Debut memoir by a woman who turned her back on her “rich and respectable Presbyterian upbringing” to live a simpler life in the Oregon wilderness.
North Dakota native Royes always knew she was different from the members of her Midwestern family. When her parents asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, her response was “a park ranger.” Her waywardness manifested first as a constant need for movement; then, at age 17, she ran away, convinced that her future lay “somewhere beyond the last grain silo.” After four years of intermittent cross-country rambling, Royes decided to live in an old Oregon schoolhouse her friends were renovating outside of Eugene, where the author had been studying animal science. There, she met a young Vietnam veteran named Skip whose gypsy spirit and authenticity immediately attracted her. Within a week of meeting him, Royes had consented to joining Skip on a trek into the remote but ruggedly beautiful Hells Canyon region of Eastern Oregon. With a small pack train of horses and no set agenda, the pair set off into the wilderness, where they discovered nature and each other with “a sort of childlike delight.” Along the way, they took jobs as sheepherders and horse wranglers and faced the dangers and delights of an untamed world. They learned to love each other through hardship and setbacks, including an unplanned pregnancy that, out of understanding for Skip and his lack of readiness for commitment, Royes ended. Heartfelt and brimming with lyrical appreciation for nature and personal freedom, this is not only the account of a woman who followed the stirrings of a restless heart. It is also a kind of elegy to the youthful rebels and dreamers of the late 1960s and early ’70s in search of new ways of being and belonging.
A modern frontier adventure for nature lovers and armchair travelers alike.