To the Wild West, Cell Phone in Hand

We have with us cell phones, iPhones, BlackBerries, iPods and personal computers. And it is not as if Oklahoma is the Wild West anymore, either. Trail boss Gary Townsend often whips out his cell phone while on horseback and coordinates the path ahead. And I am writing this column via a Wi-Fi hotspot at the McDonald's restaurant in the small town of Kingfisher.

But to my mind, the most important lesson of Chisholm Trail, especially the experience of riding it, is of what we have lost. Out there in the Cherokee Strip, people like Charlie Hasbrook depended on his neighbors for everything from helping put out prairie fires to delivering babies.

And that traditional of mutual support and deep hospitality endures in places like Oklahoma. Literally, everyone we have met in the course of this ride and its preparation have offered their help unconditionally. I merely had to contact Jerrica Lockwood, a local rancher, and ask if such a ride was even possible -- and she set up the entire trip. Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Jari Askins not only met us at the Chisholm Trail Museum in Duncan to greet us but showed up at our encampment the next morning to see us off.

Indeed, our ride seems to have touched some deep chords in people around the world, but especially in Oklahoma. Perhaps it's a general unease about the once-important things, such as hospitality, that are fading from the modern world. And so what began as a Boy Scout trip has now turned into an international event: The Associated Press came out to see us Monday -- and the resulting story) has not only been carried around the country but has even been picked up by the BBC and sent around the world.

Out there on the trail, all of us seem to sense, is an important secret, a puzzle about living life well, that we are desperately trying to solve.

I know that I am. And as you read this, I'll be out riding on the Chisholm Trail, slowly making my way home to the little dugout cave on Charlie Hasbrook's homestead.

This is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

Michael S. Malone is one of the nation's best-known technology writers. He has covered Silicon Valley and high-tech for more than 25 years, beginning with the San Jose Mercury News as the nation's first daily high-tech reporter. His articles and editorials have appeared in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, the Economist and Fortune, and for two years he was a columnist for The New York Times. He was editor of Forbes ASAP, the world's largest-circulation business-tech magazine, at the height of the dot-com boom. Malone is the author or co-author of a dozen books, notably the best-selling "Virtual Corporation." Malone has also hosted three public television interview series, and most recently co-produced the celebrated PBS miniseries on social entrepreneurs, "The New Heroes." He has been the "Silicon Insider" columnist since 2000.

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