Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Expect The Unexpected in Research Trips

I’m gearing up for some research trips. I’ve got my research logs filled out; ready to move in and mine out the smallest details and perhaps, the greatest nuggets!

Research trips don’t always go the way I plan. I hit the road knowing exactly what town, library, courthouse, or museum I will be perusing that day. But a couple of years ago, on a historical research trip to Fairplay, I learned to expect the unexpected.

I drove to Fairplay from my home, arriving at the library around 10:00. The Fairplay Library is in the old Park County Courthouse. This is the very courthouse that my great-great-grandfather Wilburn Christison presided over probate court cases and practiced law. It is always awe-inspiring for me to walk through the doors of this tiny two-story building. That day, I started looking at books.

I hadn’t been there more than 20-30 minutes when I squatted down to look at a book and heard and felt, “RRRIIIIPPPP!” I now had a nice long tear in the rear end of my pants. I was mortified! I looked around to see if anyone had noticed, but nobody else was in the room. My mind started whirling--where could I get a pair of pants in Fairplay? I was pretty sure there wasn’t a store that carried pants. So, I could either go back to Colorado Springs or Denver and give up on my research trip, or I could go to Buena Vista where I figured there was chance of finding a store that sold pants.

I drove to Buena Vista, found an Alco and left feeling much more confident in my new pair of jeans. I decided to drive north to Granite and Leadville, an area I’d never been to. I found the courthouse in Leadville and started looking at old Lake County records, discovering mining claims Wilburn Christison had filed on and mining partnerships. It opened a whole new area of research. So, even when you rip out your pants and have to change your plans and drive much farther than you expected, you never know what new doors will open!

1 comment:

Tanya T. Warrington said...

Very funny story, Gayle!

How do you prepare for a research trip? What does your notebook include?