Changing Planet

When Cows Fly

It was five years ago, this November, when a team of cowboys transplanted a ranch in a box from the Montana range to the Russian steppes. We traveled by truck, plane, and ship to settle on Stevenson-Sputnik Ranch. The anniversary has me in a sentimental mood, something cowboys are prone to feel anyway. It doesn’t help that I ran into one of the offspring of our cattle, a bull on display at Moscow’s livestock expo, Golden Autumn.

Commemorating the event, I’ve created an interactive map that recreates the adventure.

And because no journey is complete without a soundtrack, here’s a playlist of road-trip tunes. They’ll get your toe tapping.

“What a long, strange trip it’s been,” indeed.

Ryan Bell is a Fulbright-National Geographic Fellow, traveling through Russia and Kazakhstan for his project #ComradeCowboys. Follow his adventure on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Get updates about his work at Storify.

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Ryan Bell is an award-winning journalist living in the North Cascade Mountains of Washington State. A former cowboy and adventure guide, Ryan is specialized in examining how agriculture impacts the natural world. He is a two-time National Geographic Explorer who, in 2015-2016, traveled for nine months through Russia and Kazakhstan for his project Comrade Cowboys. In 2018, he will explore the mountains of Uzbekistan where an international team of archaeologists have made a discovery that could rewrite the history of the Ancient Silk Road. Elsewhere, Ryan’s work has been published by NPR, Columbia Journalism Review, Bloomberg, Outside Magazine, among others.

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