Recently, I’ve been able to read an actual book. It’s a little pathetic how excited I am about it. It’s literally been years since I finished a book. I’ve started reading dozens but for one reason or another I never finish them. This particular book holds my interest so well because it takes place in the very place I was born and raised.
Outlaw, is the true story of Claude Dallas. If you didn’t know, Claude Dallas was just a man from Ohio who wanted to live the mountain man life. He dodged the Vietnam draft and became a buckaroo in Northern Nevada, living off the land. He wanted to be truly free, and when two park rangers came to take him in, he killed them.
Everything in this book is familiar to me. The sagebrush, the mountain ranges and creeks, the Owyhee river. Paradise Valley, McDermitt, Winnemucca. The Gem Bar. The hunting and trapping. The cattle and cowboys. The prostitutes and ranches. The gambling and the drinking. The distaste for the law, the grip on old ways. The guns and the lies.
My husband’s great grandfather is mentioned in the book twice as the oldest man in Paradise. His family still owns one of the largest ranches in the area. My dad was also drafted in the Vietnam war. He did everything he could to get out of it and was finally discharged for mental health reasons. I grew up in bars and casinos and our high school mascot was the BUCKAROO. My aunt’s first husband was a basque trapper. There was a pump house out in the back of their place where they hung the pelts: coyote and bobcat. I remember feeling the soft furs and I remember the smell of the tanned hides fondly.
It is definitely a culture and I guess this is mine. The old timers, the way I was raised. We always had guns around but knew they weren’t to be played with. They were always inclusive, but racist as hell. They easily stereotype and they are hardened to such wastes of time as feelings. The land was boss, you have to work to survive in the desert. No one gives it to you.
No, you don’t get to choose where you start out in this world. All you can do is try to be better than you were yesterday and be grateful for the blessings you were given. I’m really excited because I’ve been working on a trilogy of books based on growing up in the west, my journey to quit drinking and heartfelt stories of patients I met working at the hospital during my recovery.
Do you think this is something you would read?