With a new dog in the family, winter slowly but surely beginning to set in, and with LC still hobbling around with a messed up back, life has been very quiet recently.
Kory, our new pup, is settling into our home and into our routine very easily, and although we have had her for only a week today, it somehow seems as though she has been around for much longer.
There have been times when I think that it would be nice for her to curl up at the end of our bed and sleep with us. But this now 53 pound dog is underweight and eventually she won't be, and sleeping with a 63 pound dog doesn't sound like the way to go.
And so she happily sleeps in her crate (that we keep in the bedroom close to us).
It is a safe place for her. Her cave. Her den. The door to the crate is propped open and she comes and goes at will during the day and as the mood strikes her, and then sleeps in this same place each night.
With LC still moving slowly, I have taken Kory for many walks in and around town, many times for long walks exploring BLM land that surrounds us in all directions.
It has been a bonding time for both of us.
A time to explore together and a time alone together to get to know each other and the rhythm that each of us moves.
These pictures are of some of the walks we have taken together recently...............
Late one evening a few days ago we wandered together down the road from the house, with no particular destination in mind.
Between the time change and the shortening of each day, I completely misjudged the amount of daylight we still had left during our walk.
I knew that it was late in the day but it still did not register, and we both contentedly walked away (too far as it turned out) from the house to see what we could find.
Sunset already beginning to hit, with the Twin Buttes in view............
On the spur of the moment I turned right off the road, heading towards the now empty and abandoned Atomic City Speedway.
A couple of weekends a month throughout the summer this small raceway is a hub of noise, flying dust and a surprising number of visitors to town.
I say surprising because the tiny race track is only a third of a mile in circumference and I cannot imagine what the draw is to such a small circle.
Regardless, a whole lot of people blow into and out of town on these weekends from May through September each year.
We knew it when we bought the house, thankfully cannot hear the noise inside our well insulated house, but are still glad that they are done for the year.
Now, two months after the last race, this place is all but forgotten, and will continue to be forgotten about until next spring.
Kory and I turned right into the speedway and slowly wandered this now-abandoned place, enjoying both the quiet and the sunset...............
Atomic City Bar at sunset............
I know nothing about how well (or not well) run the speedway is, but every time I see this ambulance from the road I smile inside, guessing (and I think that I am probably correct) that this vehicle has not moved in many years.................
Walking out of the speedway I had intended to simply turn left and pick up the gravel road again.
Again on the spur of the moment I turned right with my new and very sweet dog (who has quickly become a new member of the family), wandered along a narrow trail and unexpectedly found this...............
Looking back the way we had come, I saw first Big Butte and then the silhouette and the back side of town..............
Kory and I wandered along the very wide and open dirt road that I had not even known existed until we unexpectedly found it.
It was getting dark quickly and as we continued to head away from town I toyed briefly with the idea of exploring the small rise that I could see just up ahead.
I was curious to see it. Curious to see what we would find up there. Enjoying the day that was very quickly turning into night.
Eventually and reluctantly I looked down at my dog, looked back at town, and decided that it was time to turn back.
The rise would have to wait for another time. Another day.
We had wandered further than I realized, and by the time we made it back to the road that led home we were still on the outskirts of town and any remaining semblance of daylight was now gone.
I could see the lights of houses. Could see the street lights. Could see the OPEN sign on the bar steadily flashing on and off. Was armed.
But none of that mattered.
Atomic City (and the vast public lands that surround it) are creepy in the dark.
Atomic City Zombie jokes aside, early winter has brought coyotes in closer to town.
As we headed towards the house I suddenly heard them howling all around me.
Closer to town and they sounded closer to me.
I looked down at my pup and she seemed unfazed by the noise. Even when they sounded as though they were in the tall and dry grasses only 50 yards from us on my left and when they sounded as though they were actually in town to my right.
As I got closer to the house I looked up and saw LC standing in the dark beside the truck.
He had already called me. Yeah..........I'm on the way home now. Should be there in 10 minutes.............
The next morning we walked again.
In the calm and warm and welcoming and uncreepy sunshine, this time headed in a different direction.
Within just a minute of leaving the house Kory suddenly stopped in the middle of the road and glared curiously and intently at the deer (that was also motionless and staring back).
My Florida dog has no idea what to make of the deer that populate the town.
LC, Jamie and I saw the deer throughout the summer, but always late in the evening.
Since early fall when the weather first began to cool, they have been regular visitors to Atomic City throughout the day.
Now it is surprising if we do Not see the deer within just a few minutes of being outside.
Constant visitors and (at this time of year) constant residents.
Kory is mystified by them. She can smell them all over town. She always stops and silently stares at them when she sees them...................
Not long after Jamie died, LC and I rode mountain bikes out onto BLM land and followed a trail for a few miles before finding one more trail that circled back to town.
On this day I walked part of that same trail with Kory.
It was only a short walk on a beautiful, unseasonably warm morning, but I wanted to explore that rise behind the speedway later in the day.
Walking with my new trail companion.....................
There were many times in Jamie's life when I would look at her and wish that I could read her mind.
I was often curious what she was thinking. How she was perceiving her world.
In the short time that we have had Kory I have looked at her and wondered the same things.
Kory is as nose driven as Jamie was, but frequently she will just stop, stand perfectly still, and look out over her new world.
Just looking up and staring into the distance.
What is she thinking? How is she processing this place that is night and day different from the world she left only a week ago?
For the past week Kory has lived in a colder, high desert plains environment. Before that she was on a plane. Before that she was bonding with a lady in Florida. Before that she was in the animal shelter. Before that she was adopted. Before that she was again in the animal shelter.
That is a lot of changes.
So many that it would be a lot for a human to adapt to, let alone a dog...............
Later that same day I headed out again with a restless dog who loves to walk.
An old Atomic City Bar sign resting on the ground outside the building that houses to new Atomic City Bar.
I liked the nuclear cloud.
Walking briskly on a day that was still warm and still beautiful, two restless beings again headed behind the speedway and again found their way to the wide open dirt trail that we had followed in the almost-dark of the previous evening.
I agree with LC. We both think that this might have been (or the owner had intentions of it being) a drag strip.
There were no lights or timers or anything else to demonstrate that it had ever actually been an active drag strip at some point.
There are things all over the area that cause me to question.
In the moment I am curious about many things I come across. But not curious to actively pursue the answers.
It is more important that I have quiet, and this place provides me with much of that.
A lot of that.
Never too much of that..............
She patiently waits for me to snap a picture..................
The rise, as they always do in this vast place where it is so difficult to estimate elevations and distances, was higher than I first thought it was.
Pictures looking back over the area as we continued our climb............
As with so many places around this area, this hill was covered in rock.
Volcanic rock. Fungi covered rock.
Multi-covered and beautiful and interesting volcanic rock...............
As Kory and I wandered along the edge of the hill I looked down and saw a long, narrow double track trail that I instinctively knew would take us back to the road.
Instantly deciding to take that road on the way home we continued to explore this new place...............
When LC and I had ridden our bikes, we had unexpectedly come across a huge, excavated hill.
In the middle of nowhere and nothing, we both stood looking down at the huge trench we had found and wondered why? Why was it made? What was the point?
We had no idea then, and I had no idea again when I found THIS trench..............
LC and I had seen these from the highway not long after we first arrived in Idaho.
I had forgotten about them until Kory and I climbed the last section of hill and reached the top.
They had no markings, and as I walked around them wondered just what the heck I was looking at.
Separated by a distance of perhaps 20 feet, these two pieces of equipment worked silently but obviously worked together.
I thought at first that they might have something to do with weather tracking, but think perhaps it is more likely that they have something to do with earth movement tracking.
Mt Borah is the highest peak in Idaho and is close to 13,000 feet high.
Mt Borah is located just outside of Mackay in the Big Lost River Valley. A quote from Wikipedia:
On Friday, October 28, 1983, a magnitude 7.3 earthquake struck the Borah Peak area at 8:06 am MDT. The earthquake lifted Borah Peak over 7 feet (2.13 m). The peak was scarred on the western side and, as of July 2010, the mark is still visible. Two children in Challis were the only fatalities of the quake, struck by falling masonry while walking to elementary school.
I have aspirations to hike this peak one day. Or at least a good part of it. There is a section not far from the top called Chickenout Ridge. A descriptive and likely telling name, which is why I wrote "at least a good part of it...............
As we both stood at the top of the rise Kory looked out over forever, while I stood looking at something in the middle of the now completely beige desert plain.
I snapped this picture having no idea whether or not it would turn out, but it did.
If you click on the picture it will enlarge and you will see the bright orange wind sock in the middle of the desert.
For the first time I could see the air strip.
The term "air strip" should be used very loosely.
Short. Beginning as overgrown dirt and rock and ending with a wanna-be paved runway.
Nobody in Atomic City uses it, and I have no idea whether it is still in use.
If it is, the presumption would be that it is used by Secret Squirrels who inhabit the Secret Squirrel Lab not far away..............
After exploring to top of the rise for a long time I pulled Kory closer and headed towards a narrow trail that I could see would take us down to the double track and home.
As we climbed down the hill and headed towards the trail I instantly regretted my decision to take my dog this way.
There was a very large burn pit filled with endless junk and endless broken glass strewn over a wide area.
Pulling Kory as close to me as I could so that she would not accidentally wander through the field of broken glass, I snapped this quick picture of rusty cans (now rusty art) and headed for the trail...............
As we approached a sign on the side of the trail I snapped this picture and absently wondered what the sign said.............
Too late now....................
You ask of my companions. Hills, sir, and the sundown, and a dog as large as myself that my father bought me. They are better than human beings, because they know but do not tell.................Emily Dickinson