Cowboy Jam Session: Western Culture News & Reviews |

Cowboy Jam Session: Western Culture News & Reviews

June 2008
Cowboy Jam Session |

Trying to get away between haying and harvest is hard enough without stratospheric fuel prices. Near-$4/gallon gas could deflate all but the most pressing travel plans. Rabid news reporters are quizzing consumers on how they’re cutting corners, cutting back, preparing for the next torturous trip to the pump.

The answers aren’t exactly cutting edge: Families are cooking from scratch and eating at home. They’re baking bread, planting gardens, stocking up on sale items. (One desperate Lois Lane, trying to make the most of the situation, labeled buying and freezing sale-priced beef, pork and chicken as “food hoarding.”) Folks are walking, riding bikes, riding horses, sharing rides. They’re spending weekends at home, discovering the backyard, reconnecting with family, meeting their neighbors, and driving slower.

Which brings me to Baxter Black’s audio book, Released in 2007 and touted as “the best-selling rodeo novel ever written,” Baxter presents the adventures of Lick and Cody on their quest to qualify for the finals – in its unabridged entirety. Notice I didn’t say he “reads” the book. It’s more like theater of the mind. Kudos to producers Brent Reason and Gail Steiger.

I took the seven-CD, PG-13 rated book on a recent trip. Unable to find a run time on the package, I wondered how much of the tale my husband, Rob, and I would hear. Then I saw it printed on the case: “Almost 450 miles of listenin’!” But, traveling at what speed, I wondered.

Baby calves were soaking up the sun as we headed west with Baxter. It was much like a trip in 1989 when Rob and I met Baxter at the Rapid City, SD airport for an in-car interview en route to Winner, SD. As was the case then, laughter filled the car and the miles fell quickly behind us. It occurred to me that there should be a warning on the case: “Listening to this book while driving may constitute a hazard slightly less dangerous than painting your toenails, reading a book, or using a cell phone.”

We interrupted Baxter and stopped at the Basque coffee shop in Miles City, MT. I knew he’d second the motion. Back on the road, eagles glided along the Yellowstone River, a military honor guard presided over a burial at Custer, bulls lolled in a pasture awaiting turnout. We were engrossed in Lick and Cody’s quest for the finals.

Returning home, I took my question regarding Baxter’s mathematical computations to the “arthur” himself and was told that the 450 miles of listenin’ is at 75 mph. By my calculations, that’s 420 miles at 70 mph; if you slow down to 65 mph, it’s 390 miles. Of course, your mileage may vary. Even if gas is expensive, it will hurt less while listening to Order your copy online at or send $29.95 to Coyote Cowboy Company, PO Box 2190, Benson, AZ 85602; 1-800-654-2550.

Despite what’s happening with fuel, I expect a full house in Cody, WY, for Brian Lebel’s Cody Old West Show & Auction. The auction is Thurs., June 26; the show Fri.-Sat., June 27-28. A 144-page, full-color sale catalog arrived in my mailbox last week. Gracing the cover is an 1870s Mexican saddle made for a wealthy vintner in the Republic of Mexico (estimated selling price: $50,000-$100,000). Decorated with cactus fiber and silver, it is exquisite!

Also pictured are a Missouri River and Black Hills Stage Company ticket; Winchester 1876 Serial #4; original artwork by Will James, O.C. Seltzer, Edward Borein; 27 first-edition Will James books; 1889 Colt Navy revolver with Furstnow and Coggshall holster, once the property of Texas Ranger and first sheriff of Miles City, MT, Bill Hawkins; Luis B. Ortega quirt; J.A. Garrett’s (Johnson County War) Colt. Saddles carry the marks of such makers as Shipley, Visalia, Meanea, Frasier and Bohlin. There’s even one with an AM radio built into the pommel. As a kid, I dreamed of just such a thing.

I’ve attended the event on several occasions and give it two spurs up. But, if a trip to Cody doesn’t fit within your budget, order yourself a copy of the catalog. It’s a great reference that you’ll pick up again and again. Order online at or send $30 to Cody Old West Auction, PO Box 2038, Carefree, AZ 85377; (307) 587-9014.


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