Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Big Horn Mountains - Part 2

As we approached the final descent of the Big Horn Mountains that lead down to Dayton Wyoming we pulled over to this final lookout to take pictures of the basin far below us.
I am always speechless when I stand high in the mountains and look down on these kinds of scenes, as I have so many times since arriving in Cody.
There is nothing in my experience that compares to this.
From up high it looks so barren.  So colorful.  So never-ending.  So beautiful.  All at the same time.
We then drove down to Dayton. 
And since it was only another twenty miles beyond Dayton we continued on to Sheridan.
I was curious about the town because I had applied for a job in Sheridan while still living in Tennessee.
I didn't even get called for an interview at the time but I was still curious to see the town none-the-less.
I have heard a few times recently the expression "the billionaires are all moving to Jackson and the millionaires are moving to Sheridan"
I have no idea if that is true but it is true that real estate is expensive in both of these towns.
Lunch and we headed back, this time taking Highway 14A.
Just like that.
A day for sunshine and travel and exploration on a warm Sunday that was turning into a much longer drive that we had anticipated when we first left the house that morning..............
This picture does not show it well but the last 10 miles of the highway leading down the mountain was paved red on one side of the road.
The rock on the side of the highway was also completely brick red in color, and again we saw many signs informing us of the age of them - billions of years old....................
We had been traveling on 14A for about 30 minutes as we took our time on the return trip up and over the Big Horns.
The one regret I had during the first leg of our trip is that we saw no wild life at all. 
No moose.  No bears.  No deer or elk or hawks or any other types of animals aside from free ranging cattle.
And then we saw him.
A large adolescent bull moose walking slowly along the tree line of a gravel road just off the highway.
LC saw it as well and before I could ask him to pull off the highway he was already looking for a side road.
We pulled off the highway and slowly drove down the side road hoping that the moose had not made a run for it back into the woods.
For a while we could not see him at all and though he was gone, but then suddenly he darted out of the tree line on my side of the road, ran across the road 50 yards in front of us, ran up the embankment and across the hilly grassland heading towards the trees..................
He paused very briefly to turn and look at us and then he was gone.
It all happened so fast.
One minute he was hidden in the trees and the next he had run across the road, up the hill and disappeared into the forest.
I handed LC the camera because the moose was on his side of the road and my Mountain Boy took these pictures.
Snapping like crazy trying to catch the guy in pictures.  We both sensed that he would be gone before we knew it and indeed he was.
Such a wonderful sight and very exciting to see.
I had not seen a moose since I lived in northern Ontario with the boys in the very early 1990's...................
So incredibly, breath-takingly beautiful................
A Visitor Center stop along the way..............
Remnants of snow in the mountains, even on a very hot mid-August afternoon..............
There is a person barely visible but standing in front of the snow patch just to the left of the 40mph road sign..............
I took pictures of these free ranch cattle because they were very upset - crossing the highway frequently and milling close to a bull that was laying dead on the side of the highway.
Even though we saw no live deer during our entire trip over the Big Horns on Sunday we saw many many dead deer also lying on the side of the road.
My neighbor went over the mountains a couple of months ago and saw a dead baby moose in the center of the road.
I felt badly for the cattle.  They were very obviously disturbed by the death.................
Some kind of observatory high above the tree line..............
We pulled off one last time before heading back down the mountain to take in the breath-taking views of the Big Horn Basin................
As we drove down the last series of switchbacks before heading back towards Greybull and eventually home to Cody we held our breath.
We slowly drove down 10% grade switchbacks for 10 miles.
We could smell the brakes heating as we slowly and tentatively made our way down, and debated on occasion whether or not we should pull off at one of the small parking areas along the way to let the brakes cool down.
It was the longest and steepest grade either one of us had ever driven on.
10 miles of two-hands on the steering wheel, tight switch backs, don't let the truck get out of control driving.
It was a beautiful section that changed from pine trees and grass land at higher level to the now familiar rock and sand and sage at lower levels.
A long and gorgeous drive over a mountain range that I wish we had taken the time to explore before we did.
But I was very glad that we finally made it.................

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