Robert M. Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was written about a summer trip that the author and his son took in 1968, traveling by motorcycle from Minnesota to California. Accompanied by John and Sylvia Sutherland, Pirsig and his eleven-year-old son Chris began their trip on July 8. By July 17, the group had reached Cottonwood Canyon near Bozeman, Montana, where they visited Robert De Weese. The De Weese family knew Pirsig when he taught English composition at Montana State College in Bozeman, Montana, from 1958 to 1960. Pirsig had only vague memories of this part of his life because he subsequently spent a period of nearly four years in and out of mental hospitals, eventually receiving electroshock therapy. The encounter with the De Weeses allowed Pirsig to begin the process of reconstructing his past. After leaving the De Weeses’ home, Pirsig and his son continued the trip while the Sutherlands headed home by another route. The Pirsigs camped in the mountains near Bozeman and eventually ended their motorcycle trip in San Francisco.
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