I just finished reading a book titled Seldom Seen – A Journey into the Great Plains by Patrick Dobson. The book is a personal narrative, and tells the story of the author who sets out on a walking journey from his home in Kansas City to Helena, Montana in a quest to see the country, meet people and create an adventure in his life before time (as he sees it) slips away from him. Despite the subtitle, there is very little in the book about the Great Plains – the locations in the book mainly serve as a backdrop for the people he meets along the way as he walks (and catches rides) in a free-wheeling Jack Kerouac On the Road sort of way. The writing is sharp and entertaining, and Dobson does a nice job of letting the people he meets tell the story of the trip through his conversations and interractions with them.
Admittedly, I was hoping that the Great Plains would’ve been more of a major character in the book. It’s too bad because when he does write of the the scenery, he captures its evocative moods well:
“I stumbled sleepy-eyed into a blue and green and brown world of treeless, rolling hills. The sun shone brighter than at home, the land and sky were as deep and wide as I imagined the ocean to be. Windmills spiked the hills here and there. I stood . . . and just stared into space.”
Overall, it’s a good read, and it reminds me of the importance and excitement of getting outside your comfort zone to meet new people and do new things. It is also a reminder of how many good people there are out there (in the Great Plains or anywhere), and how the things that we all have in common amount to something far greater than the things that divide us. This book is a testament to the power of personal adventure, which is what the Great Plains Trail, or any trail for that matter, can be all about.