Sunday, December 8, 2013

Finding Your Own Answers

This morning the temperature gauge outside read -10.
About a week ago LC looked at me and seriously speculated whether or not we had made a mistake buying a home in SE Idaho.
We were at the end of November at that point and it was only a couple of degrees above zero, but the strong winds made it feel much colder outside.
He stewed over that question for a day or so until I walked into the office and told him that I had checked NOAA and it was 10 degrees colder in Cody at that moment than it was in Atomic City.
We had already spent a winter in Cody and this winter was nothing like last winter.
This winter was an anomaly.  Deep freeze cold in late November and early December instead of January and February.
It was very cold and we had a lot of cold to get through before winter was over, but not every winter would be like this one.
It was OK.........we liked our house, and the privacy and isolation of the area.  We didn't blow it............

With temperatures so very cold, the walks I have taken with Kory the past few days have been shorter, and with both of us staying closer to home as opposed to wandering endlessly on BLM land.
Just too damned freakin' cold to be out too long.
I feel badly for cutting them short.
But even though the cold and snow doesn't seem to bother my Florida pup at all, it certainly bothers this well traveled woman.
This morning, with the temperature gauge reading -10, I began to layer on clothing in the warm living room.
As my eager new pup impatiently danced and excitedly barked around me, I involuntarily shivered even at the thought of heading outside.
Surprisingly the air was dead calm and Kory and I ended up spending more time outside than expected.
Pictures and blog for another day.....................

These are a series of totally random pictures.  
Some I have posted on the blog before and some I have not.
They speak of a quiet life in a quiet town, over the 4 1/2 months we have now lived in Idaho
One of the things I noticed immediately after we moved here (in late July, and as the temperatures were the  scorching hot desert temperatures I had been dreading) was the sky.
Throughout the last month of summer I took many pictures of beautiful sunsets late in the day.
The cloud formations looked so different from what I was used to.
The combination of cloud and heat and light very often made the sky look absolutely and stunningly beautiful.
All through the end of summer and throughout the short fall season that we had, I found myself completely mesmerized by the sky............
There are only 20-something people in this tiny town.
With so few people it is somewhat surprising that there are any local businesses here at all, and yet there are.
There is a ramshackle bar called Magees, a mile from town.  On Highway 26 and right at the turnoff for Atomic City, LC and I visited it only once.
There are naked pictures of women wall papering entire walls of the place and I have heard stories that the establishment has no running water.
Which would be enough information to make a strong case for not eating anything that is prepared there, and not drinking anything that didn't come directly out of a bottle (just leave the cap on - I'll get it thanks!).
In truth the bar is only open for a couple of hours each day (4pm-6pm) and caters mostly to INL employees who pick up beer on their way home from work.
The owner closed the bar for a couple of months due to illness and the Atomic City Bar (below) picked up much of the slack during that time.
It is surprising and disconcerting just how many people feel the need to drink their way home each evening.
Aside from two bars, there is an RV park and the raceway (which is based here but owned by folks who live in Blackfoot). 
I'm going to reboot my own business in the spring.  It'll take some creative guerrilla marketing and we'll see what happens..........
I'm sure this large piece of machinery has an official name, but I don't know what it is.
It is used to smooth out the raceway dirt track surface.........
Just about the time I begin thinking about moving Kory's huge crate out of the bedroom, she decides that she still likes it and wants to use it.
Kory sleeps during the day mostly in the hallway of the house between the living room and bedrooms, and has subversively begun sleeping on the love seat at night when she thinks that we are sleeping and don't know where she is and what she is doing.
But she still likes her cave.
LC and I were talking the other day and it must have been so very hard on Kory to be separated from Kelley in Florida.
Kory had been at the shelter for many weeks before being adopted by a family. They returned her the day after they had adopted her, because she jumped their fence.
A few weeks later Kelley took her out of the shelter on our behalf, but Kelley and Kory spent a week together before our new pup flew to Idaho.
Kelley cried at the airport.
Kory didn't want to get into her crate.  She knew.
She knew that the woman she had grown fond of was leaving her.
And then all of a sudden Kory was in Idaho.  A place she didn't know and was being greeted by people that she didn't know.
She is such a loving, caring, sweet, accepting dog.  I can't even imagine how she must have processed everything that happened to her in such a short period of time.
No...........she can keep her cave.  
It is a safe place for her.............
Kory and I have walked on many trails around Atomic City.........
I had heard from locals that there was a cave out on BLM land, and a few weeks ago (when the weather was still warm and the sun was endlessly shining) we found it.
With the Twin Buttes in view I snapped this picture of the cave, and as Kory and I wandered around it I quickly decided that I was not going to explore inside the thing.
I had pictured "cave".  Nice, friendly, rocky, high ceiling, walk-in cave.
Not some weird little underground opening, duck down to walk inside cave.
The same local who told me about it also told me that there were a number of "rooms" in the cave, but even that was not enough incentive for me to climb down there, duck into a dark hole and see what was there.
Early into my adventure racing days, I was doing a 12 hour race with two other women in eastern TN.
One of the check points we had to punch was located inside a cave.
We walked into the cave and ran into another team there who pointed us in the direction of the punch.
One of our team would have to slide on their belly through a small and damp opening to get to it.
I was in better shape than my two younger team-mates, and during races with these girls I would carry their gear or push their bike up a steep and narrow and unrideable hill all day long to help a tired racer.
But I wasn't going through that little hole.
No.  Nope.  Uh uh.  Not gonna happen. 
Thankfully one of my team-mates was less claustrophobic than I was and agreed to pick up the point.
I snapped a couple of pictures of the opening of this below ground cave, snapped pictures of a huge nest that was resting on a rock right at the opening, and Kory and I headed back the way we had come.............
While still walking on the same trail I stood for a few minutes watching this little prop job fly in circles around the area before finally landing at the tiny air strip on the opposite side of town from where I was located.
A couple of other times over the last couple of months I have seen these same tiny planes land on the weed-overgrown strip.
At first I thought that it was Secret Squirrels from the INL Secret Squirrel Lab, but later found out that the planes were likely carrying BLM folks who routinely monitor game in the area............
Although we live in a very small and very quiet community, these desert rats have touches in and around their properties that makes houses a home.
From functional art on the outside wall of a shed to metal horse heads on a stump to birdhouses and wind chimes and more..............
Deer in our back yard.
The door leaning up against the house is an awesome and heavy thing that used to be a horse trailer door in another life.
Made of forged iron, reflectors and weathered wood this thing weighs a ton.
We found it while living in Cody, it leaned up against the house we were renting while there, and then we dragged it to Idaho with us.
LC and I both love this thing but still can't figure out exactly what to do with it.  
I had initially pictured it as the top for an over sized coffee table but now I'm not sure I want to take up that much room in the living room, and so it patiently sits and waits for us to make up our minds.
The wood will sit where it is until spring when we can cut it and split it and let it dry out.  A start on wood for next winter.
The house hasn't been painted in over 20 years and it looks like it.  Right now we're debating whether to paint it grey or light brown in the spring...............
When LC and I first moved to Wyoming the sight of animal bones out on BLM land was unsettling.
We saw them often.
Skulls.  Rib cages.  Bone fragments.  Long bones.  Hides.  
The remnants of what used to be animals that roamed freely in the high desert plains of BLM land around where we lived at the time.
Sometimes there would simply be one bone - sitting alone in the sand of the desert - that had been carried off by one animal or another and left to bleach in the sun when it was eventually abandoned.
Sometimes we would find enough skeletal remains, that it was obvious the animal had died exactly where we had found it.
The most unsettling place we found was high in the hills behind our house in Cody.  There were a number of carcasses spread out over a large area in a canyon, and since there was a mountain lion known to live in the area it was obvious that we had unexpectedly found the place where this lion brought his kills.
I wrote a blog entry about it entitled BLM Killing Fields:
Over time I became accustomed to finding animal bones out on public lands though.
It is part of life and death in the deserts out west.
And so it goes here in Idaho, where I also have come across the remnants of animals during walks with Kory..............
I don't usually title pictures but this one just screamed "Rock On A Stick".
This heavy rock was balancing on top of an old fence post in the middle of a field, and I studied it for a few moments wondering why on earth it was there, and who on earth would put it there.
Just one of their weird and totally random things..............
Pictures of both Big Butte and the Twin Buttes.
The Twin Buttes are nice but Big Butte holds a special place for me.
It stands silent and alone.
A lone, strong, beautiful, towering piece of rock in the desert.
It has trees and trails and canyons and endless hills and endless views of the world in all directions.
We live in between the two sets of buttes (with the Twins being a few miles closer to the house).
We can see the buttes from Pocatello.  From Blackfoot.  From Arco.  From Craters of the Moon.
They dominate the landscape, and although there are many buttes in what looks like a deceptively flat Snake River Plain, these three tower over the rest..............
Three of many vehicles that are parked on properties all over Atomic City that never move.  Ever.
One vehicle in town is an old convertible with the top down (still with the keys in the ignition).
The outside blue truck in this picture doesn't have a passenger side window.
There is an old abandoned mobile home whose door alternately open and then slams shut when it is windy.
One of many things in this town where you have to either shrug shoulders, shake head or roll eyes..............
But it's not the quirkiness or even the sometimes weirdness that I enjoy so much.
It is this..............
Speaking of quirkiness and sometimes-weirdness...............
This guy was sitting safely on top of our neighbor's fence a few weeks ago, silently staring Kory down as we walked by.
He must be a tough character.  Our neighbor at one time had five cats.
The coyotes got the other four, and this scrappy little survivor is the only one left.....................
Other random pictures that just speak for themselves..............
The most important questions in life can never be answered by anyone except oneself...................John Fowles

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