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With his unique blend of intrepidity, tongue-in-cheek humor, and wide-eyed wonder, Ian Frazier takes us on a journey of more than 25,000 miles up and down and across the vast and myth-inspiring Great Plains. A travelogue, a work of scholarship, and a western adventure, Great Plains takes us from the site of Sitting Bull's cabin, to an abandoned house once terrorized by Bonnie and Clyde, to the scene of the murders chronicled in Truman Capote's In Cold Blood. It is an expedition that reveals the heart of the American West.
the flatland along the river, water came above the wheel wells. Grasses waved in the wake the truck left. “This ain’t tough—not for my pickup,” Tom said. We sped right up to the Sitting Bull monument. I hopped out, walked over, plucked a leaf from the bur oak above it. * * * My old friend George Scott. He is a rancher who lives southwest of Casper, Wyoming. (He is the same one who told me about the “early-man tools.”) George and I became friends in college. In the riots in the spring of 1970,
long, low cow barn with a green roof. Alongside the driveway are tractors, pickups, a three-wheel motorcycle with a shovel strapped across the back, tanks of gas and diesel for ranch vehicles, bent pieces of irrigation pipe which somebody ran over by mistake, horse trailers, kids’ bikes, stray hay bales, sleeping or running dogs, and an old sheepherders’ wagon, which looks like a mini covered wagon. Beyond George’s house, the driveway crosses an irrigation ditch and heads off into fields of
On,” by George Jones and Tammy Wynette; “Hold On Loosely,” by .38 Special; “Holdin’ On to Yesterday,” by Ambrosia; “Holdin’ On to the Love I’ve Got,” by Barbara Mandrell; “Hold On (Don’t You Be Sad Tonight, Love Will Be There)” by Gail Davies; “Hold On,” by Santana; “Hand to Hold On to,” by John Cougar-Mellencamp; “Baby, Hold On,” by Eddie Money; “I’ll Keep Holdin’ On,” by Jim Capaldi; “Hold On, Baby, Hold On,” by Kansas; “Hold on to Your Dreams,” by Billy Thorpe; or “Hold on Tight to Your Dream
there can be some leeway. Take yourself, for example: your canvas shirt, denim trousers, leather belt, notebook, pencil; about the only thing you wouldn’t’ve had back in 1840 would be the hard rubber soles on your hiking boots. I am opposed to air mattresses at a rendezvous, personally. If you have to have them, cover them with a hide or a blanket. Same goes for coolers. And then there’s other things which are just ridiculous—rawhide beer-can holders, for example. People say the trappers would’ve
could without being presumptuous. Unlike tourists in rest stops, truck drivers seem careful about slamming doors and gunning engines late at night. Sometimes the truck I had gone to sleep next to would quietly leave and another would quietly pull in. One morning when I woke up a semi-trailer full of pickup-truck camper tops had been replaced by a stock truck. On the truck’s door, in big letters, a poem: Buck Hummer Hog Hauler In Colorado, Highways 71 and 36 make a big cross on the map when