Thursday, October 11, 2012

Clark - Part 1

On a freezing cold and unbelievably sunny day a few days ago LC and I headed towards the small and isolated community of Clark about 30 miles from Cody.
Before heading out of town we needed to stop briefly in Cody to run an errand.
As we pulled onto a small residential side street that was a few streets up from the main two-lane road that runs through the center of town, I looked over to my right and saw one of the Grizzlies.
There are many of these large grizzly bear statues in town.   All are painted and decorated differently.  All were purchased by businesses throughout Cody and all were part of a public library fundraising effort a few years ago.
This particular grizzly was located in the front yard of a residential home that had been converted into a chiropractic office and when I saw him I asked LC to pull the truck over to the side so that I could take pictures of him.
Because he was covered with ice.
As I climbed out of the truck I walked across the road looking at him and trying to figure out exactly what had happened to him.
There had been no rain.  All the other front yards were green.  In addition to the bear, the front yard of this small medical office was also covered with ice.
And then I realized what had happened.  The office had automatic sprinklers set up in the yard, they had been working overnight, and in the very cold temperatures overnight the end result was this tiny frozen wonderland.
Grizzly was covered with a thin layer of ice. 
Icicles were hanging down from his chin.
Rather than a flat sheet of ice across the front lawn there were now millions of tiny rounded icicles covering what should have been lush green grass.
Surrounded by green bushes and trees it was strange to see a yard filled with ice, but it was also beautiful, and I was glad that we happened to run into this unexpected scene.
My feet crunched underneath me as I stepped onto the lawn icicles.....................
We did not get very far out of town before I again asked LC to pull the truck over.
When we lived in Juneau we would both watch the mountains that surrounded us, and at this time of year they presented a rapidly changing landscape.
Snow would start around this time of year, and at first we would see it only on the very tops of the mountains.
Over the course of weeks, overnight snow would slowly but clearly begin falling lower and lower on the mountains, until eventually it would be cold enough at sea level for snow to reach the city proper.
Here in Cody the snow seems to fall randomly and in isolated areas, which I suppose makes sense given the multiple and narrow bands of rain I have seen so many times this summer.
All summer LC and I watched bands of rain in the region.  We could see where it was raining and where it was not, and somehow the rain always seemed to circle around the mountains and miss Cody.
So it was with rain, it also seems to now be with snow.
As we stood beside the truck the other day looking south and back towards the Carter Mountain Range the snow appeared to cover haphazard sections of the mountains. 
For a few moments I stood looking at the mountains.
They were beautiful and only one early sign of things to come..................
After taking a picture of Carter Mountain I turned back to our side of the highway and realized that what I was seeing was something I had never seen before.
An irrigation system - as with the grizzly - totally frozen.
The effect was stunning and beautiful, and by the time we drove back from Clark later in the day a lot of it had melted.
But at this particular moment I was looking at a random and unexpected and unplanned ice sculpture....................
Driving through a mountainous and high desert plains region, and heading towards Clark...................
We turned off the highway directly across from the Eidelweiss:
I think of Clark in two ways.
Homes and canyons.
Most of the homes located in this small, isolated and very rocky community are located in front of the canyon.
There is a small community center and a church located here, but no other forms of commercialism.
There are no stores or gas stations or other businesses.
It is strictly residential and farm land that is totally surrounded by mountains, and as we drove through this area on the way to the canyon in back, I saw a buffalo ranch and some alpacas and horses.
Some people in Cody laugh at Clark residents, making the observation that they are folks who really want to be left alone. 
Blowing through the rock and homes and animals, LC continued heading towards the canyon.
Wind blows through this canyon in the winter and sometimes reach over 100 mph.
It is a rough and tumble, and incredibly rugged area and we love it there..................
Once we reached the canyon we passed by very few homes.
The mountains become even steeper and more rugged.  The Clarks Fork River meanders through flat land to the left, and a few miles into the canyon the paved two lane highway eventually dead ends at the Shoshone National Forest.
LC, Jamie and I continued driving, loving the feeling of increasing isolation and quiet................
A tiny house is barely visible against the side of the mountain on the left side of the picture...................
When the road finally ended we parked on the road and climbed out of the truck to walk and wander and take pictures.
The first time we found this place, only a couple of months after we first arrived in Cody last year, we drove the truck down to the parking area close to the river.
The driveway leading down to that place was extremely rocky and badly rutted out, and we resolved that we would not try it again.  We have four wheel drive on both of our trucks, but they are not "beater off road trucks", and this rutted out road could have easily torn something up in our vehicle.
After that first bumpy ride down to the river we always parked our truck at the road and walked down.
On this day we did not go down to the river at all, but instead simply wandered along the road enjoying the quiet and talking with each other while Jamie did her Jamie things.
LC had noticed a bridge that spanned the river a few miles back and wanted to explore that place, so we did not stop here for a long time.
Regardless, we were in a beautiful place and were happy to be doing exactly what we were doing for a short time........................
After spending a long while at the dead end we loaded back into the truck and headed back the way we had come.
We were on the search for a way to access that bridge that spanned the river....................

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