Monday, September 9, 2013

The Desert Is So Vast - Part 1

That little white speck in between the hills in the above picture is LC's truck.
Click on the picture and it will start a slide show of enlarged pictures, that will show our exploration of a table top about two miles from the house....................

The past couple of days have felt like fall.
Thankfully, finally, wonderfully the days are beginning to get cooler and the nights are beginning to get MUCH cooler.
By mid-morning yesterday both LC and I were starting to wander aimlessly through the house.
We had both made a pact to take a day off from working around the house.  A day without him cutting lumber and without me wielding a paint brush.
It was a welcome break, but after spending the past month doing chores related to the house, we didn't really know what to do with ourselves.
As I stood outside in front of the house looking out over the world in front of me I absently debated how to spend a few hours.  It was too nice to be inside, but we had both been feeling tired and run down recently and neither of us were up to any kind of epic adventure.
There was a trip to Big Butte still calling my name but it was too long of a drive, too high of a climb, more energy than I could possibly muster.
There are smaller buttes also close by, and as I looked over at a small butte known locally as "The Table Top" I remembered our neighbor mentioning it to us recently.
The Table Top looked close.  Small  Boring and predictable and uninspiring.  But it was close, and we had not been to the top yet.
The Table Top it was..................

Kissing Jamie on top of her furry head and trying hard to ignore the look of disappointment on her furry face, LC and I loaded into the truck and drove about a mile outside of town.
Passing the dirt road turnoff to Big Butte we continued just a little further and turned left, taking (what we assumed) was the trail that led to the Table Top.
The trail was a combination of dirt and very gnarly and rocky sections, that was also a combination of long and flat broken up by very short and steep sections of road.
A look back towards Big Butte...............
And a look towards the Table Top.
It was nice to be outside but in truth I looked towards the rocks and was uninspired.
Climbing back into the truck I had my mind settled that there would be nothing of interest on this little nothing butte....................
Twenty minutes after we had left the house we reached the top of the butte, pulled the truck to a stop and climbed out.
I slowly looked around me, trying to get a lay of the land.
The little butte wasn't as little as it looked from the house.
There were multiple dirt trails heading off in different directions, multiple hills and rises all around us, and something white caught in the branches of a sage bush close to where we had parked.
LC walked over to the whatever-it-was while I continued to scan the area, and when he called out my name I turned to face him.
"Come look at this" he told me with a smile.
Curiosity peaked I walked over to see what LC had found and when I looked down saw pictures I hadn't seen in a long time.
My Mountain Boy had found a porn magazine.  On top of a butte.  In the middle of the desert.  Caught in the branches of a sage bush.
An interesting and unexpected diversion, and after wasting a couple of minutes looking at naked men and women in all kinds of interesting configurations we refocused our attention on where we were and what else we could find..................
Both LC and I were surprised at how big this butte actually was.  We had assumed a couple of small hills with a dip in the middle, and as we began to head along one dirt trail we kept looking at each other in stunned surprise.
Big Butte looks like it is only a few miles from the house, but it is actually 18 miles.
This Table Top butte was very close to the house and looked like a couple of small hills.
The huge expansiveness of the desert makes it almost impossible to accurately guess both size and distance.
As we passed over a rise on the trail, the world opened up and we could look out over the forever of the world in front of us................
The tiny town of Atomic City standing directly below us, seemingly alone and like an oasis in the middle of the desert....................
One of the Twin Buttes to our right................
Standing at the end of the trail LC and I both snapped picture after picture.
We could clearly see Big Butte and felt as though we could almost reach out and touch it.
We already knew it of course, but for the first time since we arrived in Idaho we could actually see that we were located in a huge basin that was surrounded by mountains.
The Lost River Valley chain, Borah Mountain, Lemhi Mountains, others that I still don't know about but which I will learn about over time:
Standing on this butte we could clearly see the mountains surrounding us.  Could see the endless Snake River Plain.  
Just like our white truck parked on a trail and now almost hidden in the hills, we were tiny specks alone and hidden in a huge world..................
Part of the extensive and sprawling INL (Idaho National Laboratory) plant.
Standing on top of the world, the Secret Squirrel Lab looked close.
But it wasn't.  And it isn't..................
Heading down one more trail.
We could see a small butte close to Big Butte that was covered with trees, and we were both surprised that our newly discovered Table Top was not.
Only rock and sage bushes..................
I snapped this picture specifically for the bright yellow and bright green fungi that was growing on the side of the rocks.................
The Twin Buttes...................
As LC walked in front of me I stopped for a few moments and watched him.
We are both tired.
Mentally.  Emotionally.  Physically.  
As I watched him walk I could see those things in him, but I could also see that he was loving this unexpectedly wonderful place high above the world.
We weren't that high in reality, but it FELT like we were because we could see so much.
Fifty miles?  More?  In every direction...................
Tired of walking trail, LC veered to the right and began to bush whack up and over a hill.
Curious to see what was on the other side....................
Looking north-east towards the Little Lost River Valley....................
Looking south in the direction of Idaho Falls.................
Looking directly in front of us...................
Looking west.  Towards Big Butte.................
There is the barest hint of red growth on this........whatever it is...........
There is fungi growing everywhere, and on all non-moving surfaces.
Bright green, bright yellow, orange, black.
We are only 300 miles away from Cody and in ways it seems like a world away.
But in many respects - the vast open-ness, the endless BLM land, the weather patterns that seem to always skirt around the mountains and miss us completely even though the sky constantly promises storms, the sage and rock and deer and antelope and desert flowers, the non-stop emptiness of the land, all remind me of Wyoming...............
The desert is so vast that no one can know it all. Men go out into the desert, and they are like ships at sea; no one knows when they will return...............JEAN-MARIE GUSTAVE LE CLÉZIO

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