Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Mackay Community Bar-B-Q

Every year the town of Mackay hosts a free bar-b-q for residents and visitors to the town.
Mackay is a beautiful little town located an hour from Atomic City, a little ways up the Big Lost River Valley.
When LC and I were looking for a house to buy we traveled to Mackay (passing through Arco and then the small community of Moore) for a quick visit, and to take the time to see a couple of places that were for sale.
Mackay has a rich copper mining history but is now more of a farming and retirement community, is home to a combination of both lovely and run down homes, and is surrounded by mountains.
The area is not rich and green like it is in Salmon, but instead reminds me more of some of the mountain towns you find in Wyoming.
Mackay is also home to an annual hang gliding competition:
As we were heading up to Salmon late last week we stopped briefly for gas in Arco, and (while glancing through the local newspaper I had picked up at the gas station) learned about the bar-b-q.
LC and I love this little town, and made the instant decision that we would go to the event.
The day was another beautiful, warm and endless sun-shining day, and after driving through town looking unsuccessfully for either a park or a sign to guide us to the bar-b-q, we stopped at an opportune business to get directions.
We were only a couple of blocks away from the park, which was hidden in back of town.
As I climbed back into the truck to give LC directions, I finally glanced around me and realized that the grounds of the inn contained many beautiful, carved wood sculptures.
I looked at LC, smiled at him, grabbed my camera and said "I'll be right back".
A picture of the mountains on the opposite side of the highway from the town of Mackay..............
At the end of a (hopefully) busy tourist season it is understandable that a small, country inn may not have as many beer choices as they did a few months ago.
But as I stared at the sign briefly I found it amusing...............
Eagles, bears and raccoons.
I liked these very much...............
This little guy was chained in the shade under a tree and as I headed back to the truck I looked down at the forlorn little guy, feeling sorry for him.
He looked lost and sad, and I felt sorry for sweet little pup...............
Turning left at the next road, we stopped briefly so that I could take this photograph of a tank sitting at the edge of a small park, before continuing on.
We were only a couple of minutes from the park where the bar-b-q was being held...................
On the very edge of the back of town we found this park.
My immediate impression of it was that it was a beautiful green space - quiet, many tall and mature trees, with wonderful views of the mountains in all directions................
Neither LC nor I embrace events where there are a lot of people anymore.
Usually I find them stressful and a little overwhelming, and my psyche these days can handle neither much stress nor anything else that will overwhelm.
So it was with a sense of both eager anticipation and internal questioning as to whether or not this whole thing was a good idea, that we headed towards what we could already see was a very long line of people, presumably waiting for food.
But it was a beautiful day, I was in the good company of a good man, and we were in a beautiful little town surrounded by beautiful mountains.
Plus there was free food involved, so how could we NOT go?............
I snapped this picture of ATVs because one of the first thing I noticed when we arrived in town on this early fall day, was the sheer number of people who were getting around town on their ATVs as opposed to their cars and trucks....................
Quickly scouting the area, I noticed large green spaces surrounded by tall trees and short dirt single track paths.
A number of booths set up, telling me that local groups and clubs were taking advantage of the day and the congregation of people to do some fund raising.
The long line of people waiting to be served their bar-b-q.
In the background I could hear live music, and through the trees I could barely make out the band members, who were standing on some kind of platform entertaining people while they ate...............
I took this picture as we were standing in line.
I had been watching a little girl of maybe 3 or 4 as she happily pushed her little stroller, with her little doll, in and out around trees and the people who stood in her path.
A beautiful little girl - blond hair, pig tails, little pink tights with a pink and white flowered shirt.
Happily wandering in the sunshine and doing her little girl things.
Eventually my attention was pulled to other things that were going on around me, and when I looked back I realized that she had wandered off somewhere.
But not before laying out her stroller and doll and cup on the pillar of a stone retaining wall...............
While we were standing in line I overhead people talking about the fact that volunteers had been working on the event non-stop for the past couple of days.
Slow cooking the pulled pork, gathering supplies, setting up the park.
A picture of...........how do I even describe this thing?  The place where they cook their meat.
There's a name for it that escapes me, but here it is.................
After grabbing our food, LC and I wandered through the park in search of a place to eat our food and listen to the music.
Picnic tables had been set up but they were all full, and after more searching we eventually found seats on a set of bleachers.
Squeezing ourselves into a couple of spots, we settled in to enjoy the music.
Only the music was terrible.
Bad playing.  Bad singing.  
And none of that mattered because they were entertaining us on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, and the food was tasty and the masses of people of all ages that surrounded us were nice, small town people, and it was all good.................
As LC and I ate pulled pork sandwiches and potato chips and drank Diet Root Beer, and as we listened to the band, we both started talking about LC's brother.
Gary played music with very big name country and gospel stars for many years.
A professional singer and musician who spent endless long years on a stage, in a bus and on the road.
I have known Gary for almost as long as I have known LC, and in all those years I had only heard him play and sing, in a low key way, a couple of times.
I knew Gary had played with some big names, but my personal experience with him taught me that he was a stumbling, mumbling, self-conscious, un-confident man.
And then one day when he was in Cody last year, he called us to say that he was down at Cassies and would we like to come down.
We did.
And I spent the entire evening completely stunned.
It was mid-week, so the regular band at the bar-slash-restaurant were not playing.
A bus tour had stopped in Cody with a large group of British tourists, and by the time we arrived Gary was playing the piano and singing for them and they were loving it.
As I ate my meal, and as I watched Gary, I realized that I was witnessing a complete transformation in front of my eyes.
The quiet, mumbling, self-conscious man, who sometimes (it seemed) could barely dress himself without direction, had turned into a musical genius.
I had no idea he could sing like that.  No idea he could play the piano like that.  No idea he could play the guitar like that.  Could speak to groups like that.  Could tell a joke like that.  
Could entertain.  
Like that.
I realized in that moment, that that is what he was born to do.
I knew his background.  Knew about the missed opportunities and the bad decisions.  Knew that he could play guitar and piano and sing.
But this person - who was suddenly a stranger to me - had transformed into somebody that I didn't know and had never seen before.
It was completely stunning to witness...............

A grade school choir entertaining park visitors...............
As LC and I were standing in line, a large and very friendly black dog wandered up to the people in the line, looking for attention.
He was beautiful and I had no idea who he belonged to, but everyone in line seemed to know him.
Apparently he liked to wander around town visiting with people while his owner worked.
While watching the children on stage I looked over to the my left, saw a young man petting a dog and realized that it was our new hairy friend.
I stood watching owner and dog together for a few minutes - stood watching them easily interact with each other - and realized that they were both devoted to each other.
You could see it in every movement of the young man, and could see it in every moment of beautiful pup.
They made me smile.................
After eating, LC and I wandered around some of the booths as well as other areas of the park, eager to see what the rest of the place looked like.
A large picnic shelter..............
Coffee, apple cider and hot chocolate, being kept warm next to a huge outdoor fireplace.............
I.  Love.  These.  Pictures.............
Sweet black pup again..............
By the time we had eaten, listened to music, interacted with a few friendly locals, wandered around the park and watched kids playing ball and adults playing horse-shoes, we had been at the event for a couple of hours.
The plan was to leave the park, drive back to downtown Mackay and take some pictures of town, before heading back to Atomic City.
On the way out of the park we stopped one last time at a booth that was set up by the local historical society. Both LC and I interested in seeing old pictures of Mackay.
We enjoyed the pictures but more importantly enjoyed visiting with the folks at the table, as they eagerly shared information about the history of the town.
We never did take pictures of "downtown greater metropolitan Mackay".
Instead, climbing up into the hills further behind the town, we went in search of an old mining museum that the historical society people told us about.
We found it.
Another blog for another day................
Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first of September was crisp and golden as an apple... ~J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

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