Monday, September 8, 2014

A Year In Atomic City - Part 2

We didn't have these kinds of skies this summer.
The kind that is both beautiful and imposing at the same time.  
The kind that appears like fire in the sky, and that appears to burn with so much barely contained energy that it almost feels alive.
I snapped this picture in mid August last year, while LC, Jamie and I were walking late into the evening.
As with the days before it and the days after it, THIS day had been unrelentingly hot and dry.
For the first six weeks that we lived in Atomic City it was so hot that the only thing we could do was close the curtains, turn on the swamp cooler, move the fans around, and try to stay as cool as we could inside the house.
We felt like vampires.
Only able to venture safely outside once the sun went down, and I hated every minute of it.
But skies like this one were the pay-off that we enjoyed almost every evening.  
And then (as though a switch had been flipped) summer was instantly over................
Before moving to AC I "Google-searched" pictures of the town and area, and came across this giant boom box.
It was so outrageous, so completely unexpected and random, that I was instantly curious about it.
What was the story behind it, and (after moving to Atomic City) where exactly WAS it?
It took me a week or so but eventually Jamie and I happened upon it during one of our walks.
It was laying behind some trees in a small, fenced field and looked exactly as it had in the pictures I had seen.
Since it was behind a locked gate I couldn't get close to it, but Jamie and I slowly walked past it, turned and walked past it in the opposite direction, and then turned once more, while I studied this curious thing.
It was a box truck turned giant boom box (we used to call them "ghetto blasters" when I was growing up).
Much later I learned that the property (including the nice piece of land, the old town school house, the just-tear-it-down mobile home, and the boom box) all belonged to someone who desperately wanted to sell out.
When the next owner bought the place the previous owner left the truck, took his money, supposedly moved down to Nevada and bought himself a small casino.
Or so the story goes.
The property was just recently sold again.  This time to a town resident who has spent the past few months happily cleaning up the place.  
He believes that he will be able to sell it at some point and make a nice profit and maybe he will and maybe he won't but I wish him the best.
When I was walking with Kory not long ago I walked down this same road, poked my head onto the property to admire the improvements and realized that the boom box was gone.
The last owner had taken it with him.
When I orginally found this ubiquitous object my first thought was that it should be located somewhere else in town.
In some public and easy-to-see place so that it would both draw and entertain tourists, as opposed to it simply being hidden and wasted in some overgrown field.
Locals don't think in those terms and so I kept my thoughts to myself.
I hope that it finds a new home in a place where people can appreciate it...............
During the times when it is very windy in this little community that is surrounded by buttes and the Snake River Plain, you have to side-step the tumbling tumble weeds as they race through town.
They get caught up in bushes.  We have picked them out of our trees.  They get caught in every fence.  
And although many of them speed through town on their way to the Twin Buttes and beyond, many of them also come to a final rest in corners.
Corners of fences.  Corners of empty sheds.  In town.
Over time entire gardens feet deep of dormant tumble weeds become an AC fixture.
Last year I thought that I might make a tumbleweed man (as opposed to a snow man or a mud man) at Christmas (complete with lights), but I never did.....................
I see this sign (that is laying the ground in front of a long-empty building) every single time I walk with my dog.
It speaks to me and I have thought more than once about picking it up and taking it home.
I keep resisting the urge but for how long is anybodys' guess.............
Late in the spring - when the weather swung wildly between warm days and freezing cold days - a huge herd of sheep appeared one day out on BLM land not far from town.
A sheep wagon lay on the outskirts of the herd, a beautiful paint horse was tied to the sheep wagon, and a handful of rugged and beautiful Great Pyrenees dogs watched the sheep protectively to keep them safe from desert predators.
When we saw them out there LC and I assumed that they would stay for the duration of the summer, as this large herd grazed their way from one section of BLM to another.
We saw them occasionally on BLM land behind the house, saw them across the highway on INL land, and then one morning I heard them just on the outskirts of town.
LC, Kory and I loaded into the Tahoe and drove to the silos, pulled the truck over to the side of the gravel road, and spent 30 minutes enjoying the sight of these lovely creatures.
The Twin Buttes were in the background, and underneath the sheep wagon were three white little fur ball puppies.
A few weeks later the sheep and the horse and the big dogs and the puppies were all gone.
Vanished just as unexpectedly as they had appeared..................
This picture was taken only a couple of months after we got Kory.
It was taken just on the outskirts of town, where she spent a few minutes joyfully running up and down a huge snow-covered rise on BLM....................
Taken at the gates to the Raceway at the far end of town.
The "Pit Enterance".
The frozen mist that had completely enveloped the town was slowly beginning to lift and I could see the promise of a cold but sunny and clear day off in the distance................
My angel and old wood spools in silhouette on a snowy day last winter...............
We had only had Kory for a couple of weeks when I took her for a walk.
She was still on leash while LC's back recovered from an injury and while our new 4-legged family member got to know the area in which she now lived.
A few weeks before, Kory had left the palm trees, warmth and endless sunshine of Tampa Bay, Florida.
A few weeks later she was walking on a freezing cold day in SE Idaho.
On this day the frozen mist was so thick that I could barely see 50 feet in front of me.
Holding onto her tightly, and fearful that if she got away from me she would disappear into the fog-shrouded desert, we walked along the road and headed towards the silos.................
This was one of my favorite pictures from last winter.
Kory and I walked beyond the fence line of an empty home, looked down the alley and were startled to see these deer all silently staring at us...............
One more of my favorite pictures.
It had snowed a few days before I snapped this sunset shot.
Mine and Korys'  footsteps were the only prints on the road.  No-one had traveled on this road in days...................
Our picnic table, made from old re-used wood and old skis................
A few days before Christmas last year LC unexpectedly slowed the truck down on the two-lane highway, on the way home from Blackfoot.
Backing up on the empty highway he smiled at me and said "you're gonna want a picture of that".
A picture of what?
As he pulled off the highway and pulled into the snow on the shoulder I finally saw what he was talking about.
Out in the middle of snowy nowhere, and in the middle of Idaho National Labatory land, someone had taken the time to decorate the only tree for miles around.
I took many pictures of this wonderful tree.
I was not in a holiday mood.  I had no desire to celebrate a holiday that was no longer special to me, although I had been trying to fake it for the sake of LC for weeks.
But the sight of this tree pleased me very much.
Someone - an unknown someone - had taken the time to stop alongside the road, walk in the cold, decorate a tree, and anonymously provide unexpected pleasure to strangers.
His (or her) tree, did that for me...............
Kindness can transform someone's dark moment with a blaze of light. You'll never know how much your caring matters............Amy Leigh Mercree

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