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Hemingway Adventure

Kalispell, Montana

Kalispell, Montana, USA 
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'Wrist and elbow'. All you need to remember when throwing a lasso, according to Ken, my rope coach.
Michael Palin - Hemingway AdventureEllen and Leo Hargrave bought the 1400-acre ranch in 1968. It lies in a wide valley surrounded by distant mountains, an expanse of peacefulness, but not total isolation. There’s a micro-brewery across the meadow, with two private planes parked outside, and some buildings tucked in amongst the trees about a mile down the valley.

Leo Hargrave is in his eighties, a good bit older and a good bit shorter than his wife. He has a similar mischievous twinkle in the eye which suggests that he doesn’t take everything too seriously, but a compact, wiry body and well-worn dusty jeans suggest that he’s dead serious about the farm. The fact that a man who flew missions for the USAF in the closing years of the Second World War should still be a working farmer seems to infect all us dudes and even as the first awkward introductions are made you can already feel city cares sliding off shoulders.

The word ‘dude’ may be politely taken to mean a guest but it also implies a non-Westerner, an urban American who wants to sample the Wild West without getting too wild. The age of the computer seems only to have increased the appeal of the cowboy, and many of my fellow-guests picked Hargrave Ranch off the Internet. For Leo and Ellen the dudes are not just a casual sideline, they’re an economic necessity at a time when relatively small, traditional, environmentally friendly farms like theirs find it hard to fight the big boys.
Kalispell, Montana, USA 
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Beginner's luck. I catch an award-winning BBC cameraman with my first throw.
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  • Series: Hemingway Adventure
  • Chapter: Kalispell, Montana
  • Country/sea: USA
  • Place: Kalispell, Montana
  • Book page no: 244

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