Trail Talk Blog

The Business of Fun

What is your job title? Are you a sales manager, vice-president, chief cook and bottle washer? Most businesses assign titles without much thought, relying mostly on old standbys. Some actually think a fancy designation is an acceptable substitute for a raise! I am fortunate to work in a business that… read more >

Seeing the Elephant

“Seeing the elephant”, I’m told, is a purely American phrase which gained popularity in the early 19th century. Coincidentally, the first circuses reached these shores from Europe in the 1830’s and they invariably included exotic animals that no American had ever seen. They were HUGE – almost overwhelming – and… read more >

Forgotten History

Andrew Carroll in his excellent new book (Here is Where) about what he calls America’s “forgotten history”, raises the question about the difficulty of learning from history when so much of it is either mis-remembered, or worse, just plain invented. Personal memoirs are particularly suspect because the author often has… read more >

Time Travel

One of my ever-lasting passions is for movies which toy with the space-time continuum, or time travel. There are tons of them out there, so many that they can even be broken down into sub-categories. But the reason Hollywood keeps making them (and movie-goers keep watching them) is the very… read more >

Valley of A Thousand Smokes

When I was growing up on my grandparents’ ranch in the Black Hills of South Dakota, one of our favorite hikes was to what everybody referred to as “the moonshiner’s cabin”. Being teetotalers of the highest order, the older generation was deliberately vague about just what a moonshiner was, and… read more >

The Augury

I saw a robin last week. Forgive me for stating the obvious: It is January. On the northern plains. The temperature hasn’t been above freezing in about a decade. I don’t remember the last time I saw the ground. This is the kind of weather when – in a long-ago… read more >

Founding Fathers

History teachers and trivia buffs are fond of posing trick questions to their respective audiences. So here goes: I was leafing through a magazine article about the many restored Virginia homes of our founding fathers recently and when I got to James Monroe, our fifth president, I learned that not… read more >

American Heritage

My grandfather was an original subscriber to American Heritage Magazine, the classy hardbound history magazine written and edited by some of America’s most distinguished historians and scholars of the fifties and sixties. Civil War historian Bruce Catton, was the founding editor, and remained at his post for many years. David… read more >

The Tradition of Pow Wow

October is Pow Wow month in the Black Hills, when one of the largest pow wows in North America is held annually. For various reasons – including recent health challenges – it has been a number of years since I attended this or any other pow wow. I had forgotten… read more >

Sherman Alexie

When I fall in love with an author – which I do with some regularity – it is passionately, deeply, obsessively. I set out immediately to devour every literary morsel he or she has ever written. Typically I cannot contain my enthusiasm and extol the author’s virtues to everybody I… read more >

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