for the first time on a cool morning,
cutting through the Rockies in northwestern Wyoming at a place called
Togwatee Pass (at a height of 9, 656 feet) . Our van had just leveled off
and we were rounding a downhill bend when, all at once, there they were,
stretched out before us in a spectacular procession of massive white peaks:
the Tetons. My wife gasped and, behind us, the kids began to yell. In truth,
it was a startling sight -- a sight none of us will ever forget.

We had seen mountains before, but we had never experienced anything
even remotely like that initial impact of the Tetons. It was exactly what
we had in mind when we decided to take our first trip "out West. "



Click the button to listen to the pronunciations of new words

 

 

New Words

 

bicentennial a.
happening once in 200 years; of a 200th

 
anniversary

n.
200th anniversary

shrine n.
a building or place associated with sth.

 
or sb. deeply respected 神殿, 圣地

resolve vt.
make up one's mind (to do sth.) ; decide

 
决心; 决定

trail n.
a path across rough country made by the

 
passing of people or animals 小径,小道

legendary a.
of,like or told in a legend 传奇(似)的

mountain range
a row of connected mountains 山脉

disappointed a.
sad at not getting what was hoped for 失

 
望的

environmental a.
having to do with environment 环境的

environment n.

editor n.
编辑

strip mine n.
a mine which is operated from the surface

 
by removing the overlying layers of

 
earth 露天矿

vt.
take(a mineral or ore) from a strip mine

 
露天开采(矿物)

scenic a.
of or having to do with natural scenery

 
天然风景的

clear-cut vt.
cut all the trees in ( a given area or

 
forest) 将…的树木砍伐光

drain vt.
carry away the surface water of 排(水等)

dam n.
a wall or bank built to keep back water

 
坝 , 水闸

vt.
build a dam across

mess n.
state of confusion, dirt or disorder 混

 
乱,肮脏

wetland n.
land or areas containing much soil

 
moisture; swamp 沼泽地

grassland n.
land rovered with grass, esp. wild open

 
land for cattle to feed on 草地; 牧场

overgraze vt.
allow animals to graze to the point of

 
damaging the grass cover 在…上过度放牧

power plant
发电厂

befoul vt.
make dirty 弄脏

wildlife n.
animals and plants which live and grow

 
in natural conditions 野生动植物

tourist n.
a person making a tour for pleasure 游客

slum n.
(often ph) street,alley,or building in a

 
crowded, run-down,dirty part of a city

 
or town, where the poorest people live

 
贫民窟

undertake vt.
take up (a duty, etc. ); start on (work)

 
承担; 从事

pledge vt.
make a solemn promise or agreement 发誓,

 
保证

predictably ad.
as one may predict

uncover vt.
remove a cover from; find out, discover

 
揭开…盖子;发现

know-nothing a.
ignorant

n.
ignoramus

shade vt.
shelter from direct light or heat 萌蔽

maple n.
槭树, 枫树

folk (AmE folks) n.
people

worn-out a.
used until no longer fit for use; very

 
tired 破旧的; 精疲力尽的

windmill n.
a mill operated by the action of the

 
wind on sails which revolve 风车

pasture n.
grassland for cattle; grass on such land

 
牧场; 牧草

rural a.
of or relating to the country, country

 
people or life, or agriculture 农村的

cornfield n
(AmE)玉米田;(BrE)小麦田,谷物田

heartland n.
any area or region that is the center of,

 
or vital to,a country 心脏地带,中心地带

hilly a.
full of hills

grandma n.
( informal ) grandmother

secure a.
safe; having no doubt, fear, or anxiety

 
安全的

drought n.
a long period of dry weather, when there

 
is not enough water 干旱

crisp a.
dry; hard; easily broken 脆的; 易碎的

n.
something crisp

rolling a.
rising and falling in long gentle slopes

 
绵延起伏的

haul vt.
pull or drag with force 拖曳

stock n.
farm animals, usu. cattle 牲畜

distinctly ad.
clearly

graze v.
feed on growing grass ( in) 吃(…的)草

rig n.
钻塔

pump vt.
force (water, etc. ) out by using a pump

n.


zigzag vi.
go in a zigzag 弯弯曲曲地行走, 蜿蜒曲折

n.
a line shaped like a row of z's

freight freit n.
the goods carried from place to place by

 
water or by land 货物

freight train n.
(AmE) goods train

uranium n.

refinery n.
a building and apparatus for refining

 
sth.(metals,oil,or sugar)精炼厂,提炼厂

boom vi.
grow rapidly; develop rapidly in popula-

 
tiori and importance 迅速发展, 兴盛

graceful a.
(of shape or movement) pleasing to the

 
eye 优雅的

grace n.

foothill n.
a low hill at the foot of a mountain 山

 
麓小丘

antelope n.
a deer-like, fast-running animal with

 
thin legs 羚羊

abound vi.
have or exist in great numbers or quan-

 
tities (物产)丰富

canyon n.
a deep narrow steep-sided valley ( usu.

 
with a river flowing through) 峡谷

distinct a.
easily seen, heard, understood; plain;

 
clearly different or separate 明显的;

 
不同的

pine n.
松树; 松木

cling (clung ) vi.
hold tightly; remain close 紧握着;粘着

steep a.
rising or falling sharply or at a large

 
angle 陡峭的

torrent n.
a violently rushing stream of water 激流

rampage n.
excited and violent behavior 横冲直撞,

 
狂暴行径

terrain n.
a stretch of land, esp. when considered

 
in relation to its nature 地带,地形

hillside n.
the sloping side of a hill 山腰

picnic n.
野餐

roar n.
a deep loud sound as of a lion, or

 
thunder, etc. 吼叫,轰鸣

western a.
of, in, from, characteristic of the west

lore n.
tradition and knowledge, esp. handed down

 
from past times (口头)传说

midway a. & ad.
in a middle position

halfway a. & ad.
at the midpoint between two things

continental a.
(typical) of a very large mass of land;

 
(AmE) of or in the North American

 
continent 大陆(性)的; 北美大陆的

van n.
a covered motor-vehicle for carrying

 
goods and sometimes people 客货两用车

level v.
bring or some into a horizontal plane

downhill a.
(sloping or going) towards the bottom of

 
a hill

stretch v.
(cause to) become wider or longer; spread

 
out 伸延

procession n.
a line of people, vehicles, etc. moving

 
forward in an orderly way 行列, 队伍

massive a.
large, heavy and solid; huge 粗大的,巨大的

gasp v.
struggle for breath with open mouth, esp.

 
because of surprise, shock, etc. 喘息

n.
catching of the breath through surprise,

 
pain, etc.

yell v.
make a loud sharp cry or shout, as of

 
pain, excitement, etc. ; say or shout

 
loudly

remotely ad.
to a very small degree; far away 很少地;

 
极小地; 遥远地

remote a.

initial a.
occurring at the beginning; first 最初的,

 
开始的

impact n.
a strong effect; the striking of one

 
thing against another 影响; 冲击



 

Phrases & Expressions

 

size up
form an opinion or judgment about 估计; 品评

a bit
to some degree; rather 有点儿, 相当

tear up
destroy completely by tearing 撕毁, 毁掉

make a mess of
disorder, spoil or ruin 把…弄脏 ; 把…弄糟

on the run
running or hurrying from place to place; in

 
flight 奔跑着;奔逃着

do one's homework
make necessary preparations before taking

 
part in an important activity 作必要的准备

by and large
on the whole; in general

all in all
( informal ) on the whole

here and there
scattered about; in various places 零星分散,

 
在各处

burn to a crisp
burn black or dry 烤焦

cut through
穿过, 穿透

cling to
keep a firm hold on 紧紧抓住

be/go on the/a rampage
go about in an excited, mad and violent manner

 
横冲直撞

by chance
unintentionally ; by accident 偶然地; 意外地

at one time
formerly 从前, 曾经

level off /out
move horizontally (after climbing) ; remain

 
steady (after a rise) (爬高后)水平移动 ;

 
(上升后)达到平稳

stretch out
extend; prolong 延伸 ,延续

in truth
truly; really 的确

have in mind
be considering, intend 考虑, 打算



 

Proper Names

 

Wyoming
怀俄明(美国州名)

Montana
蒙大拿(美国州名)

the Big Horns
大霍恩山脉(美国山名)

the Bitterroots
比特鲁特山脉(美国山名)

the Swan
斯旺山(美国山名)

Wisconsin
威斯康星(美国州名)

South Dakota
南达科他(美国州名)

the Black Hills
布莱克山(美国山名)

Buffalo
布法罗(美国城市名)

Powder River
波德河(美国河流名)

Ten Sleep Creek
十眠河(美国河流名)

the Rockies
洛矶山脉(美国山名)

Togwatee Pass
托格瓦堤关(美国地名)

the Tetons
提腾山脉(美国山名)


 

 

 

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