The day after the hootenanny the crowd that had assembled in Jackson to celebrate John Carney's birthday moved en masse to his family's ranch an hour and a half south of Jackson.  More visitors would arrive later.  We came from places on the map of America about as far flung as possible — from Montana on the Canadian border to Texas on the Mexican border, from Brooklyn on the Atlantic coast to Santa Monica on the Pacific coast, from the mountains of Colorado to the Mojave Desert in Nevada.

It was a bunch of eccentrics, to be sure — which is what made the gathering so much fun.  Hilmar Blumberg, above, sitting on the terrace of one of the homes on the ranch, falls into a very special category of American eccentric — the Texan.

Himar owns a big cattle ranch in central Texas, not far from San Antonio, where he runs about 500 head of the Black Angus breed.  (The Carneys run about the same number of the same breed on their Wyoming spread.)  He's also expanded his business, and made it significantly more profitable, by establishing a hunting camp on his ranch.  But such things do not exhaust Hilmar's energies.

One day he came to the conclusion that the biggest town near his ranch had an illogical street-traffic pattern, so he conducted his own private survey of the ways it might be improved and presented his conclusions to the town council, who forthwith adopted his plan.  Hilmar also studies science, including advanced physics, on his own and in college graduate courses, and spends a lot of time thinking about the cosmic implications of what he's learned.  He is, to top it all off, a connoisseur of fine wines and tequilas and makes a mean margarita, just to keep things in perspective.

I didn't know Hilmar very well at Stanford, where we first met, but we made up for it with some rollicking discussions about “stuff” under the big skies and the stars of Wyoming.

                                                                                              [Photo by Eli Dokson]

He's a gentleman and a scholar, a good horsebacker and a fair demonstration of the proposition that Texas is a world unto itself.