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Know the West


  "Western road maps are full of old trails: the Lewis and Clark Trail, the Oregon Trail, the Sante Fe Trail, the Outlaw Trail, and the Nez Perce Trail. Their vague lines connect the West that was to the West that is. They may even stretch to the West we imagine will be. But underneath them, there is a real West. A place as real as barbed wire, as actual as a pickup truck stuck in a winter ditch." - from Benjamin Long's Backtracking: By Foot, Canoe, and Subaru on the Lewis and Clark Trail.

Almost two centuries after Lewis and Clark traveled across the West, Benjamin Long and his wife, Karen, sold their home and possessions and quit their jobs to explore the rough American wilderness that Long had dreamed of as a child. The result is a 256-page book that takes the reader through sun-baked plains in search of prairie dogs, up a trail criss-crossed with fallen trees - almost 200 in one mile - to see a moose, and down the Missouri River to find bison.

But this is not a guidebook. Long weaves tales of Lewis and Clark's exploration with facts about the West's wildlife and his own stories of encounters with wild animals - and the wild animals he didn't see.

Backtracking: By Foot, Canoe, and Subaru on the Lewis and Clark Trail is $23.95 from Sasquatch Books (800/775-0817) or www.SasquatchBooks.com.

Copyright 2000 HCN and Beth Wohlberg