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    Explorers roaming the Northwest


    © St. Petersburg Times, published October 15, 2000

    In COYOTE NOWHERE, a name taken from Jack Kerouac's book, ON THE ROAD, Holt writes about his experiences in the "true West." It's not the view as we whiz past on the freeway, not, as Holt puts it, the "Californicated" west. He describes what's real, what never was, all the while conveying the wonder and awe of this wild, elegant land. Sometimes euphoric, sometimes cranky, he often laments the human encroachment on the natural world.

    Holt builds the book around fishing stops, sometimes adding to that encroachment himself. Tackling and jerking a 6-inch trout from the water, he impales the hook firmly, only to tear it out again and then congratulate himself for throwing the injured fish back into the stream. Five more fish torn and released and Holt has had a good day. He doesn't need them for food, he explains. He dines instead on beef and potatoes (although on Page 209 he does break down and finally eats trout). Meanwhile, though, he persists in torturing the trout.

    Diers swims in the trout streams, "with the rainbows that seem to have accepted her as one of them," Holt writes, ". . . some of the rainbows rising within 10 feet of her."

    Together, they revisit the western areas that are so much a part of American history. "We lay our bags on the ground," writes Holt, "and let the stars put us away. Owls boom and packs of wild dogs talk among themselves, sounding like jazz canine style." Even today, many animals still roam the West: coyotes, antelope, deer, eagles, badgers, brown recluse spiders, rattlesnakes. There are still some remnant herds of buffalo.

    Whooping and hollering all the way, savoring the beauty, seeing reality and remembering yesterday, they have a great trip. Near the Canadian border, Holt's voice waxes lyrical as he describes the northern lights: "A thin line of blue light, pure blue, shimmers just above the land and begins to explode into bursts of charged clouds."

    COYOTE NOWHERE, in fact, would be perfect companion on a trip to the Northwest Territories if it only had a map, more of Diers' photography and a little less carping.

    - Niela Eliason is a St. Petersburg writer.



    By John Holt and Ginny Diers

    St. Martin's Press, $24.95

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