Journeys in the Vanishing American West
By Dayton Lummis
“The prose of Dayton Lummis crackles with the dry, wry humor of a seasoned desert philosopher and poet. Lummis is an American original. He belongs to the landscape, much like the tumbleweed and the disappearing Saguaro cactus.” --Kevin Starr, former California State Librarian
“For those of us drawn to the empty spaces on the maps, who head for the unnamed roads that lead away from it all, Dayton Lummis is an able and amiable guide. If his book seems to be more meander than journey, don’t be fooled. He relies on a nomad’s compass in the tradition of Everett Ruess and Edward Abbey. Lummis marks a trail well worth following, as he explores the territory where spirits soar.” --Frank Clifford, Environment Editor, Los Angeles Times
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Dayton Lummis has lived a unique American life--as museum director in a mountain ghost town 9,500 feet high, as caretaker of an abandoned ranch surrounded by endless desert, as an inveterate wanderer pulled through vast empty landscapes that most Americans have never heard of, and will never see. And always--always--on his journeys, he takes back roads. The characters Lummis has met and interacted with along the way form a vivid rogues’ gallery of oddballs, misfits and losers, and he knows how to tell their stories. As a highly opinionated (his friends say grumpy) observer himself, Lummis gives trenchant insight into a region and a way of life that helped shape America, but now seems to be vanishing forever.
Born in New York City, raised on Philadelphia’s Main Line and educated in the Ivy League, Dayton Lummis was nevertheless drawn inexorably into the most remote regions of the American West, where he has lived and worked. It all started when his parents divorced, and his eccentric father left the East Coast for a primitive little ranch in a then-isolated section of the Malibu Mountains, half a century before the Hollywood stars got there. On his first trip out West as a teen-ager, Dayton Lummis came to love America’s most desolate regions. Fifty years later, his ardor still burns hot. He divides his time between Santa Fe and Pennsylvania, but his wanderlust is insatiable, and he is always ready to hit the road again.
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