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July 4, 1861: San Juan Bautista

July 4, 2011

Mission Cafe

Mission Cafe, San Juan Bautista; by eviloars, on Flickr

Camp 38

The “Glorious Fourth” is at hand, but I am quiet in camp, and alone. All have gone into town to celebrate. Yesterday, while hammering a very hard rock, to get out a fossil, a splinter of the stone struck me in the eye and hurt it some. It is by no means serious, but somewhat painful, and I, therefore, will keep quiet in camp today to prevent any inflammation or bad turn. With a handkerchief bound over it, it feels quite comfortable, and I apprehend nothing serious. I have one eye left for writing….

Peter acts the part of cook now until we can get another suitable person. Would that he could be induced to keep the office. He is as neat and skilful as if he had served an apprenticeship in a French restaurant. We had a sumptuous dinner, but with few courses. With his revolver he had shot a large hare, which was served up in splendid style.

On our arrival in the state last fall we met a Doctor Cooper, who was very anxious to get the place as zoölogist to our Survey or as an assistant in that department. He was a young man, scarcely my age, but had been over most of the United States, had crossed the plains several times, had seen much of California, and all of Washington and Oregon. He had written a large book (with Doctor Sulkley) on the Natural Productions of Washington Territory, was well posted in his department, was a man of more than ordinary intellect and zeal in science, but I fear not a very companionable fellow in camp. He was employed during the winter as surgeon at Fort Mohave, on the desert on the southeastern border, and Professor Whitney employed him to collect plants and make observations for us there. He was just returning to San Francisco by stage, when he stopped over night here, and we most unexpectedly met him last night. I think Professor Whitney will employ him, at least for a time. I have got many items for him, and he has collected some four or five hundred species of plants from the deserts for me.

This place is very dull for the day; everybody has gone to Watsonville, fourteen miles distant, where there is a celebration. Peter burnished his harness, harnessed the mules, and with flags on their heads, has gone to town in patriotic style. But it is hot here; the daily breeze has not yet sprung up, the flag droops lazily from our tent, and the thermometer is 85° to 90° in the tent. About noon the breeze will begin and it will be cooler.

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