Sunday, November 11, 2018

Evening Walk By The Lake

These pictures were taken.........when?.............sometime in mid October I think.
There were still leaves on the trees but the wind was rapidly carrying them away.
Not long after these pictures were taken the trees were all bare............

There are so many things that I love about where we live, but what excites and pleases me the most is that we are only five minutes from the lake.
We are so used to BLM land.  
Sage brush.  Rocky hillsides.  Gnarly and twisted cedar trees.  Steep dirt embankments.  No water.
So used to it while living in Idaho and so used to it while living in Wyoming, that the sheer joy of living so close to the Buffalo Bill Reservoir has not even begun to wear off yet.
At this stage I cannot ever imagine it wearing off.
LC can fish.  I can kayak.  Kory can swim and splash and drink.   We can all relish in the site of water and mountains and hard wood trees..............

On this day I walked alone with Kory.
Armed as always against the unlikely (but always present) possibility of running into a bear.
Or a human intent on doing harm.
It was a cold, windy and partly sunny day, and the promise of the impending winter was in the air.
I had closed the store at the end of the day, rushed home to meet my dog, and then rushed down to the lake, all the while knowing that the days were getting shorter and our time wandering by the lake after hours was finite.
Soon the time change would happen.
And it would be cold and dark and instead of wandering by the lake, I would already be wandering around the house in my PJs at 6 o'clock.
We were living on borrowed time by mid-October and so I consciously embraced the cold and the wind, and enjoyed the evening with my dog...............
All of this was under water just a couple of months ago.
Now it is rocky beach front for us to wander..................
The behemoth known as Carter Mountain dominates the South Fork landscape..................
All summer we have been patiently waiting for the time when we would have this place to ourselves.
We finally do..................
We have now had this girl for five years.
Five years ago on Nov 6 we drove to Boise to pick up a dog that we had never met.
I was still grieving over the loss of Jamie (our previous dog) and was not ready for another.  But LC wanted her and so we accepted her.
Bringing an unknown being into our home and hoping for the best.
Kory quickly became a beloved member of our family.
She has an increasingly white muzzle these days, which she did not have five years ago.
But she still runs, climbs and jumps like the healthy, athletic dog we met for the first time five years ago..................
Multiple piles of driftwood had been gathered on the beach, and when we first found them in mid-October we assumed that they would quickly be burned or put into a chipper or..........something.
As of this writing there are still almost 20 of this huge piles dotting the rocky beach down by the lake.....................
It was a gorgeous night.
Cold and still and gorgeous.
I was bundled against the cold and relished both the silence and the sight of my beautiful dog as she ran and played by the water.
The sun was setting.  It was time to head back to the Suburban and go home.................
It was a late-October Sunday, the leaves tinged with brown, and the air crisp in a way that made you shiver if you stood still too long - Joe Kita, Growing Old and Staying Young..................

Monday, November 5, 2018

Rest In Peace

Life has been very hectic recently.
My business has been keeping me extremely busy, and I couldn't be more pleased.
It is very gratifying to see an idea successfully become a reality.
i have been working six days a week for almost seven months now, and this past Tuesday we finally transitioned into a winter schedule.
I had to laugh when I saw this sign (below) on a downtown store front window the other day.
After a very busy summer tourist season Cody is slowly but irrevocably falling into hibernation mode.
My business hours are not quite this laid back, but having two days off in a row each week through the winter will be nice.
And so will getting home before dark.................
My mother died on Tuesday.
She was a few days shy of turning 82.
She died of uterine cancer.................

About a month ago one of my brothers contacted me to ask if I would write to my mother.
It would make her happy.  She did not have much else in her life.  It would mean a lot to her.
I wrote to her.
I am so terribly sorry that you are going through this.  I know how hard this is for you.  I wish you peace and strength, and that you will always be surrounded by friends and family who love and care about you.
She wrote back - interpreting (as I feared she would) my message as an opening to talk.  To find common ground.  To catch up on 30 years of living in different worlds.
I never responded back.
It was too late.
There was no going back.
My mother died, surrounded by her four local children and I sent an email to my youngest brother (who is always in one exotic part of the world or another).
I was sorry to be the one to break the news to him.
My sister sent me a picture of my mother and four of my siblings.
My mother looked terrible.
The four (who are all younger than me) all looked older than me.
My father was not in the picture and when I asked my sister twice if he was there when my mother died, she never responded back.
I prefer to think that he was there at the end.
But I don't know that for certain.
Rest In Peace Mom.....................

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Out And Back To Idaho - Part 3

The drive through Idaho Falls and then Blackfoot was both disorienting and shocking.
As we drove through the busy small city of Idaho Falls we looked to both our left and right as we crossed over the bridge that spanned the falls and the greenway.
We had loved that place - walking alongside the Snake River and enjoying this beautiful green space.
A space filled with unique benches, gorgeous flower gardens, statues and topiaries, and ducks and geese and views of the falls.
The most beautiful part of Idaho Falls without a doubt.
And as we continued through IF and then picked up a secondary highway that would take us into Blackfoot, LC and I looked at each other in eyes-wide-open surprise.
The noise.  The traffic.  The billboards.  The graffiti.  The endless stores and restaurants and people...........
We weren't used to any of it anymore.
None of it.
And when we got to Blackfoot we did the same thing.
There are 52,000 people in IF but only 10,000 in BF, but the businesses and disorganization and people were all overwhelming.
We silently looked around us.
We silently looked over at each other.
We silently both thought the same thing - endlessly pleased that we were now in Cody.
And a year after we left this place and arrived in Cody we owned a business and had bought a house.
Not only were we in Cody, we were now all in.
And it felt good.
And right............................

The motel we stayed in the last time we were in Blackfoot now charged $30 more a night (plus another $10 penalty-fee for paying with cash instead of a credit card).
It was a fitful overnight stay for both of us - too stuffy, the pillows were too flat, and we both just wanted to get on with it.
Get our camper, get out of Dodge, and go home.
To Wyoming................

Early the next morning we ate a good sit-down breakfast and then eagerly headed over to the garage where we had left our camper six months earlier.
It now had all brand new tires and the wheel bearings had been worked on, and both LC and I hoped that it both rolled easier than it had before and that the pulling would be easier on gas than it had been before.
90 minutes after we had checked out of the motel we were back on the highway - headed up towards Island Park, West Yellowstone, Yellowstone National Park, North Fork and then on to Cody.
It had been a nice and uneventful trip through the park the day before, and we hoped for a nice and uneventful trip home.
 Even though we had driven our truck quite a bit in the few weeks leading up to the trip, both LC and I crossed fingers and hoped that all went well.
The truck needed some work.
We knew that.
None of it had been a deal breaker in terms of taking it to Idaho but it was still a mostly untested truck, there was a LOT of uphill between Idaho and Wyoming to pull a camper up and over, and........and.........we'd see..................

By the time we were well into the long and seemingly endless climb from Idaho Falls up to West Yellowstone MT our truck had picked up a really horrible whining noise.
We looked at each other a few times with increasing trepidation.
"That sounds bad".
By the time we reached Island Park we were looking for a garage.
At the third gas station we finally found one.
They had just gone for lunch.  Be back in an hour.
An hour later we learned that one tire had picked up a nail, so it needed patching.
In addition, some work on the rear end that had been done in Cody had not been done correctly, and needed to be redone before we could continue.................

While LC dealt with mechanics who seemed to care nothing about customer service - or even common politeness - I wandered with Kory.
Behind the garage was a fence that prevented me and my dog from traveling further, but through the fence I could see a small lake.
For a few moments I forgot to worry about the truck and forgot to be annoyed at rude and uncaring mechanics.
For a few moments I stood and looked through the fence and was reminded of how much I had always liked Island Park...................
Circling back to the garage I saw that LC was still knee deep in morons.
Moving on, Kory and I headed down a side road adjacent to the garage.
We wandered for a long time on this dirt road and I snapped occasional pictures while at the same time enjoying the sudden and unexpected silence me and my dog had found..................
Three hours after limping into Island Park, LC called me to let me know they were done.
We were way behind schedule by this time and all plans that we had for taking our time through the park went out the window.
We had to tackle Sylvan Pass just before reaching the East Gate of Yellowstone National Park, and we had no desire to tackle that huge pass (with its huge drop-offs into nothingness) after dark.
There had been off and on snow in the park for at least the past month, roads consistently iced over during the night and thawed again during the day, and we did NOT want to pull a camper up (and control a camper down) Sylvan Pass after dark.
And so the pressure was now on to make time...............

We stopped briefly for gas at West Yellowstone and quickly hit the road again.
We did not stop again until we crossed over the Fishing Bridge inside the park.
With beach and the huge Yellowstone Lake before us, we all three eagerly climbed out of the truck and stretched our legs.
Taking turns heading for rest rooms, I and then LC wandered with Kory on the beach and let her do some enjoyable dog things - sniffing and investigating and drinking the lake water, and then tentatively stepping up to her belly in the water before turning back.
We had needed the break but it was time to move on.
We wanted to get out of the park before dark..................
Traffic lined the side of the road for 1/2 a mile and we both wondered what they had found.
A grizzly bear.
Wandering alone in a field behind some trees.
Reluctantly we elected to keep moving.
We made it off Sylvan Pass in one piece, our truck did fine, and once we were out of the park we simply relaxed and cruised our way home.
We had left Cody mid-morning on the Sunday.  
We were back by early evening on the Monday.
An out and back trip to Idaho, two beautiful drives through the park, a truck we increasingly trust now that it was been tested, a camper finally back with us where it belongs, and a couple of days of reminders about why we love Cody WY so much.................
Home isn't where you're from, it's where you find light when all grows dark.............Pierce Brown, Golden Son

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Out And Back To Idaho - Part 2

It took a minute to process what was happening.
We had been slowly but steadily making our way through the park, enjoying the occasional bison herd, wondering if the sky was going to remain overcast or clear out, and surprised at just how many tourists were still on vacation this late in the year.
It was getting cold you guys - go home already!
Suddenly vehicle after vehicle hit their brakes, and we did the same, surprised at the unexpected need to stop.
Still far back and with nothing to see, we assumed that there was a bear close by.
And then we saw them...........

They were so far in front of us that at first we thought it was just a handful of bison standing in the middle of the road.
Indeed - that would bring everything to a standstill.
And then we realized that the handful were on the move and coming our way.
And that there were more behind that first handful.................
It took a few seconds to process what was happening and then I raised my camera and starting furiously snapping pictures through the dirty windshield.
The herd was huge.
And on the move.
Migrating from one place to another - where, they themselves knew but we did not.
But as this spectacle continued to unfold in front of us, LC and I (and even our silently staring dog) were mesmerized.
None of us had ever seen such a sight.
And it was extraordinary to see...................
There were 2 that stood out in this herd.
The large one in the picture below who stood head and shoulders and hump above every other bison that passed us.
And one whose picture I did not get - a light brown calf.
A little guy.
Born later in the year than every other young bison in this huge herd, but who somehow managed to keep up and stay with the herd...................
It took 20 minutes for the entire herd to pass us by.
They never hit any vehicles although many of them ventured around, in front of and behind.
They knew where they were going, and as we started to move again LC and I spoke with excitement about what we had just seen.
It was only after we were on the road and moving again that we began to realize that the traffic coming from the opposite direction was backed up for 10 miles.
Guys at the back saw none of it and most likely had NO idea why they had been stopped for so long.
Amazing experience......................