++ the pioneers used to ride these babies for miles

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Stagecoach disciplinarian Burrel “Buckshot” Rambo Maier tells his cargo, a ancestors of three, that it’s his aboriginal day on the job and he’s “a little nervous” as a brace of trotting horses affairs the drillmaster commence aloft the bumpiest amplitude of their journey. The wagon jostles and dust flies, but the horses’ abiding amble and the driver’s aged bristles accomplish the newbie act adamantine to believe. The ancestors giggles and Maier block a sly smile.

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Maier has been active stagecoaches in Yosemite for added than 40 years, assignment he started at age 16. He’s the alone stagecoach driver/park forester in the National Esplanade Service, a appellation he’s actual appreciative of.

When you accommodated Burrel, you see article accurate and get a glimpse of what bodies were like 100 years ago. He is still embodying that in a avant-garde way.

Kansas Carradine of acquaintance Burrel “Buckshot” Rambo Maier

The red-and-yellow stagecoach, “his office,” is the acme jewel of the Avant-garde Yosemite History Center. The array of cabins is accomplished by a covered arch forth the south angle of the Merced River in Wawona, a almost quiet bend of the esplanade abroad from the bustle of Yosemite Valley. Maier uses the stagecoach as a fast and fun way to allotment history that he carefully understands.

“Burrel absolutely is one of Yosemite’s allegorical employees. … His adulation of Yosemite is contagious,” says authoritative esplanade forester Dean Shenk, who has formed with Maier aback the 1970s.

One of Maier’s adolescent passengers, 10-year-old Alex Varner of Arizona, is so afflicted that he says he’d save his money for two years to buy a stagecoach of his own if it amount what it did in the backward 1800s – about $350.

“I could ride about on that afore I’m 16,” Alex says enthusiastically, “and again you don’t accept to buy a $5,000 car. … You can aloof assignment a lot of chores, get your wagon, and ride abroad and accept fun!”

With his appellation on the stagecoach, Burrel “Buckshot” Rambo Maier has been alms rides as Wawona’s stagecoach disciplinarian in Yosemite National Park. Photographed Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017

ERIC PAUL ZAMORA ezamora@fresnobee.com

During Maier’s stagecoach season, bounce through fall, he lives in a bunkhouse by the river in Wawona that was already inhabited by a abundance lion. In winter, he settles into a berth on a agronomical in Exeter in the axial San Joaquin Valley, area he looks afterwards the four horses that cull Yosemite’s stage.

He’s befriended antecedents like the backward Wawona Washburn Hartwig, whose ancestor endemic the celebrated Wawona Hotel (now alleged the Big Trees Lodge), and he acclimated to drive a stagecoach that belonged to Galen Clark, the iconic charlatan and guardian of Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove of Behemothic Sequoias.

Yosemite is apple acclaimed for the accustomed things, but we additionally accept an absurd history.

Supervisory Esplanade Forester Dean Shenk

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Maier says the best advantageous allotment of his job is “keeping it going.” The 61-year-old is now the park’s abandoned abettor of a approach of busline that was active in the aegis of Yosemite and closing conception of the National Esplanade Service. Among the millions who accept ventured into Wawona – already the park’s busiest stagecoach stop – was President Theodore Roosevelt during his acclaimed 1903 cruise that included camping below behemothic sequoias with conservationist John Muir.

Burrel “Buckshot” Rambo Maier drives the stagecoach with Ron Townsend acting as swamper beside him crosses the board arch to aces up new cartage in Wawona, Yosemite National Park, Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017.

ERIC PAUL ZAMORA ezamora@fresnobee.com

Maier reminds visitors of what a cruise to Yosemite already required: 36 hours of biking by alternation and stagecoach from San Francisco to Wawona, again eight hours by date from Wawona to Yosemite Valley with four stops forth the way to change horses. “That’s 16 arch (horses) to go 27 afar one way.”

By contrast, a drive from Wawona to Yosemite Valley today takes beneath than an hour. Alex marvels at the aberration and how the apparatus of the stagecoach led to the automobile.

The ride is ageless.

Burrel “Buckshot” Rambo Maier about active the Yosemite stagecoach

Maier additionally passes on his ability to schoolchildren through a Esplanade Service Environmental Living Program. He believes that “history is absolutely important because you are accustomed on the attitude of life.”

A ride with Maier is educational, but aloft all, entertaining. In appearance as Buckshot the stagecoach driver, he sometimes tells bodies that he’s analytic for a wife. “You got to accept all your teeth, be able to baker and sew, I accomplish $40 a month, and I booty a ablution already a ceremony whether I charge it or not.”

A Girl Scouts of Northern California Backing Interest Group (BIG) exits afterwards a ride with Burrel “Buckshot” Rambo Maier, Wawona’s stagecoach disciplinarian in Yosemite National Esplanade on Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017.

ERIC PAUL ZAMORA ezamora@fresnobee.com

He follows a austere accepted in caring for the horses and charwoman the barn and corral, and he advisers a brand red shirt, suspenders, wide-brimmed cowboy hat, and bandage angry about his close – consistently silk. (Cowboys abrasion cottony and farmers abrasion cotton, he explains, matter-of-factly.)

“It’s absolutely a cruise with a appearance out of the Old West,” says acquaintance David Manchester, “molded by bodies in his adolescence who were in the Old West.”

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Some of it’s an act, but overall, “on the job and off the job, it’s appealing abundant the aforementioned guy,” says addition friend, C.M. Wilhoit.

He’s the absolute deal.

Dale Halderman of acquaintance Burrel “Buckshot” Rambo Maier

“He’s consistently animated,” says acquaintance Kansas Carradine, “but it’s authentic, it’s not fake. He absolutely cares acutely about the American West and history and attention our heritage.”

This concern, and his ability for performance, was absolute by his father, Tommy Maier, a Hollywood achievement addition and antagonism cowboy with a ambush benumbed and roping show, the Riata Agronomical Cowboy Girls, which toured internationally.

As a boy, Burrel Maier performed in a Wild West appearance at his father’s Riata Agronomical horseback benumbed camp, which operated out of Exeter and Bass Lake, aloof south of Yosemite. Maier’s appellation of Buckshot was able during the skits, aback he was occasionally accidentally attempt with a aerosol of low-intensity pellets while assuming to be a gold-seeking prospector.

Burrel “Buckshot” Rambo Maier, the babyish boy at the right, rides a babyish albatross in a chase at Hollywood Park.

CAROL SHEETZ Special to The Bee

His stagecoach training can be traced aback to childhood, aback he got about by active a babyish barrow pulled by a donkey. Polio fabricated walking a challenge, but leg braces and surgeries couldn’t accumulate him from adequate a absurd childhood. Exotic animals acclimated in Hollywood movies were generally larboard at the Riata Agronomical by a ancestors friend, including a adolescent bobcat that lazed about the property. Burrel already raced on the aback of a babyish albatross adjoin his earlier brother, Clay, perched on an ostrich.

Clay says his brother affiliated their father’s adroitness and drive to accomplish bodies happy. “Burrel makes abiding aback they get on the stagecoach, they get their dollar’s worth.”

Maier became Yosemite’s stagecoach disciplinarian in the aboriginal 1970s, replacing Clay, who he had started animate with at age 14. Clay was the aboriginal to authority the column at the avant-garde history center, active the stagecoach for a few years afore activity on to biking as a antagonism cowboy and trainer with a horse appearance that toured internationally.

“Now I appetite my job back,” Clay says with a laugh.

Maier has no affairs of accommodating that request. Stagecoach active is adamantine work, but Maier has never apparent it as a job. It’s a passion, one he hopes to still be adequate in old age. He loves aggregate about actuality in Wawona, alike charwoman up “road apples” – his horses’ manure.

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“I’ve committed my activity to this and it’s paid off wonderfully,” he says. “I’m still happy.”

He’s a different individual. They bankrupt the cast afterwards they fabricated that man.

Fred Gill of acquaintance Burrel “Buckshot” Rambo Maier

A new stagecoach and horses purchased by the Yosemite Conservancy a brace years ago, forth with a access about-face underway, are allowance accumulate the dream alive.

“It’s like a violin,” he says of the stagecoach and horses. “You tune the violin to accomplish it complete good, and appropriate now I’m acquainted up appealing good.”

Maier’s affection was on affectation for millions to see during the 2016 New Year’s Day Rose Parade, area he collection the stagecoach in a advance adulatory the 100th ceremony of the National Esplanade Service.

Burrel “Buckshot” Rambo Maier collection his stagecoach in the 2016 New Year’s Day Rose Parade in a advance adulatory the 100th ceremony of the National Esplanade Service.

CAROL SHEETZ Special to The Bee

His continued account of amazing adventures includes active a traveling donkey basketball program, area accouchement played basketball while benumbed donkeys; staging a pretend coffer robbery as a fundraiser for a bounded charity; and benumbed a horse in an Indiana Jones-inspired achievement during a 49ers football bold halftime appearance at Candlestick Park. But of all the bright things he’s done, there’s annihilation he loves added than actuality Yosemite’s stagecoach driver.

Carradine says Maier embodies “the American ethics that I anticipate we could use a little added of today: Honesty, adamantine work, integrity, demography affliction of attributes and absolute friendship, camaraderie.”

Sitting appropriately in the access afterwards addition day active the stagecoach, Maier says definitively, “It aloof don’t get no bigger than this.”

How to ride the stagecoach

Stagecoach driver/park forester Burrel “Buckshot” Rambo Maier offers 12- to 15-minute stagecoach rides from 2 to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday through Sunday in Yosemite’s Wawona. Afterwards Labor Day, stagecoach rides are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Oct. 8. Tickets are $5 for adults and $4 for accouchement and can be purchased at the Wells Fargo architecture aural the Avant-garde Yosemite History Centermost in Wawona.

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