Yesterday we had to go to town to pick up screws and nails for a wood project, and a piece of pipe for our living room wood stove, to replace a piece that was badly rusted and should have been replaced before winter but wasn't.
I had walked earlier in the day with Kory. Me slowly walking a trail on BLM land while Kory happily ran and played and returned often to me for one more coveted piece of hot dog.
With the choice to go south towards Blackfoot or north towards Arco, we eventually decided on Arco.
Our first stop in Arco was a lumber yard.
It was a small place - certainly smaller than the one in Blackfoot, and as LC headed towards the front door of the ramshackle looking office I grabbed for Kory's leash and encouraged her out of the truck.
As we slowly wandered up and down the road on the outskirts of town where the lumber yard was located, I looked around me and realized for the second time that day, that it was a very beautiful and warm morning.
The sky was completely and utterly blue, and held the promise of spring.
As we continued to wander I looked down at my dog. She was happily sniffing every bush and blade of grass and foot print and animal print in the dirt, completely oblivious to the beautiful day.
Totally engrossed in contentedly investigating this new place.
I had expected LC to enter and exit the building very quickly.
After wandering for 10 minutes and realizing that I was walking with my dog in a very pretty place, we headed back to the truck so I could grab my camera, which was hidden at the bottom of the side pocket of my pack.
I hadn't taken any pictures on our walk that morning on BLM land.
Same old same old.
I was getting bored with taking pictures of the same buttes and the same desert and the same sweet dog running the same trails.
And so I had left my camera at the house, which is an exceptional and unusual thing for me to do.
We need to go somewhere. Do something different in a different place.
Something that is not related to the tedium of chores around the house.
This was a trip for a specific purpose, but as I wandered aimlessly with Kory, at least the world around me looked different.
An abandoned, doorless and windowless house at the end of the dead-end road we were slowly walking............
Every time we go to Arco it is a little startling just how close the hills and mountains seem.
I know in my head that Arco is the town at the base of the mountain ranges that make up the Big Lost River Valley.
But it is still startling none-the-less to make the transition in only 30 minutes, from the desert landscape of Atomic City to the mountain-surrounded town of Arco.
We have had a handful of warm days in a row recently and there is little snow left now.
Still late into winter, the world is brown and beige and treeless.
But against a backdrop of endless blue sky, it is still beautiful in ways that are different from the obvious lushness of summer.
As I continued wandering with my dog and wondering where my Mountain Boy had disappeared to, I walked towards the end of the driveway and the beginning of the two-lane highway that leads back towards the center of town.
Old fence. Old barns. Old farming equipment. And all the signs of a working lumber mill.................
I remembered this old and tiny structure from the time when we still lived in Cody and were only visitors to Arco.
House hunting almost this time last year.
The wooden building stands alone in a field on the opposite side of the highway.
With the mountains as its beautiful backdrop, this sweet little building always makes me smile............
I stood for a few minutes looking at this little building, reached down to pet my happy dog on top of her furry head and then rubbed one of her unfortunate ears before turning us around and heading back the way we had come.
I don't know how I missed it initially, but I stopped again when I saw this beautiful little pig weather vane on the roof of an old barn.
Such a cool thing and the sheer whimsy of it made me smile............
I have taken better and closer pictures of it in the past and will do so again in the future.
The first time we saw this hill was also when we were visiting while looking for a home.
It dominates the landscape in Arco much like Big Butte and Cedar Butte and the Twin Buttes dominate the landscape in Atomic City.
It follows you wherever you go in town, and it is one of those unique aspects of this often overlooked little town at the base of the valley.
I believe that it was in the 1920's when the graduating class at the high school decided to paint their graduating year up on the large hill in back of town.
Every year since the first, the graduating class has painted their year on the same hill.
A wonderful and lasting tradition (that, from what I have heard, often involves both rappelling gear and alcohol).............
By the time Kory and I had walked past the lumber mill office for the third time I knew that LC must have been enjoying a conversation with the young owner of the business.
I was pleased to think about that. Pleased that my Mountain Boy had made a connection and was engaged in conversation that was interesting and compelling. He needs that and I hoped that he had found that.
Big Butte in the distance and clearly visible from Arco...............
Thirty minutes after he had first disappeared inside the office of the lumber mill, LC walked out smiling and carrying stove pipe.
Surprisingly he had found the pipe, found the screws and found the nails.
And also surprisingly he had found two guys and conversation that he had enjoyed with people that was not me and (even though we greatly enjoy each others company) I was very pleased about that............
Later in the day I walked in Atomic City with Kory.
The bright sunshine of the day was already beginning to quickly fade, and as I looked over at the still-silent raceway I could see the purple mountains in the distance.
They were beautiful. Mystical. And the light (as it always is at this time of the day) was wonderful.
My favorite time of day.
We walked every road in town and walked until the sun began to set over the mountains.
As it has done hundreds of times since we arrived here, the sky turned brilliant shades of red and orange in one direction, and pink and blue in another............
Sunsets, like childhood, are viewed with wonder not just because they are beautiful but because they are fleeting............Richard Paul Evans