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Sixteen cases of whiskey, camping equipment, food, and four people were in the car. They sat on dynamite and waved goodbye to the neighbors and pulled out boldly through the town on the road to Fort Benton, and at Fort Benton, back in a dusty alley behind a warehouse, they picked up the loaded trailer carrying fourteen more cases of whiskey, and crossed the Missouri and started south.... Eventually, that night, they wound up in the pass above where Bo had been hijacked in November. (364)…


The sun was orange over Buckhorn Ridge. I was working along a deer trail, noting old elk signs. The trail followed a shelf along the mountain, a southern exposure, with aspens above and below me....It was the time of day, late in the afternoon, when you are most likely to see all sorts of animals, though because of the strong wind, I did not think I would see any. Sometimes the wind was in my face, but other times it quartered from upslope, from the north. The aspen leaves were beautiful, shading to bright yellow, and they rattled in that strong wind. (56)…


Here, on the crest of the ridge in full exposure to the sun and the winter storms, lie the few acres of graves. How many graves for a town the size of Denton is always my first thought, and how unsheltered is my second....Although the oldest graves go back only about seventy-five years, many are marked with wooden headboards by families who could not afford stones, and their names and dates have weathered to illegibility. (199-200)…


It was two o'clock in the morning when Bo hit the outskirts of Great Falls. Through the uncurtained front of the car the air was cold, with a faint remembrance of leaf-fires in its smell. Across the river on his left, the high stack of the copper smelter went up like a great dark lamp chimney above the huddled houses of Little Chi. Downriver he could see a glow of light from the power station on Rainbow Falls. (333)…


The Yaak is a tiny river, but an important one, especially with the loss of the upper Kootenai River (and now extinct Ural Valley) to the wretched dam that formed Lake Koocanusa, in order to send more juice to California. The Yaak flows from four forks down into what remains of the Kootenai, a river that reminds one of the Mississippi. And the Kootenai then flows, Yaak-laden, into the Columbia, where it becomes fragmented by dams—lakes where salmon once ran wild. It boggles my mind to stand in one of the cedar forests high in the mountains of Yaak and watch a creek—say, Fix Creek—go trickling down through the forest, a foot wide and a foot deep—and to picture it being received by the Yaak, a…


I was pretty sure I knew almost to the mile where Abraham had sat in his buggy on a winter night in late 1902 or early 1903....I knew where to find his road, and these things I knew not so much spatially, geographically, as internally, as I might slowly recognize a map of my own arteries. Abraham had seen the bluffs and running water of my childhood, of my father's childhood, and, in the act of writing about them, had told me he saw what I saw in a way that transcended style. Surely, if I kept transcribing, I might learn something about the magnet pull of place, perhaps even how to break it. (21)…


The driver of an automobile on a lonely road is a set of perceptions mounted in the forehead of a mechanical monster.... The streets of Belt, a few men on the sidewalk before a poolhall, their breath white under the arc light; a block of stores, square false fronts, then shacks, weeds, sweet clover fields, the town dump, the highway again. Little towns were all alike. You could be dropped into any one of them anywhere and swear you’d lived there one time or another. (349)…


Some nights my heart pounds so hard in anger that in the morning when I wake up it is sore, as if it has been rubbing against my ribs—as if it has worn a place in them as smooth as the stones beneath a waterfall. Sometimes a calm, smooth, placid expression can harbor more fury than an angular, twisted one. And sometimes serenity can harbor more power than anger or even fury. I know that and I'm trying to get there—to peace, and its powers—but I just don't seem able to. The river keeps falling. The sound of it, in my ears. (66)…


We started at the Duck Creek school, where my father had gone. It was eight miles away, out of our district, but our own school lay on the other side of the Judith River and was out of the question. Getting us to Duck Creek meant a twice-daily drive, often through gumbo mud or snow. Our dirt road twisted up through the cutbanks, teetered along the edge of the bluffs, and cut across the prairie under the butte where the snow blew and drifted in the winter, when chaining up and shoveling through the drifts could make the trip an hour or more, each way. (52-53)…


Entering Neihart, up in the pine woods, he eased up on the throttle, looking for a garage where he might get gas, a café where he could wash away the fuzzy feeling in his head with a cup of coffee. There was only one garage, with two gas drums on wooden supports and another drum marked "Oil." As he pulled in he caught the reflection from the headlights of a car parked against the side, facing out. He swung a little to bring his lights on it. Empty.... His mind instantly alert and suspicious, Bo dug a couple of silver dollars from his pocket and laid them in the garage man’s hand. Two men, driving a back road at night, parking nose out by a garage wall, didn’t look good. (353)…

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