Friday, November 24, 2017

Leaving Something Of Ourselves Behind

For a mangy country pup, my dog has quickly and easily adapted to city life, as we continue to hold up in a temporary-stay cottage in downtown Cody.
There is BLM land all around the outskirts of town and we visit those places regularly so that she can run.
But Kory and I also walk often downtown.
There are endless sights and sounds (that are compelling to both woman and dog) and I think Kory actually enjoys most of the activity going on around her.
There are a few places we have learned to avoid (that are too noisy and busy and overwhelming for Kory), but generally she likes our walks through this very lovely town.
I covet the unassuming building in the picture above.
It is an old brick structure.  An old Forest Service building in a former life  judging from the metal sign below the top front window.
The building has been empty since the first time we found ourselves in Cody back in 2011.
It is solid and beautiful in its simplicity, and if I had the money I would find out who owns it, buy it and make a home out of it...............

The red trailer serving pulled pork sandwiches sits on one corner in town, and this late in the year it is closed more often than it is open.
On this day we caught it open and I quickly snapped this picture of the metal pig standing out front, before smiling and waving at the friendly guy in the trailer and moving on.............
One more of many many beautiful metal sculptures that can be found in and around Cody.
This guy was standing in front of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.
This series of museums (all together in the same compound) are typically expensive to enter, and so LC and I have never been there.
On December 2 entry is free in celebration of the holidays.
On the same day entry to Old Trail Town is also free.
We are going to have a VERY busy day that day, and I am excited..................
There are waist high concrete pillars that line two sides of the sidewalk surrounding the museum complex.
Each of the pillars lights up at night, and each pillar has a square metal, decorative surround.
Each surround features wild animals typically found in the west - black bear, grizzly bear, elk, moose, deer, beaver, coyote, bison, big horn sheep, wolf, salmon and more.
They are beautiful and highly decorative and one more thing that makes Cody so unique.............
Wooden sculpture of a cactus...................
We've wandered together around the museum a few times and Kory is beginning to find her way around.
Jumping from one decorative boulder to another.
Scaring a bunny underneath a sage bush.
Sniffing beautiful metal sculptures with the same level of keen interest she sniffs a STOP sign.
The simplicity of her needs, and the simpleness of her joys is cathartic for me.
She helps to keep me grounded................
Cedar Mountain.
For all the snow we have had over the past month, the past week has been very warm and the past couple of days have been close to 70 degrees.
There is no snow left in town as I write this, and very little in the mountains surrounding Cody......................
Across a quiet road from the museums is a small park that is largely forgotten for most of the year.
One weekend a year this park is home to a Pow Wow.
It contains a few small structures, an amphitheater, plenty of green space, and two metal sculptures of Native Americans.
The sculptures are not as detailed as many other in town.
Rather, they were created in broad strokes.
But they are both wonderful none-the-less, and on this day Kory and I stopped to look at them..................
Eventually we found our way to the back of town where both the hospital and the iconic Bill Cody statue are located......................
One more of the buffalo statues that rest all over town.
This one was located outside the hospital.................
Hospital on the right.
Buffalo Bill Center of the West on the left.
Bill Cody statue in the background, with Cedar Mountain right behind.
I love this town.
It has called us back time and time again.
Alright Cody.
We hear you now.
We do.
We're paying attention now.
We are...................
It had snowed a couple of inches the night before we took this walk.
That morning had started off very cool but by the time we arrived at this statue temperatures were rising very quickly.
Snow was melting so fast at this point that Kory and I literally waded through two inches of water to reach it, so that I could take this picture.
As I looked at the water I realized for the first time just how efficiently the storm water systems were in this town.
Parking lots were gently sloped, gutters were wide and large, and drains were large and swiftly removing water from the streets.
I was standing in front of this beautiful metal statue of two cowboys greeting each other, but found myself mesmerized by the sheer volume of water from melting snow, and how efficiently it was being drained.
I have lived in a lot of towns in a lot of states and in a lot of countries, but I don't ever remember seeing such an efficient system to deal with runoff...............
And..........another one.
I will take pictures of statues every single time I pass one..............
Cody has town deer as well.
They are everywhere and I held my breath the other day as I watched a full grown buck running across the busy Sheridan Avenue.
Thankfully he made it across safely.................
Pictures taken while on BLM land on the outskirts of Powell (25 miles from Cody).
We had been up there looking at homes.
We may have found a home to buy.
Seven miles outside of Cody.
We'll see.
More if that falls into place the way we hope it does................

We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there............Pascal Mercier, Night Train To Lisbon

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Southfork - Part 2

This school is located 35 miles from Cody and 10 miles from the end of the South Fork, and serves the local ranch children in the area.
It is a multi grade school, sits right at the end of the paved road (the remaining 10 miles are dirt), and the playground is completely surrounded by fencing that is eight feet high.
The South Fork is notorious for grizzly bears and LC and I were carrying two firearms each on this trip (as we do often when we head out into isolated areas) - me a 357 and a 454, and he a 44 and a 454.
For those who don't know this area, that may seem like overkill, but ranch hands in this part of the world don't ever venture out without bear spray and some kind of side arm.
Not ever.
There are abundant grizzly bears here, that roam the mountains and fields and that eat and drink from the Shoshone River.
A week before we left Cody and moved over to Idaho in 2013 a homeowner was attacked by a grizzly bear while working in his yard in the South Fork.
He was down in a ditch working on his irrigation system and not paying attention to the world around him.
His dog was running, made contact with a bear, ran back towards home and the bear followed.
The man was attacked by the bear.  His nose was bitten off and so was one of his ears.
Thankfully the man survived the attack, but he required extensive plastic surgery................
It was the weekend when we visited and the school was closed, but as I stood looking at the fence I wondered if the fences and posts were really strong enough to hold back a motivated grizzly bear.
I wasn't convinced.
Wapiti School out in the North Fork had the same fencing up for the same reason.
I had heard that teachers were armed in both areas, to provide an extra layer of protection for their students, but don't know for certain if that is true.................
Dirt road the rest of the way..............
This was the second time that we had ever been to the end of the South Fork.
Truthfully (after traveling for 45 miles), coming to the end of the road is a let down.
The road ends at a box canyon, with only four wheel, foot or horse back travel into the mountains beyond that point.
The river has been dredged in the past by those who work on huge and extremely rich ranches that employ multiple full and part time ranch hands, and both times we visited the river was down significantly. 
The last 10 miles of the trip is also classified as a big horn sheep sanctuary, but it was still too warm during our visit and the sheep had not yet come down out of the mountains.
Now that winter is beginning to take hold of this area we will go back soon and try to find them.
A long day and a long drive, but on this trip we were reintroduced to the South Fork, and reminded again that we are glad to be back.................

We need the tonic of wildness...At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature............Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life In the Woods

The Southfork - Part 1

The South Fork (named for the south fork of the Shoshone River) is just like the North Fork.
It is a special place.
From Cody the winding, and paved two lane south fork road, begins as a drive much like any other, and comes complete with a series of older homes, newer subdivisions, over sized ritzy homes and large ranches.
A few miles from the turnoff is the back side of Buffalo Bill Reservoir.
Beyond the reservoir is ever increasing isolation (broken only occasionally by high end ranches) for the next 30 miles.
On one more unseasonably warm late fall day a couple of weeks ago, LC and Kory and I took a long drive from Cody to the end of the road at the end of the south fork.
Before we had traveled too far we stopped for our hysterical dog, who we are becoming increasingly convinced has learned to bark non-stop because when she does we'll stop and walk with her.
We stopped on the back side of the reservoir.
While LC carried on a warm and friendly conversation with an elderly man who was sitting in a camp chair fishing from the shore, I wandered with my dog and snapped these pictures.
The water was a reflection of the day - calm, still, warm, beautiful...............
The south fork side of the Buffalo Bill Reservoir is by far the more beautiful end of the lake and (because it is not located on the road to Yellowstone National Park) it often falls under the radar of tourists.
Looking back frequently to check on the progress of my Mountain Boy, I slowly alternated between walking the road and walking alongside the shore with Kory.
This was the first time we had been down the south fork since we arrived back in Wyoming.
 This day was intended to give us a chance to become reacquainted with the south fork again after being away for a few years.
I had forgotten this place.
No - scratch that - I had just forgotten how beautiful this place really was...............
After loading back into the Tahoe, we all three continued on with our journey.
The world at this time of year was nothing but beige.
There was some snow in the mountains on this day, but most of the world was just.........beige.
The color of the west.
The color in the spring and the color in the fall.
Sometimes the color for the last half of summer.
It's not for everyone.
Sometimes I start looking at properties that are for sale in Tennessee just for the helluva it.
I would love it there if it were not for the fast-approaching 7 million people that co-exist in such a small space.
 And if it were not for the monsters back there that I still barely succeed in keeping locked behind the door.
Sometimes they push in unison very hard against the door, and I can see the hinges straining and the door bowing under the stress, working hard to keep the monsters at bay.
If we ever went back to Tennessee I know that they would succeed in barging through that door and then I would be done.
Game over.
I know all of that, but occasionally I look at endless green and endless water and...........indulge.
Sometimes I miss it there.
But one trip into the astonishingly beautiful that is all around us in Wyoming and I no longer miss Tennessee...............
By the time we reached the south fork section of the Shoshone National Forest we had been driving for about 45 minutes.
By this time we were away from homes and deep in the mountains.
The complete sense of isolation was overwhelming, but in a good way.
There was a man I had known for the better part of 11 years.
There was a dog I had known for 4 years.
And there was me.
We were in Wyoming, in the South Fork, and we were together.
And that was pretty good..................

That's what people do who love you. They put their arms around you and love you when you're not so lovable...........Deb Caletti