We were out in Frannie Wyoming and then drove across the border to Bridger Montana a few days ago.
It had been a very warm and very beautiful sunny day, but later in the afternoon as we drove closer to Cody on the way home, I could see heavy smoke coming up and over Rattlesnake Mountain.
Within five miles of Cody I knew that something was different and by the time we hit the outskirts of town I knew what it was.
The town of Cody had disappeared.
I have never seen anything like it in my life before.
The town was completely and absolutely engulfed in thick and heavy white smoke.
As we pulled into the driveway at the house LC took Jamie inside while I walked up and down our road taking pictures of the world around me that now looked completely different from what I have become used to.
The mountains were gone. The BLM hills surrounding us were barely visible.
There were no cars on the road, no planes in the air, no bird sounds or animal sounds.
It felt almost as though I were standing in a silent and white vacuum in space.
As I crossed the cattle guard in back of the house I looked down into the grey canal water and saw this reflection of the red sun that was almost completely obscured by smoke.................
I stood in the back pasture that is made up only of dirt at the top of the hill and only lush greenery and wild flowers at the bottom of the hill, looking out over the world.
All of the horse pastures that I could normally see down below were covered in white smoke and the animals had an unearthly and ethereal quality to them.
Heart Mountain to the north and Carter Mountain to the south were gone. Cedar and Rattlesnake (which are both closer) were barely visible.
As with other unusual sights I have come across over the years, this one inevitably reminded me of a Stephen King novel. "The Mist".
I wasn't stuck in a grocery store but I hoped that no otherworldly monsters would reach out to grab me and pull me screaming into the claustrophobic and deadly white mist.
There were already enough monsters in my life and I did not need more.
I took this picture while standing in the dust and dirt at the top of the hill in back of the house.
I have stood in this same place many times and taken beautiful pictures of Carter Mountain.
Not on this day...................
Looking down over usually lush, green and beautiful horse and sheep pastures................
This wonderful wagon is located beside the driveway of the house, and in the background is one of the high BLM hills that LC, James and I walked often last year.
Just to the right of that hill is a draw that I referred to last year as the BLM Killing Fields:
If you click on this picture it will enlarge.
The school bus drops kids off right at the top of our hill, and there are school aged kids who live at the opposite end of the road.
I snapped this picture as these young boys slowly made their way home and before they finally disappeared into the smoke.
I could smell the smoke. And as I suddenly realized just how thick it was I realized that it was probably not a good idea to stay outside for too long.
With that realization I walked a short ways in one direction, headed back towards the house, walked a short ways in the opposite direction and then headed safely back indoors..................
Our neighbors' horse Dixie heading for the cover of the barns...............
As I was still picture taking a familiar white Bronco came up the hill and around the curve in the road.
I knew the driver a little.
She and I have spoken a couple of times and as she approached me she slowly pulled the truck over to the side of the road and rolled down her passenger side window.
The woman has lived in Cody for more than 20 years and told me that the last time she saw smoke this thick was around the year 2000.
We have had smoky conditions a few times this summer (though nothing like this) as a result of not only Wyoming wildfires, but also smoke that came from fires in Colorado, Utah, California and Utah.
On this day there were also fires in Meeteetse, two in Wapiti, one in the Southfork, and a couple in Yellowstone National Park. All local fires.
We really WERE in the middle of a world on fire.................
The four horses and one donkey belonging to the people who live across the road.
It was a windy day and the four horses all crowded together for mutual protection and mutual support.
The donkey (whose name is Donkey) stood alone, as she always seems to do.
LC and I have had one up close interaction with Donkey.
Not long after we arrived in Cody last year, and not long after we had moved into the house, LC was standing outside late in the evening after dark.
Out of the corner of his eye LC caught movement beside one of the sheds. Unsnapping his holster he slowly walked over towards the shed and then caught another movement of something that quickly disappeared behind a bush.
When he got to the shed and then to the bush there was nothing there.
And then he caught another flash of movement. Hand on gun he cautiously walked towards the shed again, and in a few seconds finally realized what was moving around back there.
It was Donkey.
Sweet Donkey had somehow gotten out of his pasture, wandered across the road, wandered up the driveway and was looking for shelter from the cold and very strong winds.
I had been inside the house through all of this action and when I heard LC's voice calling my name I walked out onto the porch and was surprised to see my guy standing there petting a donkey.
Through the wind he told me what had happened and I walked inside to grab Jamie's leash.
I gently wrapped it around the donkey just to make sure he did not have a mind to wander off again, and LC went to retrieve Donkey's owners.
While we waited for the neighbors to come for their animal LC and I stood in the cold and the wind petting and talking to and reassuring this very sweet animal, who by this time seemed quite content to stay in one place and continue to let us love on him.
Donkey is a "hanger on" in this herd. Always on the outskirts and never really part of the herd.
But he is a gentle sweetheart and whenever I see him he makes me smile..................
World On Fire
If the world was on fire
To rescue your gentle heart
I would walk on the embers
If the world was overwhelmed
With waves and floods of oceans
I'd dive the deepest depths for you
If the air was smoke around us
No breath to be found anywhere
I would give you my last breath
When you sink to your knees
Despair surrounding you
I will weep with you