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Copyright 2013 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

 

Dog Hair & Mule Sweat  

with Natalie Riehl

editor@rockymountainrider.com

 

October 2013 issue  

 

     We’re planning a short trip to central Montana to visit the locales in a couple of books I have recently read. I love tracking history and Rick enjoys taking photos of historical sites.

     So, I’ve gotten out my pile of maps, which include state, county, Forest Service, BLM and general tourist maps. (They don’t call me “Map Girl” for nothing!) On the walls of the office, we have those wonderful plastic raised-relief maps where all the mountains poke out, and we can clearly see the topography of the states.

     I am grateful to the Bears Paw Mountains-area rancher who, back in 1996, told me about the Montana Gazetteer, which shows all the back roads not found on the state highway map. The series fascinates me and we now own Gazetteers of all the states where we distribute RMR.

     Part of my sense of place is the picture of where I am on my mental map. I zoom in and out, and was doing it long before one could access maps on the internet. I visualize where I am in the state, where the state is in relation to the country, and if I zoom out far enough, I see a globe.

     When I travel to a town where I’ll be spending a day or two, my first compulsion is to find the Chamber of Commerce and buy a map.

     I adore the 3-D maps they use on the TV weather news, and how they’ll fly the viewer under the clouds and over lakes, mountains and rivers.

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     Where did I get this fascination about maps? My dad. He was a big hiker, and had topo maps for every peak he climbed. He always kept a map close at hand when we drove anywhere.

     In 1987, he and I drove through the Colorado mountains. It was the last trip he and I would make together. It was a lovely, mid-summer’s day, with lots of blue sky and white clouds in the sky above.

     He rode in the passenger seat, navigating and clutching the map, and referring to it every minute or so. After a couple of hours, I was desperate to see where we were, so I pulled over to the side of the road and asked him if I could look at the map.

     “What? You don’t trust me?” he exclaimed, greatly affronted and a little ticked off.

     I paused for a moment before responding. I grinned. “Hey, I’ve got your genes,” I explained. “I’m just like you! I have to see the map!”

     He laughed and immediately understood… and handed me the map.

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     The books I have recently read are: “Charlie Russell: The Cowboy Years,” by Jane Lambert which recounts the years 1882-1893 that Charlie Russell worked as cowboy (see the excerpt “Bronc to Breakfast” in this issue of RMR); the other is a re-read of Ivan Doig’s novel “Bucking the Sun,” which is centered around the Duff family during the building of the Fort Peck Dam in the 1930s during the darkest days of the Depression.

     I’m eager to explore the historic “open range” territory of the Judith Basin (which I’ve only whisked through before on the highway); and to visit the Fort Peck Dam and envision the numerous boom towns of tar-paper shacks which the dam’s work force built on the prairie to house their families.

     I hope you are enjoying some fine, fall weather!

                                             

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Copyright 2013 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

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PO Box 995 • Hamilton, MT 59840 • 888-747-1000  •  406-363-4085 • info@rockymountainrider.com