Thursday, August 28, 2014

Mud Man

There is a raceway in Atomic City, that is located on the edge of town.
Over the years the raceway has gradually transitioned from a large and bustling production to a more down scaled production.
Even from last summer to this, it has become a noticeably (and thankfully) smaller affair.
Every year in August the race organizers host a major event called the Wild West Tour.
Last year, after only being in quiet Atomic City for a few weeks at that point, LC and I watched bemused and surprised as hundreds of racers and family members, car trailers and huge campers noisily descended on this tiny town in preparation for the big racing shindig.
Racing was Friday night and Saturday night, and for a couple of days prior to the start of the event folks wandered into town from many states and parked their monstrous rigs in usually empty green spaces throughout town.
The raceway grounds, the town park, the little RV park, a few residents driveways and yards........all full.
Drivers spent the days prior to (and then the days of) getting their cars ready for the evening races, while family members noisily and speedily tooled through town on four wheelers, completely disregarding the fact that they had actually descended on a real town.  With real people who called this place their real home.
For one noisy weekend the residents of Atomic City were the outsiders.
By the time the frenetic people moving at their frenetic pace blew out of town very late on Saturday night or very early on Sunday morning, LC and I were more than pleased to see them go.
Of course we had known about the raceway before we bought the house so had little reason to complain.
But why Atomic City had ever voted to have a raceway in their town, when they had negotiated (and received) zero tangible benefits (financial or otherwise) from the business, was beyond me.
But it was what it was and it was a done deal long before LC and I had ever heard of a tiny, nothin' desert town in Idaho with the presumptuous name.
This year races have been less frequent and shorter in duration.  
Participant numbers are down and the raceway is for sale.
Who knows what the future will bring for Atomic Motor Raceway but this new resident would not be heart broken if the whole deal closed up shop for good and for always.
The Wild West Tour was  completely different this year than it was last year.
August of 2013 was a very hot and very dry month.  
August of 2014 has been wet and cold.
And so it went the weekend of the tour this year.  
Few vehicles and trailers and campers invaded the town in the days prior to the races, and by Friday morning it had been pouring with rain almost non-stop for a couple of days.
The raceway (as was the rest of the world in and around AC) was a cold, dreary and muddy mess.
By Friday evening the rain had stopped and after bundling up in sweater, rain jacket and wool hat to battle against the wind and damp cold, I walked with Kory to see how many vehicles had arrived unnoticed in the rain.................
Races were cancelled Friday night...................

Saturday morning the world was a little brighter but the forecast still threatened rain.
I walked with Kory again, eager to see the unexpectedly green world that we were now living in.
A good number of campers and trailers were haphazardly strewn throughout town.
 Drivers with pent-up race-energy were already drinking beer and aimlessly four-wheeling on muddy gravel roads in town - killing time while waiting for both the weather and racing prognosis.
 Water trucks were valiantly working overtime sucking water off the track.
 And race officials were standing on the track with their heads together trying to figure out what they could do to salvage at least some of the biggest racing weekend of the year....................
Although NOAA promised rain in Atomic City on Saturday, and the skies constantly threatened the release their pent up energy, nothing actually fell from the sky.
This year there were no grand trips out onto BLM land by family members of drivers.  No speeding trips through every street in town by both four wheeling adults and (more concerning) four wheeling and unhelmeted children.
This year there was little desert adventure.  Instead there was more cold.  More rain.  More waiting.  Fewer vehicles.
Racers finally revved their engines to begin racing at 7pm on Saturday evening, were done a little after midnight, and most were already sleeping in their own beds in their own homes by the time we woke to blue sky and sunshine on Sunday morning.
A fitting biggest-weekend-of-the-year, for a struggling dirt-track raceway...................
Late on Sunday afternoon I walked through town with Kory again, quietly relishing in the realization that we had our town back.  
That the interlopers were gone and that we could again reclaim our town as our own.
As me and my dog walked closer to the now-empty raceway I saw something in front of a house, and close to the edge of the road.
I had no idea what it was, but it was something new.
As I got closer I smiled inwardly.
Somebody over the past muddy and wet and cold weekend had figured a way to stay busy and kill some time.
Mud Man was only about two feet tall, but (aside from our resident town deer) he was the coolest, neatest thing that I had seen in town in a long time.
I hope Mud Man sticks around for a while.................

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Made Up Curse Words

These pictures were all taken a couple of weeks ago on one partially sunny and partially overcast day.
Last year our first August in Atomic City was one long, unmercifully dry month of unrelenting heat.
This year has been night and day different.
Over the past few weeks we have had more rain than sunshine.
Heavy rain complete (much to the chagrin of my inconsolable and terrified dog) with thunder and lightning.
Temperatures have been unseasonably cold.  Yesterday temperatures struggled to reach 60 degrees.  
By mid afternoon it was 52 degrees and falling, and Challis (which is only a couple of hours north of us) received snow in the mountains surrounding that tiny town in the valley.
Snow in August.
On one sunny and cool day a couple of weeks ago I walked with Kory on BLM land immediately in back of town.
For months through spring and early summer we tried to break Kory of her desire to run away from us, and head back to town to go exploring on her own.
There are familiar places and familiar faces in town - those who pet her or give her treats.  She knows them and feels comfortable with them.
But there are also deer in town - bucks, does, does with fast-growing infants. 
There is a lady who had adopted six kittens.
There is another family with free roaming chickens.
In short, all kinds of things that our curious, nose driven dog could easily get herself in trouble with.
Although it is still not completely dependable, our adventurous pup is finally learning that she can enjoy the freedom to roam, but that she needs to come back when we call her to return to us.................

I took this picture the night before our sunshiny walk.
Throughout spring and summer Big Butte was completely open to the desert.
Unencumbered by cloud cover all the way through the end of July.
Beyond July it is as though someone flipped a switch, and when temperatures first dropped and the rain first began we expected that it would be only a short term, unseasonably cool and wet few days.
We fully expected the blast furnace to return at any moment, but so far it has not..............
There is a very beautiful, black boxer-lab dog named Maddy (short for Madison) in Pocatello.
Her owners are desperately searching for a new home for their pup before they move.
She is two years old, spade, house broken and beautiful and we are thinking about it.
Would Kory like a playmate?
Would it disrupt the comfortable routines that we all have developed over the past 9 months since we got Kory, or would Maddy be a good addition to this home?
Would Kory enjoy the companionship or would the addition of another dog be upsetting?
Do WE want the disruption of another dog?  The responsibility of caring for one more?
We are thinking of asking the owner to bring Maddy out to our house.  So we can meet Maddy on Korys' home turf.  So we can all walk on BLM land together and so we can see how the dogs interact with each other.
We're not sure but we're considering it.................
Throughout hot and dry July BLM land began to take on the predictable "scorched earth" appearance of the Snake River Plain in summer.
Everything was brown and beige.  No green left in the desert.
By the time I took these pictures there was the barest hints of green beginning to make their reappearance.
I will post pictures another day of what this joint looks like now.
I never imagined that it could be so green here in August.
The rain and cool temperatures have been the unexpected gift of the summer here................
Our dog likes to roll in..............nasty things.
She has had more baths in the last few weeks than she had in total during the previous eight months.............
The other night we went to the town bar to eat bar-b-q with some of the residents here in Atomic City.
By the time we walked out of the bar the sun had already set and there only the barest of daylight remaining.
Looking across the road towards the motel (to use the term very loosely) I saw them grazing in the yard in back.
As we drove past them I counted one buck, five does, and six babies.
The deer in town are still spread out.  We still see them sporadically and unpredictably in groups of three or five or sometimes alone.
But there are more and more all the time.  We are seeing them more often now, and that trend will continue for months to come.
This picture was taken a couple of weeks ago of the mother with twins.
The twins are now bigger than Kory is, and I find quiet excitement in their regular appearances because Kory and I have followed their growth ever since they were tiny, wobbly, brand new little things............
Bucks silently watching us closely as we walked by..............
LC and I decided sometime during the summer that we needed a storage shed in one corner of the backyard.
A place to store the lawnmowers and weed eaters, and yard hand tools (shovels and rakes and such).
Predictably, the structure began as something small and has somehow morphed into something that is now almost 200 square feet.
The structure has come a long way since the time these pictures were taken (we're ready to roof now) but it has been a long process.
We used all reclaimed lumber to build the frame and walls.  
Using reclaimed lumber sounds like such a cool idea when you say it fast.  
Used wood - not so much.  
Aged and rustic is fine when it comes to making picture frames, but it is nothing short of a complete pain in the rear when it comes to building a shed.
Nothing was the right size.  Some had nails or screws in it.  Some was rotten.  Most of it had varying degrees of warp-age.
But because we had gotten our hands on so much free wood over the past six months we decided to use it to build our shed, figuring that at the end of the day we could paint it the same color as the house (which we have still not decided on yet), and that painting it would just pull it all together.
That still holds true. 
At the stage where we are now with it, it looks really good.
But I think that LC made up new curse words along the way..
And he is very creative in that regard.
Pictures of the skeleton of the shed while it was still in its early stages.
More pictures to follow later.............
These pictures were taken through the trees, while standing at the fence line in the back yard.
We had been working on the shed for hours (well.........LC had been working and I had been doing the unskilled monkey jobs).
Twin Buttes between the trees during a quick walk through town with Kory on the same evening...............
We humans may be brilliant and we may be special, but we are still connected to the rest of life. No one reminds us of this better than our dogs. Perhaps the human condition will always include attempts to remind ourselves that we are separate from the rest of the natural world. We are different from other animals; it's undeniably true. But while acknowledging that, we must acknowledge another truth, the truth that we are also the same. That is what dogs and their emotions give us--a connection. A connection to life on earth, to all that binds and cradles us, lest we begin to feel too alone. Dogs are our bridge--our connection to who we really are, and most tellingly, who we want to be. When we call them home to us, it'as as if we are calling for home itself. And that'll do, dogs. That'll do...........Patricia B. McConnell, For the Love of a Dog: Understanding Emotion In You and Your Best Friend