ALICE STARMORE
HorseAndPickUp
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According to Mr McNally Middlegate did not exist, but there it was, standing at the junction of US 50 and Nevada 361. This was the edge of the basin and the Desatoya Range rose in the immediate east; fragments of snow-covered peaks were captured in puddles in the huge bare-dirt parking area. The interior of the bar-diner was rough and ready, but if it was redneck then they kept it to themselves. No-one was particularly friendly but no-one was unfriendly either. I was served coffee and a sandwich by a tall woman in a stetson who asked no questions and heard no lies. The men ate their lunches and ignored me completely, which I guessed was the polite Nevada way.

Back outside I watched a herd of cattle as they straggled over the scrubby vegetation, which must have offered them some sustenance as the beasts looked wiry but in good condition. A dusty, tan-coloured pick-up approached along 361 and pulled up amidst the puddles of the parking area. Railings around the truck bed enclosed a standing pony with a tall-pommelled saddle and lariat. The cab door opened and a rangy, mangy dog jumped out, followed by a man in cowboy clothes that matched the truck. He lowered the tail ramp and led the pony down; then he mounted and rode off, dog loping at foot, to where the distant cattle grazed. I liked this hard, rough land where plain folk just went about their business and quietly got things done.

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