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Hemingway Adventure

Bozeman, Montana

Montana, USA 
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Montana; rolling, uninhibited and expansive country.
Michael Palin - Hemingway AdventureOn November 1930, when Archie MacLeish flew out to Montana to see his friend Ernest hospitalised in Billings after a serious car crash, it took him two days to get there and he called it ‘the most hair raising flight of my life’.

My first trip to Montana is not much better. Huge thunderstorms in the Mid-West empty the clouds and fill the airports, and by the time we reach Bozeman there is snow on the ground and hardly a room to be had because of parents’ weekend at the university.

I’m told that though Montana is the fourth largest state by area, it has a population of less than eight hundred thousand. This should make for wide open spaces, but tonight downtown Bozeman is like Times Square. The only difference is that they treat you better here. However hectic is the bar or the baggage-hall, no one but yourself is going to hurry you.

By the time I get to bed I haven’t seen a single wide open space but already I feel a deep and inexplicable sense of relaxation.

When he and his friend Bill Horne first came out west in 1928, in a yellow Ford runabout provided for him by Pauline’s ever-generous Uncle Gus, Hemingway found it hard to settle. Though he thought it ‘damned lovely country’, he couldn’t find a dude ranch (a ranch that took paying guests) which suited him. The first one, Folly Ranch, had fifteen girls staying, which was not what he wanted at all (though Bill Horne married one of them). In another he found the peace and solitude too much, and once again confided in Waldo Peirce. ‘Am lonely as a bastard, drank too much last night and feel like anything but work now.’

When he returned with Pauline two years later, they hit upon a ranch called the L-Bar-T on the eastern edge of Yellowstone National Park, just south of the old mining town of Cooke City, Montana. It was run by a Swede, Lawrence Nordquist, who offered them a cabin in the woods with a view of the mountains. Hemingway loved the fishing in the nearby Clarks Fork River and he and Pauline and the family returned to the Nordquist ranch throughout the thirties, until fame and another divorce lured Hemingway to the lusher pastures of Sun Valley, Idaho.
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  • Series: Hemingway Adventure
  • Chapter: Bozeman, Montana
  • Country/sea: USA
  • Place: Bozeman, Montana
  • Book page no: 234

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