Friday, April 1, 2011

Wyoming Wind Songs

I finally realized today why the past week has seemed so long and so tiring.
It seems like every single thing we have tried to accomplish while trying to get settled here has taken two and three attempts.
New drivers license - I need to go back to the cottage and get my green card even though we were told on the phone that we didn't need it because they would have checked all my ID when I was in Alaska.
Internet connection for the house - neither satellite nor cable Internet extends out to the house (even though it is only four miles outside of town).  Go to Verizon and get their little black Internet gizmo, take it out to the house and it doesn't work, trouble-shoot extensively with the helpful tech-support lady on the phone until she declares little black Internet gizmo defective and tells us to take it back to the store.  Take it back to the store and helpful in-store tech support lady gets it working, take it back to the house again dice.   Ready to drop-kick little black Internet gizmo across a brown and dusty field.
Change mailing address and have to return a few days later for mail box keys.
Get vehicle insurance changed from Alaska to WyomingHave to return two days later for insurance cards.
Drop off taxes to get done, they hum and ha re: whether they can get them done by the deadline and tell me they may have to file for an extension.  I tell them thanks but I don't want to file for an extension and will take them somewhere else.  They tell me they can do them.  Five days later I drop by their office again to find out how things are going and they ask me to bring in my 09 return.  Back to the cottage and back to the tax office within 10 minutes.  
We go to City Hall to change out our titles and plates on the trucks.  Have to go down to the Sheriffs Office so that they can verify our VIN numbers.  VIN's get verified and we're headed back to City Hall again.  In short order we both have "cowboy plates" and are good-to-go.
Take 2 hours for someone at the bank who doesn't know what she is doing to set up two separate checking accounts and one joint savings account.  And then we have to go to another branch of the same bank to pick up debit cards.
For two people who are tired and stressed and unsettled it has been a very long week........

Yesterday we took a drive late in the afternoon, first down Rattlesnake Mountain access road a few miles out of town just to see what was out there.
Within a few minutes we came across a small herd of free-range horses standing together staring suspiciously at us as we drove by.
They were beautiful, sturdy animals that stood together as one in the strong wind..........
Another mile up the road we came across two cute-as-can-be burros.
I have never really seen burros before up close and we stopped the truck in the middle of the quiet dirt road while I took a couple of pictures.
While we were stopped first one and then the other walked behind and then over to the drivers side of the truck, driving Jamie into a barking let-me-at-'em frenzy.
I wasn't sure what they were doing, or why they walked up to the truck until LC pointed out that they were sheltering themselves from the wind.
I laughed at the sheer cuteness of these animals and their sweet ways.
Sweet, quiet, beautiful little animals..........
We traveled only a few miles on this dirt road until we came to a gate indicating that the remainder of the road was closed until May, so disappointingly we could not continue further.
This was the last of only a few farms on this road that we came across.
I am looking forward to seeing where this road leads in another month or so, because we were climbing the entire time and I feel certain that the views from the top of Rattlesnake Mountain are very beautiful...........
Heart Mountain on the way back down the road.
Heart Mountain seems to be everywhere you look in Cody, much like the Mendenhall Glacier seemed to follow me everywhere I traveled while living in Juneau..........
Our sweet little burros on the way back down to the highway.............
My Mountain Boy and I had been talking about driving the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway for a week or so, and even though it was already close to 4pm and we knew that we would not be able to see it all, we both needed to be outside and in wide open spaces.
We turned off the highway and onto the byway and immediately began to climb, looking forward to seeing how far we could get and what we would see along the way.
7% grade the entire way.
I did not know anything about the drive, and it turned out (even in the short time we were out there) to be a very very lovely place.
A sign providing information on the area not far into the drive..........
The late afternoon was beautiful - sunny and warm, but very windy.
It had been windy all day, and with us climbing non-stop the wind continued to howl.
A few miles into the drive we stopped in excitement at the sight of a huge herd of deer grazing on a hillside..........
This byway is 47 miles in total ending in Cooke City.
It eventually hooks up with another highway that leads to Red Lodge Montana that we visited last week.
We are obviously still trying to get the lay of the land and find our way around.
We climbed consistently during the entire duration of our trip, and saw multiple views such as these........
The terrain slowly but very surely began to change from high plains to alpine terrain as we continued to climb.
I could feel myself getting more and more excited the higher we climbed into the mountains, and I looked over at LC as we drove and could see that he felt the same way.
The views were stunning, and as we pulled off the highway time and again to take pictures and take in the scenery before us I could feel the stress peeling away from both of us.
I was sorry at that moment that we had gotten such a late start, but we were here, in this place, and I was happy.........
 The Big Horn Mountains in the very far distance.
Blended with the clouds and the sky, and incredibly compelling..........
 The bears are beginning to stir.
There have been reports of grizzly bear sightings in the mountains already.
As concerned as I was about running into bears in Juneau, we have already spoken to many people who regularly see grizzlies in South Fork and Wapiti during the Spring, Summer and Fall.
Neither of those communities are far from Cody, and I feel as though an encounter with a grizzly bear is much more likely here than it was in Juneau............
 I have met some very interesting women since I arrived in Cody (three weeks ago tomorrow).
A 92 year old woman who approached LC while he was standing outside a Wendys restaurant waiting for me.  She struck up a conversation with him and during introductions LC told the woman where he was from.  "Why, you're a Mountain Man then!!" she exclaimed.  She went on to talk extensively about herself and her late husband who she had been married to for many many years.
Her husband had worked as a ranch hand for the family who owns the Quaker Oats Company.
I caught up with the conversation when I walked out of the restaurant, and she was a wonderfully sweet, sincere and very funny lady.
She walks two miles every day............

An elderly woman who works in the hardware store that rented a storage room to us.
Her grandfather won a piano from Buffalo Bill Cody in a poker game..........

A woman in the Allstate Office who has two grown sons currently in the military.  One is in the Navy and one in the Army, and both of them served in the Iraq War.............

A real estate agent in her early sixties, who was driving a Dodge one-ton dually with a jake-break and who carried a gun for personal protection.  While following her the other day I told LC that she drives like a "cowgirl" - and she did.  She knew her way around a very big truck...........

They were all steadfast, sturdy, fun loving, easy-with-a-laugh women who, if not born in Wyoming, had spent most of their lives here and I greatly enjoyed meeting each of them...........
 More deer grazing by the side of the highway.
We saw many many deer during our trip.........
 Still climbing continuously.
LC speculated at this point that we were over 10,000 feet.
I had no idea.  I had never been so high.
I did a mountain bike race twice called Off-Road Assault on Mt Mitchell in North Carolina that reached a little over 6000 feet.
That was as high as I had ever been until yesterday...........
 A hint of a rainbow stretching across the mountains.
I was amazed yesterday at how long the rainbow lasted.
Usually rainbows I have seen in the past last only a few minutes and then begin to gradually disappear.
This rainbow was in sight for at least 20 minutes or more, and was still there when we finally climbed even further into the mountains and lost sight of it...........
 Juneau was a very beautiful place.
This place is bigger, more open, and just as beautiful.......
 A snow fence located adjacent to a corral designed to hold free range cattle..........
And a sky and mountains that go on forever.........
 On the spur of the moment we pulled into this field station just to explore and see what was there.
The 1/3 mile drive along the side road leading to the research facility was filled with ice and snow and slush, and made for interesting off-road driving...........
 We finally stopped at a lookout point called Dead Indian Pass, read the signs and realized that we were over 12,000 feet.
It was freezing cold and the wind was blowing strongly and wildly.
LC and I struggled to put on winter jackets and hoods, and then struggled against the gale force winds to walk over to the lookout.
The mountains were..................the mountains just were.
I can't put words to these kinds of places.
Rugged.  Harsh.  Dynamic.  Beautiful.
Beautiful does not do it justice.
The mountains just were...........
 We only made half of the trip along the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway and I greatly wish that we had not started so late.
But words cannot describe how pleased I am that we got as far as we did.
The day was getting away from us though, we still had to make our way back down the mountain (7% downhill the entire way), and although Jamie had found some time to walk during our drive, she was way overdue for a long walk.
My dog had energy to burn and momma still did as well.
We drove back down to the 5100 feet level of Cody, headed back towards town and instead of charging headlong back into civilization instead drove to a small lake and adjacent shooting range.
The range was locked (keys available to members only), but the lake was waiting for us.
Another blog for another day..........

By Mountain Boy aka LC
The Wyoming wind sings through the trees
An invisible partner dancing with the leaves
From waves on the water to the blowing sand
Wind spreads its arms across this land
Shaping the clouds
Bringing snow and rain
Wind weaves its magic on the high desert plain

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