Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Atomic City, Idaho

How many times does someone change the name of their blog?
This blog began as Living The Juneau Adventure, changed to Wyoming Wind Songs, changed again to A Tennessee Life, then changed yet again back to Wyoming Wind Songs.
Do I just freaking come up with one generic, all encompassing, it doesn't really matter where you live because the name will always
I think I will leave it for a while and when the time is right and the name sounds right, I guess I'll rename this blog one more time.
We are now in south-east Idaho and living in a tiny-town with a name that sounds like the place should actually be something, but isn't.
Atomic City.
Population 29.  
Or any number between 23 and 29 depending on who you ask...........

Regardless, it is a tiny speck in the desert, and when we tell folks that we have moved to Atomic City they all look at us incredulous and say the same thing.  Atomic CITY??
Generally people are surprised that we moved here, with some saying "Why Atomic City?  There's nothing there!" and others saying that it is a great little community - quiet with good hunting.
Idaho National Laboratories is close. 
 And far.  
800+ square miles of scattered buildings in the desert, that do nuclear power research and a multitude of secret squirrel stuff.

Atomic City used to be a town of over 2000 people decades ago when INL was a rocking joint, but many of the facilities have closed down and layoffs have been the name of the game for the past few years.
Appropriately the town used to be called Midway until the 1960's because it is almost to the mile, midway between the small town of Arco (at the base of the Big Lost River Valley) and the small city of Blackfoot (population 9000).
Prior to being called Midway it was called Fury and the story behind that name also changes depending on who you ask.
I can imagine that in the late 1950's and into the early 60's that the name Atomic City seemed like a cool name.
At that time, we were not far removed from having won a world war.  We were firmly entrenched in a space race with the Russians.  School children were still ducking underneath their desks during nuclear attack drills.  Furniture and cars were streamlined and futuristic in design.  Anything was possible.
Now the name just seems pretentious.  A little pie-in-the-sky and naive.  A little foolish...............

We packed and loaded a U-Haul truck during a very long and hot three day period in Cody, drove through the park during a very long and slow tourist-filled day, and then spent one more very long and hot day off-loading here in ID.
Since arriving, LC and I have been moving through very busy days but the frenetic pace is thankfully beginning to slow.  
We don't have enough furniture for such a large space, and boxes are everywhere.
But we are here, and the world in tiny Atomic City is quiet.
Atomic City has two bars (one on the outskirts of town near the highway and one directly in town) and unsurprisingly there does not seem to be any love lost between the two part-time-good-luck-catching-them-open establishments.  
There are no other businesses in Atomic City, which means a trip 30 miles in either direction to get whatever it is that you need.
But we knew that before we bought, and decided that it was OK.
Last night we drove 60 miles 'round trip to buy Atomic Burgers at Pickles Place in Arco.
For a woman who has lived all over the world (including large metropolitan cities in both Canada and Australia), just writing that last sentence makes me shake my head and inwardly smile.  Atomic burger.  Pickles Place. 
Likely the town deputy keeps one bullet in his shirt pocket and is named Barney..................

A few nights ago LC, Jamie and I walked late in the evening.
My puppy has not been feeling well since we arrived.
A vet visit in Cody just a couple of weeks before we left Wyoming told us that she was healthy, but I find myself worrying about her more and more these days.
I am not ready for her to leave me yet.  She's getting old fast, and her hips are bothering her more and more all the time, and her breathing has been heavier since we arrived in Idaho.
For a few days she seemed very run down but seems better now, although still not the girl that I have known for so long.
Although we have been keeping her inside a lot during the day where it is cooler, we all walked together along the length of the street where we live the other day.
Not far.  But far enough for me to watch her enjoying the outing. 
Looking towards Arco 30 miles away, at the base of the mountains..................
Twin Buttes..................
A look back the way we had come.
We only walked part of the street we live on, but the entire town proper is only a few square blocks.
More buildings than not are empty..................
In another life this used to be a small and busy motel.
From what we can gather in the short time we have been here, one person lives in one of the units, but the rest of the building is empty............
Ah yes.
Atomic Motor Raceway.
There is a small track at the far end of town, and we had been warned about it when we first looked at the house.
Some residents don't mind it, some residents were hoping that the raceway would increase bar traffic, some residents absolutely resent the presence of a raceway in this small and usually quiet place.
The raceway runs a couple of weekends a month through the summer, and with that knowledge LC and I decided that fighting it was a useless waste of energy.
We would either go with the flow and sit and watch the races, or blow out of town on race weekends and head up the valley.
As with most pieces of information we were seeking, we received differing feedback regarding whether or not we could hear the noise while inside our house.  
We found out last weekend that we (mostly) cannot hear it inside.  
The raceway is up for sale...................
A small park near the raceway that includes a stone monument and dedication to the founding of the city................
When it's running again in a couple of weeks, we may go watch the races and take pictures................
The part-time bar in town.
No gas.
We have met a few residents in town over the past week and they range from friendly and steady, to friendly and left-of-center (personality speaking and not politically speaking)...................
A horse shoe pit in the park....................
We were slowly walking north-west and I took this picture on the spur of the moment before catching up with LC and James...................
In every direction we are only a couple of minutes from BLM land.................
It is hard to believe, but Big Southern Butte is located 18 miles away from us.
We circumvented the butte a few days ago.
When we reached the base of the 5 mile trail (that climbs to the very top of the butte) we traveled less than a mile before deciding to turn back.
We were driving my truck and LC's is sturdier than mine.   And we had only half a tank of gas.
A trip to the summit is something that we want to do very soon.
A video of the trail and summit:
After walking to the edge of town and then continuing only a short way on BLM land, we turned back and began a slow walk back towards the house.
There is not much to this town but there is so much more that I want to photograph..............
By this time in the day, it was difficult to take pictures because we were losing light rapidly.
We have seen a few deer in town since our arrival, and as we approached the tiny, dilapidated, almost empty motel I saw a deer standing in back and silently watching our every move.
In the week we had been here I had already seen the doe with single fawn, and the doe with twin fawns, but this was a young buck.
I snapped a few pictures of him as he stood motionless, zooming further in each time.
My furthest away picture was the best of the ones I took.  Too much zooming.  Too little light.
If you click on the pictures they'll enlarge................
Surprisingly, after seeing the buck we saw a number of deer in succession.
The buck, the one baby and momma, the two babies and momma, a single doe.
All behind buildings, all who scattered quickly but not in a panic, when they saw us.
A couple of residents have told us that they will give us their secret recipe of ingredients, so that we can spray our plants and the deer will not eat them.
LC and I have both smiled, thanked them, and told them that perhaps we will use the recipe next summer because we have other things in the house we need to deal with before thinking about the yard.
In reality we have decided that we care less about fancy flowers and more about leaving a bucket of water in the yard for the deer.  Their droppings in our yard tell us that they are dehydrated......................
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.......
......Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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