His world turned alien and treacherous, Bitterroot Bob seeks isolation at his family's homestead at the northwestern edge of America's arid Great Basin. The nation's duplicity also reactivated childhood nightmares where his contradicting sense perceptions terrify him. He hopes finding words for what happened, why, and how to live in the new turmoil will stop the nightmares. But Appaloosa-riding Judith Clearwater breaks his solitude, spinning tales that threaten the American myths that prop up Bitterroot Bob's personal identity. She suggests he look for answers in the high desert. Woody, the Aristotle-quoting saloon owner in nearby Fast Buck, sends Bitterroot Bob on questionable trails that test his beliefs for living in the world. And Roger Stegman challenges Bitterroot Bob to stop him from buying everyone's land for a water project that would spell disaster. Despite Stegman's rifle and range fire, Bitterroot Bob checks the wholesale landgrab. Throughout, the big strains on his heart are Judith Clearwater's pushing and Woody's pulling that open a way for Bitterroot Bob to handle his nightmare yet force him to admit his national views are flat out wrong. His new hope promises more direction than destination in a three-part ballad of joy, lament, and defiance.