About a week after we arrived back in Cody, LC, Jamie and I drove out towards Yellowstone National Park.
We stopped short of the East Gate entrance, and pulled into a picnic area not far from the gate, in a mountain and pine tree filled wonderland known as Shoshone National Forest.
Once you leave the city limits of Cody you are quickly surrounded by only beige.
Few trees, high canyon walls made up of ancient volcanic rock that cooled too quickly into tortured and unique shapes, and then Buffalo Bill Reservoir.
Beyond the reservoir is beautiful pastureland encircled by endless huge rocky mountains, the first appearance of campgrounds and outfitters, nice homes located on huge pieces of property, and then the tiny community of Wapiti.
Beyond that are more outfitters, boy scout camps, a number of ritzy and rustic Wyoming hideaways, but more importantly Shoshone National Forest.
Most people simply blow through the forest - pretty mountains on the way to the real gem of their trip which of course is Yellowstone.
But the forest is a favorite of ours.
It is beautiful. It is beyond beautiful. In the winter it is home to huge herds of elk, buffalo and big horn sheep that travel down from the mountains to graze in the lower lands.
In the winter they are everywhere, and in the late winter of 2011 we took many many pictures of all of these animals as they grazed and sat and lived in pastures close to the road.
The rest of the year there are abundant grizzlies that roam throughout these trees and mountains, and visitors must always be watchful for bears.
We learned during our time in Alaska and then Wyoming that Jamie, our sweet and intuitive pup, is a good watch dog who alerts us whenever and if ever there is something nearby.
During the winter last year we drove through Shoshone National Forest many times and there was only us and animals around every bend in the road.
Even during the summer we have driven out to Shoshone National Forest and stopped at various picnic areas, and we have had the place to ourselves.
Because most people simply blow through the forest on the way to Yellowstone..................
On this particular day it was only warm and not yet hot.
We had the entire picnic area to ourselves and we ate lunch there.
Sandwiches and banana bread and watermelon and then shared an apple.
Jamie stood closely beside my Mountain Boy knowing that he would "accidentally" drop food in her general direction.
And so we all three ate.
I need quiet more than I can describe, but as I sat on the table portion of the picnic table eating watermelon and watching my guy and my dog go through their regular years-old eating-together routine I was glad that they were with me.
They love me and I love them, and the rock solid knowledge of that fact is the only thread that has held my fragile world together.
After finishing eating I grabbed Jamie and headed down to the river. The raging Shoshone River but not as raging as it was this time last year.
Much less snow melt this year.
But still the beautiful and fast moving Shoshone River...................
River, mountain, pine tree..................
Eventually LC joined us and we all three walked along the river bed, exploring the area, remembering places we had walked and explored before. When we were last here.
Jamie was again afraid to go near the water.
Afraid of the movement of the river and afraid of the noise and the current.
Somewhere in her puppy brain she eventually remembered what moving water was all about and began to do what she had done in the past while in Wyoming and Alaska - she tried to bite the waves...................
James digging enthusiastically at some animal or other that she sensed was in the ground.
By the time we pulled her away her face and paws and underbelly were covered with dirt.
She hadn't had a bath in a while but took one on this day, in the Shoshone...............
Still a little snow in the mountains about a month ago.
After many weeks of temperatures ranging from 90-100 I wonder if any of it remains......................
For long, complicated and ridiculous reasons, Blackie (one of the horses that belongs to the property owner, and who was grazing in summer pasture elsewhere) spent a couple of weeks at the house before being moved again to still one more pasture.
Blackie is a beautiful horse.
He is jet black, at one time had been part of the wild mustang herd before being adopted out, and has a disposition that draws people to him.
He is sweet. Eager to please. Watchful of humans and wanting very much to interact with them.
LC spent a lot of time with Blackie the last time we were in Cody and the two (man and horse) bonded.
At one time he was a horse that ran wild and free on BLM land and now he is a horse that wants (but does not have) purpose.
He is a horse that would shine and glow if he received regular attention and interaction but he does not.
These pictures were taken late into the evening during his brief stay on the property, and my camera is facing directly into the sun.
They are pictures of Blackie - some alone and some with LC.
The bond is there but not tight because there has not been enough time.
He is not our horse, not our responsibility, not our horse.
But I know that when Blackie returns to the property in the fall LC will continue to reinforce the bond and I will continue to not get tied into him or his well being....................
LC feeding Blackie "horse cookies" which the animal loves.
He also loves carrots, but not apples....................
There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man..........Winston Churchill