Living the Cowboy Way in Kansas
Gary Martin comes from southern Indiana, but today he looks straight out of south Texas. A gray duster drapes past his boots as we ride through an immense pasture outside Dodge City, and his droopy white moustache peeks from the shade of a wide gray hat. My saddle creaks as I turn to ask how a 67-year-old guy from the forests of Brown County winds up trailing longhorns on the Moore Ranch's spring drive. He says, "You've heard of bucket lists, right? I put this on my list. When I told people, 'I'm making a bucket list,' they said, 'Are you sick?' I said, 'No, I'm old!'"
That's a pretty good stab at cowboy wisdom from a guy in his second day on the range. But the Western spirit settles in quickly here. Joe and Nancy Moore and their son, Laramie, don't leave much choice. Signing up for their drives means long hours in the saddle, dusty clothes and meals that taste three times better because they're served from a Dutch oven still campfire-hot.
For three days, guests ride the current of longhorns flowing toward summer pasture. The cattle stream along gravel roads and through grass tall enough to hide cow dogs nipping at their heels. Sometimes I drift my horse in among the sweeping horns; sometimes we slide out to the edges. But motion is our constant, just as it was for the old cowhands who did this for weeks.