“Because It’s There”

52 Pick-up 2.0, #45 – 11/10/2020

“I seem to recall that Walt and Henry got into trouble golfing one time, but you don’t strike me as a golfer. What recreational activities do you take part in?”
-June Anderson

Hi June,

I ranch, so there’s no such thing as recreation… Just kidding.

No, I don’t golf, but my wife does; she even won the women’s division of the Mike Schmitt Tournament back in Philadelphia when she lived there. Me, I prescribe to the Mark Twain adage that “golf is a good walk spoiled”.

There are lots of things I do enjoy—fishing, horseback riding, mountain climbing.

In my youth I climbed in South America, Europe, Asia, and there are a few peaks I’d still like to bag even though I’m getting a little old for that stuff. I’d enjoy seeing the base camp for Everest even though I think climbing it is behind me—I’d just like to have a look at the tallest mountain in the world with my own eyes.

I like being outside. We’re getting those last gasps of fall here in Wyoming, and anybody who’s lived here any length of time, knows what’s coming. I love the bittersweet aspect of the season when the skies grow darker earlier, leaves are falling, and the air has a crisp feel to it. Snow is already encroaching on the Bighorn Mountains, and they’ll always be the reason I live where I do.

I remember when I was building the ranch—I’d look up and see the tallest mountain in the Bighorn Range, Cloud Peak (13,171’), and think how can people live down here and not want to go up there? Once I got the ranch built, I did, and have summited Cloud Peak and some of the others numerous times over the years, sometimes even alone, which drives my wife crazy.

It’s not the most technical of climbs, weather permitting, and I used a lot of those experiences in Hell Is Empty when Walt is chasing escaped criminals into the Cloud Peak Wilderness Area. I guess most of the things I do lead me to isolated places, which is interesting in that I generally enjoy the company of people. I guess it’s a way of recharging my batteries like nothing else does. When you’re involved in an outdoor activity like horseback riding, fly-fishing, or mountain climbing it demands a certain amount of concentration, and I guess that’s another attraction. The writing is always on my mind, even then, or if not then, then later when I’m assessing the experience. Everything is grist for the mill, and I guess that’s telling.

Artists and photographers see the world in a very different way, and I guess that’s true for writers as well. My wife, Judy, is more of an artist and sees the world in colors and light, but I experience the world in words, and the way I can use those words so that the reader can be a part of the experience.

The writing swallows me up every day, and I have to guard against being a one-note-Johnnie, so sometimes it’s something as simple as splitting wood or walking the dog.

But maybe not golf.

See you on the trail,


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