The Hats They Wore

This is not me wearing my Fund Raiser cap. This is Shy Hurst of the Texas High Plains. He’s wearing one of the memorable hats I encountered on the Lost Sea Expedition.

I’ve been awfully quiet online these past weeks. That’s because the big push is on to get the Lost Sea Expedition TV series turned in to to Rocky Mountain PBS.  These days, I’ve traded in my Mule Skinner hat for my Audio Engineer, Colorist, Animal Handler and Insurance Agent hats. Okay, I don’t have an Insurance Agent hat. But that figure of speech sure brings back memories of some of the great hats I found  folks wearing out there on the dusty Lost Sea. Here’s a look at a few of them.

Linda’s Hat: Linda Kramer runs Borderlands Ranch outside Hill City, South Dakota. She hosted mule Polly and me as we began our second season on the road.

The thing about hats and the Great Plains and mule wagon travel is that anywhere a man and his mule ramble, they’re sure to find great head gear. That’s because the Great Plains is exposed to wind and rain and cold and heat with nary a forest or big city to break the weather as it roars its way from Canada to Mexico. When it gets bored, the weather just roars the other way.

Sure, if you live there, you could choose to spend your time inside. But the goal of my wagon journey was to meet the folks that lived on the ancient sea bed, the remnants of the Western Interior Seaway that once stretched from the Dakotas west to the Rockies.  I wanted to listen to their stories. Film their lives. Record their thoughts and hopes and fears and weave that material in to a beautiful TV series.

I found two things.

One, the folks that live in these areas are hardy folks. They spend lots of time outdoors and, as a result, have remarkable faces and hats – creased, folded, sun scorched and bent.

Two, I don’t have as much hair as I used to have. If I wanted to keep from boiling, frying, freezing or dehydrating my brain, I needed to buffer it from the heavens with a whacking good lid.

Here I’m using my hat to keep the wind from distorting my audio recorder. I’m recording the sound of the wind.  Later, this audio was used as some of the background sound you’ll hear in the Lost Sea Expedition series. I have even less hair now…. (Minor Ranch outside Hyannis, Nebraska)

Here are a few more hats from my 2,500 mile wagon voyage across America.

Wrangler’s Hat. While crossing America in my wagon, I pitched in at a Montana branding. I rode a horse named Hemi. My job was to stay out of the way. (Eastern Montana)
Creepy Hat: this one from a Lakota elder’s home on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. That’s not a black eye. That’s a metal washer.
Sturgis Bike Week Hat: Not a Hell’s Angel, Bandito, an Outlaw or a Pagan. I think he owned a construction company. (Hill City, South Dakota)
Skip’s Hat: Not a Hell’s Angel, Bandito, an Outlaw or a Pagan. No, this is Skip Beach. Last I spoke with Skip, he was hauling honey bees. (Beach, North Dakota)

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go put on my Fund Raiser’s hat.  Of course I’m going to hit you up for 20 bucks!

Seriously, if you’d like to help finish the Lost Sea Expedition, just hit that Donate button. Our production deadline is October 16, 2017. That’s when the completed series gets turned in to Rocky Mountain PBS. We still need to cover the significant costs of audio engineering, color correction and insurance.

Don’t worry. We’ll be sure everyone who’s chipped in gets to check out the final result, regardless of where you live.










Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.