Of all the memories I have of Randy Bister, the most vivid is watching him pull into camp one year at work week on his motorcycle, which he had ridden over mountain passes and through rainstorms from Washington to Colorado — I was extremely jealous.
I think it’s easy for us to misrepresent Randy by describing his hobbies. Doing so basically presents this caricature of masculinity, which isn’t altogether unfitting, but I don’t think anyone would mistake Randy Bister for Clint Eastwood. He’s not some hardened, scowling cynic. In fact, I can hardly remember him without his face cleaved in half by an enormous smile. There’s a kind of unadulterated, childlike thirst for adventure in him. I once watched him sprint after a full-grown mountain lion armed only with a pocket knife.
I think of all his interests, the one that always stood out to me the most was that he used to ride broncos in the rodeo. There’s an irony in that. Bronco riding was born out of horse breaking skills and then there’s Randy, who had a completely untamed spirit. I’m not sure anything can truly break him. Not even cancer. And sure enough, in every photo I’ve seen of him in the hospital, he’s got that giant grin on his face. And I’m sure if a mountain lion walked past his window, he would giddily try to run after it.
I wish cancer wasn’t the adventure he has to endeavor but I can’t imagine anyone better suited for the challenge.