I’ve been digging in the photo albums again, and wound up on the Nevada-Utah border.
This was 2007. I was following the veteran rodeo riders around. Over the course of five or six weeks I watched them, studied them, camped with them and interviewed them, at Panguitch Utah, Wells, and then Wendover Nevada, Came home with enough material to propose a book, a radio show and a TV travel documentary. And got absolutely nowhere. That sort of thing can break a writer’s heart - and send him to seek comfort in e-book land.
They put on their shows in some fantastic locations. Yes, we’re talking back of beyond here, and, yes, when the show arrived they more or less doubled the town’s population. Here they are at Wendover; ladies’ barrel-racing.
And here’s the collection of trailers, horse-boxes, caravans and RVs against a mountain background. You can see why some of the guys - and gals - are hooked; and why working stiffs from Wyoming will devote their precious two-week vacation to busting their balls in the dusty arena.
Wendover sits right alongside the Bonneville Salt Flats, and I made a point of driving out to take a look at the legendary site. I remember reading about Bonneville when I was a schoolboy and the British speedster Donald Campbell was trying to break a record his father had set on the flats in 1935. I remember too watching on TV as his water-speed attempt on Coniston Water ended in a spectacular - and fatal - crash, in January 1967.
I’ve promised myself I’ll go back some day and pick up the threads of that veteran circuit. Just need to get a grubstake together.
Now, what has this joint got to with the rodeo?
Well, Donna’s place, a licensed brothel, sponsors the event at Wells, Nevada. I was invited to the Saturday night party there, and, as a writer gathering material, was obliged to attend. Call it an educational experience - and let it be know that all those good cowboys attended chapel next day.