Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Day In Arco

Spending a long day in Arco today was one of the nicest ways I have spent a day in quite a while.
LC had a meeting in Arco this morning, and while he was showering and dressing I wandered into the bedroom to let him know that I was taking Kory for a walk before we headed to the small community at the base of the Big Lost River Valley.
In fact, we'd walk the gravel back road that led to the highway and he could pick us on the way.  
Take your time.  Don't hurry.  We'll see you when you're ready.
With that I headed towards the front door and Kory (as usual) eagerly followed beside me, excitedly getting underfoot and knowing that it was time to do one of her favorite things.
Be outside.
She didn't care if outside involved a truck ride or a walk or a run.  
My sweet new dog instinctively knew that whatever we were doing involved outside, and outside was all she needed to know.
By the time I saw the familiar shape of our white Tahoe slowly driving the gravel road (and leaving a cloud of dust in its wake) Kory and I were a mile or so outside of the city limits.
Arco is 30 miles from Atomic City, and the drive is fast and quiet and relatively flat.
Within a few miles of the Arco city limits the sage brush filled terrain suddenly changes.
Hills appear - the typical dusty BLM hills look from a distance as though they are barren, but if you look closer you suddenly realize that those tiny dark specks at the top of each hill are actually trees.
The closer you get to Arco the more you realize that behind those dusty hills are the peaks of much taller and much richer hills (and then mountains), the base of which are only a few more miles further up the valley.
There is a small consignment store in Arco, and as we pulled into town I asked my Mountain Boy to drop me off there.  He would be busy for a while, and I told him that I would meet him at the truck when he was done.
I spent the next 20 minutes wandering around an eclectic little store, talking with a friendly and elderly store owner, and finally purchasing two tiny pairs of Nike and LL Bean hiking boots that will eventually find their way to a little boy in Tennessee.
Tedious shopping at a tedious Dollar Store, and by the time I found my way to the Tahoe I knew that my pup would be ready to wander.
So.........we are now rapidly heading towards the middle of May.  The day had started in Atomic City as a sunny-cloudy-cool-windy day.
By the time I eagerly greeted my waiting dog the wind had gotten even stronger, the temperature had dropped, and I felt the first drops of rain that quickly turned into wet snow.
Somebody told me yesterday that the Rockies have two seasons.  Winter and summer and one of those is much longer than the other.
I know that LC is tired of the cold.  
I am not.
According to NOAA there is a 50% chance of rain and snow over the weekend, and by mid week temperatures are forecasted to be in the mid 70's.
I am not tired of the cold and LC is tired of the cold, but both of us are floored by the drastic changes in weather that greets residents of the west at this time of year.
By the time LC walked out of the office smiling at me and smiling at my dog, we were both ready to eat.............
The Mountain Man Trading Post is located on the outskirts of Arco heading towards Craters of the Moon.
It contains locally grown fruits and vegetables and a surprisingly small selection of typical trading post craft items.
Most importantly it contains a small home-cooking sit-down restaurant.
The word "restaurant" actually seems far too formal for what this portion of the trading post is.
It could be more aptly described as a community meeting place where locals also happen to eat.
The coffee pot is always going, and visitors casually help themselves.
There is one lady that we met at the Mountain Man during our very first trip to this area, while were still living in Cody.  
Interestingly she is from Tennessee.  A wonderful, educated, always smiling (even during the adversities she has faced that have involved her health over the past few years) woman, who I befriended while eating a hot dog during that first trip.
We always exchange phone numbers when we run into each other (which is every time we find ourselves in Arco) and we always lose each others' numbers, but whenever we see each other it is as though we have known each other for years.
Half way through our lunch on this day she walked in the door of the trading past and a brief and quick lunch suddenly turned into a long and visit-filled lunch.
Food is ample and cheap at the Mountain Man, and it is not unusual for the owner to place a jar of jam on the table that was made by his wife if you are eating breakfast, or a jar of salsa made by the owner if you are eating lunch.
The owner is a smiling, thoughtful, intelligent, easy-going man whose name I cannot remember because LC always calls him Preacher.
He is a deeply religious man who pastors at a local church when not standing over a grill at the Mountain Man, and if the place is quiet he grabs a seat at our table and discusses local goings-on while we eat.
Often-times the conversation leads into religious discussions, and he and LC ruminate while I watch and listen and contribute nothing.
My psyche precludes discussion about religion, but LC comes from an eclectic family of preachers, musicians, police officers and criminals, and he has much to offer these discussions.
My favorite place to eat in Arco...............
We had planned on our trip to Arco being a brief one - a meeting, lunch, grocery shopping and then back to Atomic City.
But the woman I spoke of above told us that there was a yard sale in Moore.
On a changeable day filled with sun and sleet and rain and wet snow, we headed to Moore.
These pictures were all taken on the side road leading to the yard sale.
A yard sale filled with outdoor gear and outdoor clothing and we spent a LONG time rummaging, and visiting with the elderly and friendly and very personable home-owners.................
After spending much more time than we had expected at the yard sale we finally loaded our bags into the back of the Tahoe.
As we drove out of the driveway and picked a back road that we hoped would take us back towards Arco I heard a noise behind me.
Looking back I realized that Kory had jumped into the back and was fumbling around among the mess of yard sale finds and Dollar Store bags, trying to weave her way back into her seat.
Which would have been fine only we had bought a lamp shade.
A beautiful brown and black lampshade filled with beautiful silhouettes of bears and pines trees and moose that I knew would look great on the lamp we had in the living room.
She was standing right behind it.
At first I thought that Kory was going to veer to the right and miss the shade, and then I realized by her body language that she was going to make a jump straight ahead in an attempt to get to the back seat.
I had just enough time to yell "Kory No!"
I heard the crunch and watched as the lampshade crumpled under the four paws of a 55 pound dog.
She made it back into her seat and then looked at me with uncertain eyes because I had yelled.  
Disappointed about the shade, I also wasn't angry at an unknowing and loving dog.
"You OK Baby?"  I pet her face, and then rubbed her ears in the same way that I rubbed Jamies' for so many years.
Kory liked that too.
A few more rubs, a few more reassuring and loving words, a window rolled down and a dog-nose put to the wind, and her adventure in the back seat was quickly forgotten.
On the way back towards Arco LC impetuously decided that he wanted to visit one more person.
This elderly man is fast and furious friends with the same giddy woman from Tennessee.
They are both single.  Have both had serious health issues.  Both look out for each other and are conspiring to drive up to Alaska together this summer.
Fast friends and I think ONLY fast friends, but I enjoy watching them together.
It is obvious that they enjoy each others' company, depend on each other for support and friendship and stability, and I think that they are both less lonely because they share in each others lives.
Pictures taken from this mans' home.
He owns 30 acres and grows alfalfa.
The men visited and I quietly wandered with my dog, who by this time was desperate to be in motion................
If you click on the pictures they will enlarge, and you will see Number Hill (that dominates the landscape in Arco) and larger pictures of the mans' property.
And after a day of ever changing weather, the sun by this time was shining.
The wind was also so strong that I stood for a few minutes in the middle of a barren field.
I watched as a long stream of dust traveled from west to east, approaching me and Kory and then bypassing us, only to continue its journey as it moved closer and closer to downtown Arco................
Still wandering the mans' property, this picture was looking south.
Big Butte was clearly visible..............
After a long day of meetings and walks and lunches and yard sales and visiting and grocery shopping, we made it home.
After bringing our pup into the house, LC and I tiredly began to unload the truck.
LC reached into the back of the Tahoe, pulled out the lamp shade and we took a good look at it for the first time.
We both looked at each other in amazement.
The moose side of the shade was a little........crinkled.........but it was all still basically in one piece.
It wasn't in as good a shape as it had been when we bought it, but after watching Kory squish it neither of us could believe that it was still salvageable.
Indeed it was....................

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