Thursday, August 15, 2019

Time Well Spent

I dug out my Gary Fisher a couple of weeks ago, on a warm early morning Sunday, and rode a loop that took me further out the Southfork Highway, down to Buffalo Bill Reservoir, along a gravel and dirt double track that ran parallel both to the lake and the irrigation canal, and which picked up the second public access to the reservoir.
It wasn't far, and as I eagerly got geared up to ride, I confirmed with LC that I would meet him at around 8:30 at the second entrance to the lake.
About two hours.
Kissing him on the cheek as I headed out the door I confirmed - see you at 8:30!
With that I grabbed my bike, clicked into the SPD pedals and headed out.............

Turning left at the end of our road I crossed over Southfork Highway and slowly rode along the shoulder, greatly enjoying being out early on such a beautiful morning.
The sky was endlessly blue.
It was early so warm, but not yet hot.
Fields were filled with bailed hay.
Everything looked gorgeous.
Absolutely gorgeous..............

On the spur of the moment I turned down a side road.
Another gravel road filled with fancy homes, and as always, as I slowly rode by by one beautiful home after another I was amazed at the difference in price between the houses I was looking at, and the newer modular home LC and I lived in.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars difference in price.
Nice homes.
Very nice.
But we were all looking at the same mountains and the same lake.  
We were within two miles of each other.
In somebodys' world that made sense.
It mine, it really didn't...................

One home had metal sculpture flowers at each fence post along the entire length of the front of their yard.
They were all different.  Rustic.  Sweet.  Creative..............
I weaved my way through a number of back roads before turning left and eventually picking up the Southfork Highway again.
10 minutes later I turned right, dropped down a steep hill, and was greeted by the calm beauty of Buffalo Bill Reservoir.
The water was calm and incredibly beautiful, and I was instantly reminded of how much we loved where we lived.
I had taken the scenic route to get here on this day, but if I had ridden directly to the lake it was actually only two miles from the house.
THIS is two miles from the house.....................
I was totally taking my time.
Riding a little.  Looking a little.  Photographing a little.
Having a very fun, and very easy going ride.
By this time I had ridden down to the lake, turned right at a small parking area, and picked up a double track trail that ran in the center between the lake and the reservoir.
Riding.  Looking.  Photographing....................
Out of the blue my cell phone rang.
Surprised that someone was calling me so early I reached into the side pocket of my bike shorts, dug out my phone, looked at the screen and saw that it was LC calling me.
"Hi - where ARE you?"
"I'm on the trail.  Where are YOU?"
"At the lake"
"What time is it?"
"7:30?  I thought we were meeting at 8:30"
"You said an hour"
"No.........I said 2 hours"
"Oh - where are now?"
"I'm about 20 minutes away.  Be there as soon as I can"
He told me not to rush but I rushed anyway...........
20 minutes later I pulled down the trail and was greeted by a smiling man and a happy dog.
But by then they were both ready to go home and almost immediately I understood why.
There was standing water all around us.
And with it, there was also mosquitoes all around us.
I greeted my dog and then loaded her into the truck, kissed LC on the cheek for the second time in 90 minutes, sent them on their way and told them I would meet them back at the house.................. 

I took my time returning to the house.
Riding.  Looking.  Photographing.
A good way to spend an early Sunday morning...............
Time wasted at the lake is time well spent...............Author Unknown

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Dead Indian Pass With Gary

Before LCs brother returned to Minnesota we all took a drive on what is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful highways in the United States.
Chief Joseph Scenic Byway:
Although this climbing and winding highway, filled with mountain views and endless awesomeness continues almost to Cooke City and the north gate of Yellowstone National Park, we would not travel that far on this day.
The trip was a spur-of-the-moment adventure that occurred late in the day.
We would only travel as far as Dead Indian Pass:
It was a cool and breezy late afternoon when we set out, and we brought jackets with us just in case.
We would be climbing from 5000 feet in Cody to over 8000 feet at Dead Indian Pass, and the unsettled weather had the potential to be unwelcoming, even this far into summer.
I always think of Dead Indian Pass being a long drive but it's less an hour from town.
And as we drove out of Cody on Highway 120 LC and I were shocked at how green and lush the terrain around us was.
We had never seen it like this before.
We had seen green of course. 
But the green was usually gone by June 1, only to be replaced with various shades of brown.
With the cool temperatures, consistent rain in spring and early summer, and occasional rain throughout June and July, the growth and lushness was astonishing.
And unbelievably beautiful.................
No matter how many times we visit this place I am always in awe.
We have been to Dead Indian Pass when the sun was shining so brightly and the sky was so impossibly blue, that it felt as though the entire world was glistening.
Bright, shiny and extraordinary beyond measure.
We have driven all the way up to the pass late in the fall only to turn around after a few minutes and head back to Cody because the wind was so strong and cold that it felt as though it was going to rip our heads off.
And we have visited many times when it was cloudy.
"The mountains make their own weather Pilgrim".
So said the Mountain Man in the Jeremiah Johnson movie.
He was right of course.
More often than not the sky has been dark and cloudy.
And somehow it never matters.
Always breath-takingly beautiful................
LC and brother Gary looking out over forever...................
While LC and Gary continued to share a set of binoculars, Kory and I wandered..................
There are multiple information boards at Dead Indian Pass.
This area is steeped in history.
Tragic history.
American history.
History standing side-by-side with unparalleled natural beauty...............

May your dreams be larger than mountains and may you have the courage to scale their summits................Harley King

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Not One More Minute

There is a lady who comes into my business about once a month or so.
She was always friendly, smiling, perhaps wound a little too tight but we always had short and enjoyable conversations.
One day a few weeks ago our conversation veered towards kayaking.
Spring and early summer were cold and wet (even by western-Rocky Mountain Region standards) and I was commiserating about having only paddled a couple of times so far this year.
As the conversation progressed we checked the weather forecast and (since I had two kayaks) we decided that we would kayak together on Sunday morning.
The lady met me at the house, we loaded boats into the back of the Suburban (since LC had the truck full of wood) and we headed two miles down the South Fork Highway, turned onto the Lower South Fork Rd and pulled into a dirt circular driveway ready and enthusiastic to be heading out onto the water.
As we were unloading the kayaks we heard the first clap of thunder off in the distance...................

It had been mostly sunny when we left the house, and only fifteen minutes later the sky was rapidly looking more ominous.
With a disappointed sigh, we looked at the colorful boats, looked up at the sky again, and decided that we would wait out the weather.
As we quietly chatted we glanced up at the sky every few minutes, watching as a band of dark clouds rapidly moved over us and continued on their way to Carter Mountain.....................

Still hearing occasional claps of thunder but watching as the ominous clouds continued on their journey away from us, the lady and I decided to risk it.
We were ready to paddle.
The sky was mostly watery blue.
It was warm and the lake was mostly calm
We were ready to go......................
Looking at mountains on the back side of Buffalo Bill Reservoir as we left shore and headed out..................
It was still early enough in the season that this section of the reservoir was still filled with birds.
Small islands dotted the water.
Nesting areas for pelicans, ducks and seagulls.
Very quickly we both fell into an easy going combination of paddling, picture taking, and conversation.................
I learned a lot about this lady while paddling that I didn't know before, and I actually spent more time listening that I did talking.
Case workers - drug addiction - angry middle of the night text messages to fellow employees - problematic work histories.
By the time we headed back to the house and said our goodbyes the lady made the observation as she tried to hug me that I "wasn't a hugger".
Well yes............actually I am.  
Hugging often and at every opportunity.  With the less-than-a-handful of people with whom I care deeply.
Everyone else?  Not so much.
But I didn't say that of course.................

A week later this same lady stopped at my business.
We talked and laughed about the kayak trip.
And then she began to speak of her grandmother, who lives with her part time.
Quickly the conversation turned to how mean her grandmother was.  How difficult her grandmother was to care for.  
She made the observation that she had been trying (unsuccessfully) to find prescription drugs on the street to help control her grandmother.
I suggested an appointment for the grandmother so a doctor could review her medications and possibly prescribe something else to help with mood swings.
  I also cautioned against giving her grandmother illegal drugs that may conflict with other medications the older woman was already on.
The womans' response was that she didn't care about side effects.
And then she abruptly began to cry.
 And I wordlessly watched her cry.
Was I supposed to console her?  Put my arms around her?  Say something sympathetic?  
I don't know.
I did none of those things.
I wordlessly watched her cry for a few minutes until she eventually stopped.
She quickly changed moods and suggested that we should go kayaking together again soon.
I told her that I was not interested in kayaking with her again.  
That I preferred to paddle alone.  
But thank you for coming out with me last weekend.  I really enjoyed it.
And with that she left.
It was all very uncomfortable, but we both smiled and pretended that it wasn't uncomfortable.
And so it goes....................

LC was a law enforcement officer.
He was a member of a drug task force, and almost died in an ambush attack after a cartel-driven hit was put out on all five members of the task force.
He was very seriously injured.
Forced into medical retirement.
He lost his livelihood.  
He lost the job he loved.  
All that training over many years - down the drain. 
After all these years he still deals with health issues related to his injuries.
I'll be damned if I spend one more minute with this woman...................