Sunday, September 29, 2013

Morning Walk With Jamie

I really like the picture above.
It is a picture that reflects both the silence of the desert and the changing of the seasons.
One of the four silos located on the outskirts of town, silently watching over the desert and Big Butte that is 18 miles away from Atomic City.
A couple of days ago, with both Jamie and I wandering around the house feeling restless and house bound, I decided to take her for a walk.
Over the years I have always been surprised at how intuitive my sweet dog is.
If I am getting dressed with no plans to go out, she knows.
If I am getting dressed with plans to go wandering with my dog, she knows.
How does she know??
I didn't say a word to Jamie, but she eagerly climbed onto the trunk at the end of the bed (which now acts as a step stool for my pup because she is no longer able to jump onto the bed), plopped herself down in the center of the bed and watched me closely as I dressed.
Waiting.  Watching.  Barely containing the hope she felt that we would indeed be heading outside.
I turned to look at her when I was done, leaned down to kiss her on top of her little furry head, rubbed her ears the way years of practice have taught me she likes, and said "C'mon.  Let's go".
She may not be able to jump up onto the bed anymore, but she sure knows how to jump down.
Bright and excited eyes, wagging tail, and endless barking later, we made our way from the back of the house to the front of the house where I grabbed her leash and we headed outside.
I had checked the upcoming weather forecast on NOAA so knew that temperatures were going to bottom out.
I knew that but stepping outside the change from one day to the next was startling anyway.
One day it was sunny and 70 degrees.
The next day it was cloudy, windy, rainy, 38 degrees.
But with the wind and the dampness it felt colder.
I didn't care.
In fact, after the dryness and heat of this past summer, the rain and wind and cold were like welcome friends.
I had missed them, and I was glad that they were back.
Quickly walking to the edge of town, my pup and I headed down the dirt road towards the silos.
The area is filled with sage bushes.
They are different from the sage LC and I were used to in Cody.
Less rugged and prickly and woody and wind gnarled.  More fragile and filled with green.
For the past couple of weeks our sage bushes have been blossoming - bright yellow against a back-drop of predominantly blue sky and increasingly brown land.
They are beautiful, fragile looking, and now beginning to fade for the season................
Jamie and I had walked only about half a mile before it was obvious that she was already getting tired.
I slowed my pace, realized that we would not be traveling too much further, and I made the decision to instead explore in an around the silos.
In the two months we have been in Idaho I have never seen anybody in or around these silos.
I am assuming that somebody owns them but I have no idea who.
I love these stupid things for reasons unknown.
Maybe it's the sheer geometry of them.  
Maybe it's the number of them - four silent triangles standing side by side but alone in the middle of barren land.
Maybe it's the texture of them, complete with old insulating straw bales, aged sand that has dried into a rock-hard bonding agent, aged and weathered wood.
Maybe all of those things, but regardless I like them very much...............
 A small, sun bleached bone fragment, found on the ground not far from the silos...............
Yes, there are still rattlesnakes floating around, but on this very cold and windy day I decided to risk it.
Instead of staying close to the road I led Jamie onto the overgrown grass and onto a now-almost-disappeared old driveway beside the silos, and carefully wandered through the grass.
I was in no big rush and wanted to give Jamie a chance to rest a little (as well as to investigate whatever caught a dogs' attention among the dirt and grass and sage).
As Jamie did her marking and sniffing thing I looked more closely at the back of one of the silos, and wondered what the story was with them.
How long had they been abandoned?
Throughout the field where the silos were located, there were also huge piles of rotted and aging hay bales.
Why would somebody do that?
And how is it that the bales hadn't caught on fire yet?
There are a number of things in this town and area that people have just left, and I have no idea why.
Abandoned homes.  Abandoned vehicles.  Abandoned silos.
I've done enough research to know that there was no major catastrophe (either in town or in the region) that would predicate abandoning home and belongings.
It is a mystery to me, but then there are many things that so many people do, that are a mystery to me................
Big Butte and an angry sky................
Walking beyond the silos, Jamie and I wandered as far back as we could before running into a fence.
Changing direction and following the fence, we eventually found our way back to a familiar road in back of town.
I wasn't ready to go home yet, but it was time to take my old pup back.................
Dropping Jamie back at the house, I kissed pup and man on the head and the cheek respectively, and headed back outside again.
I was very cold by this time but needed to be outside.  Needed the cold.  And the wind.  And the on-again-off-again drizzle that occasionally fell from the grey desert sky.
Directly across the road from where we live there are about 15 waist high rock and stone pillars that are in various stages of disrepair, all standing and leaning in a straight row across the width of the property.
They must have been some kind of fence supports as some time in the past, but now they are simply and slowly wasting away................
To the left of the columns is a long driveway that leads down to an abandoned structure that I had no gotten close to yet, and that overlooks the Twin Buttes.
On this very cold day I ignored the NO TRESPASSING signs and began to wander down the long driveway.
No Trespassing sign?  What no trespassing sign?..............
When Jamie and I had been walking, we had headed south of town where the Big Butte and never-ending desert land prevails.
As I slowly walked down the long dirt driveway of this mysterious building, I looked north towards Arco and the Big and Little Lost River Valleys.  An hour before, the mountains had been completely obscured by ominous looking clouds.
An hour later the clouds had partially cleared and portions of the mountains were finally visible.
I stood for a moment trying to decide if I was looking at white clouds or snow.
Smiling inwardly, I realized that there had been snow at higher elevations in the mountains.
We had snow.
Or at least, they had snow in the mountains.
Good deal.  Very good deal.................
OK.........this was as far as I was prepared to trespass.
I was looking at this strange, abandoned, eclectic, pieced-together structure that was made of wood, plywood and metal, and that had tires laying on top of the roof to hold it down when the wind blew strongly.
I wasn't surprised at the tires, as that was a common sight in places such as Clark Wyoming (which is notorious for gale force winds).
I have no idea what the answers were to all the questions I had, after getting a closer look at this building.
A mystery when I trespassed.  A mystery after I trespassed..............
After taking pictures of the building I looked to my left.
Seeing the world from this angle was new, and beautiful.
I liked the green.  The warped and deteriorating fence.  The rhythms of the sky as the cloud formation changed, as the mountains appeared then disappeared, as blue sky popped out briefly and then quickly disappeared.
I like it here.
In this weird little desert place.................
The giant boom box..................
LC and I have been told that inversions are common here.
Clouds lying low.  Lower than the hills and mountains.
I took this picture before finally turning back and heading for the house.
It was cold outside.
I was cold, and finally was cold enough to seek out the warmth of both the house and the coffee that I knew would be brewing in the pot on the kitchen counter.

The more one gets to know of men, the more one values dogs............Alphonse Toussenel

Friday, September 27, 2013

White Knob Mining Site (Mackay ID) - Part 2

My first impression of the second building we entered was that it was large and dark.
My second impression was that massive amounts of small Christmas lights had been strung inside the building to provide light.
It took me a few seconds to realize that what I was seeing weren't lights, but instead was an endless series of bullets holes in the walls of the structure that were letting in light from outside.
Well OK then.
The inside was an expansive open space filled with many informational signs and hundreds upon hundreds of..............things..........mining things.
Rusty and intricate mining things.
There is a saying that form follows function.
I didn't know the function of many of the things I saw (although LC did) but I did love the form of all of them.
Instead of being enamored with mining history and the inner workings of mines, I was enamored by intricate shapes and textures.

We had been wandering through the building alone for about 15 minutes when a man and woman walked inside.
As I continued to wander and photograph, LC immediately struck up a conversation with the man.
Soon a few other people walked into the building, and another gentleman joined the two, who were now deep in conversation.
Later, after we had left the museum, I realized that LC had found out a couple of interesting things during their talks.
One of the men joked about - and wondered out loud - just how many of the bullet holes in the walls HE was responsible for in his younger years.
The second thing was about the caretaker of this museum.
I don't know his name, but he was apparently stationed in the area while in the Navy many years ago.
A submariner who received his nuclear sub training at the Secret Squirrel Lab (aka Idaho National Laboratories not far from Atomic City).
Yes.  A Navy man receiving training in the desert of land locked Idaho.
Once he retired he settled in the area, and took on this museum as a personal project.
As the man who spoke with LC informed, "he works on this place every single day".
Sounds like a labor of love to me...................

I took many pictures in this building.
Hugely interesting to me for different reasons than one would think while visiting a mining artifact museum, but there you go.....................
You never know what's around the corner. It could be everything. Or it could be nothing. You keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then one day you look back and you've climbed a mountain..............Tom Hiddleston