The day long trip to Yellowstone had exhausted all three of us, and so the next day we decided to stay close to home and engage in quieter adventure.
We went to Circle Rock.
I discovered this place unexpectedly the first time we were in Cody way back in 2011.
We were renting a small (very small) house at the time.
The place was tiny but it allowed a dog, was moderately priced, had outstanding views of the mountains and was four miles outside of town and adjacent to BLM land.
It may have been small but at the time it suited us just fine.
One day a couple of months after we arrived in Cody I climbed onto my mountain bike, rode 1/4 mile down the gravel road in front of the house, turned right onto a single track trail, worked my way around a gate and contentedly found myself on wide open, empty, and hill filled public land.
I could ride for miles. Forever it seemed.
Taking my time I rode without thinking. Just picking up one random dirt trail after another, enjoying the emptiness of the land and the silence of the world I was in.
It was a warm day.
Beautiful and sunny and warm.
Eventually I found myself in a box canyon.
A trail that had dead ended at the hills, and unexpectedly I had a choice to make.
I could turn around, ride a short ways downhill and pick up another trail, or I could drop my bike and take off on foot, climbing the steep and rugged hills in front of me.
I decided to drop my bike.
Finding a covered spot that I hoped would keep my bike secure in the unlikely event that another person passed this way, I headed out on foot.
The trail was rugged, steep and rock filled, but I relished the challenge of the hike.
And I was curious what I would find at the top of the hill.
What did the world look like on the back side of the wall of hills that I had been looking at for the past few months?
I didn't know but I was suddenly eager to find out.
When I reached the top the trail ended.
Picking up another short trail that followed the power lines, I continued picking my way higher.
And then suddenly the view opened up and I stood at the top of the hill, leaned my arm against a tall sandstone wall and caught my breath at the unexpected sight in front of me.
A huge expanse of wide open emptiness as far as the eye could see.
Surrounded by first a huge wall of rock that encircle three sides, and then surrounded in the far off distance with snow capped mountains in all directions.
I was looking down at Oregon Basin:
Eager to explore, I picked up one more very steep trail and dropped down into the edge of the basin.
The basin proper was nothing but endless dry grasslands, a muddy looking and huge pond, and what looked to me like oil rigs.
But the area I explored on this first trip to Oregon Basin was along the edges of the rock wall.
Gnarly looking cedar trees. Interesting rock formations. Wild flowers. A few hard wood trees but mostly endless evergreens both big and small.
I spent an hour or so exploring close to the trail and saw a huge HUGE flat rock about five hundred yards away that I knew instinctively I wanted to explore.
But it would have to wait for another time.
On THIS day I still had to climb back up and out of the basin, hike back down to my bike, and then ride my way home.
I was another 90 minutes away from home and it was time to head back.
A few days later LC and I found a drivable way into Oregon Basin.
We followed some deeply rutted out dirt trails and eventually found our way to the place I had unexpectedly found a few days earlier.
On our trip together we christened this place Circle Rock.................
This crazy woman that I have known for the better part of 18 years or so.
One day, one winter day, I was helping her at work.
We were painting the stage in an auditorium and had been going at it all morning.
When it was time to break for lunch we stood talking for a few more minutes, and as we stood there by the steps leading up to the stage I was only half listening to her.
I still had blue paint on my brush and as Margie talked I started moving the paint brush in circles in the air between us.
Eventually she looked down at the brush and then looked up at me.
I smiled at her.
She smiled back.
"Don't DO it"
With that I moved the brush down her bare forearm, leaving a long blue streak.
And the fight was on......................
She picked up her own paintbrush (still filled with blue paint as well), grabbed my arm, and made a slashing motion trying a couple of times (unsuccessfully) to blue-up my OWN arm.
By this time both middle aged women were laughing like complete fools.
I broke away from Margies grip, she grabbed me again and tried (again unsuccessfully) to paint me blue.
I broke free a second time and began running, with laughing Margie hot of my tail.
I ran across the gymnasium, slammed through the double doors, ran down the hallway and flew into my boss' office, quickly hiding behind his door.
Margie came barreling through the door and both of us stood there out of breath and laughing like idiots, while our boss sat at his desk wondering if two of his employees had both lost their minds.
I think about that time often.
That incident always reminds me of how much I like this crazy woman.
And it reminds me of how long it has been since I was that crazy, carefree, laughing person.......................
LC and I love this place.
The views are extraordinary.
The sandstone rock has been carved into wonderful natural sculptures through eons of strong winds, snow, ice and snow.
And the place is always silent and beautiful.
It is not filled with pine trees and flowing rivers (as so much of the areas that we love so much are).
But this is a special place...................
Tiny evergreen growing in a crack in the rocks..............
The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, not the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship..................