Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Out And Back To Idaho - Part 3

The drive through Idaho Falls and then Blackfoot was both disorienting and shocking.
As we drove through the busy small city of Idaho Falls we looked to both our left and right as we crossed over the bridge that spanned the falls and the greenway.
We had loved that place - walking alongside the Snake River and enjoying this beautiful green space.
A space filled with unique benches, gorgeous flower gardens, statues and topiaries, and ducks and geese and views of the falls.
The most beautiful part of Idaho Falls without a doubt.
And as we continued through IF and then picked up a secondary highway that would take us into Blackfoot, LC and I looked at each other in eyes-wide-open surprise.
The noise.  The traffic.  The billboards.  The graffiti.  The endless stores and restaurants and people...........
We weren't used to any of it anymore.
None of it.
And when we got to Blackfoot we did the same thing.
There are 52,000 people in IF but only 10,000 in BF, but the businesses and disorganization and people were all overwhelming.
We silently looked around us.
We silently looked over at each other.
We silently both thought the same thing - endlessly pleased that we were now in Cody.
And a year after we left this place and arrived in Cody we owned a business and had bought a house.
Not only were we in Cody, we were now all in.
And it felt good.
And right............................

The motel we stayed in the last time we were in Blackfoot now charged $30 more a night (plus another $10 penalty-fee for paying with cash instead of a credit card).
It was a fitful overnight stay for both of us - too stuffy, the pillows were too flat, and we both just wanted to get on with it.
Get our camper, get out of Dodge, and go home.
To Wyoming................

Early the next morning we ate a good sit-down breakfast and then eagerly headed over to the garage where we had left our camper six months earlier.
It now had all brand new tires and the wheel bearings had been worked on, and both LC and I hoped that it both rolled easier than it had before and that the pulling would be easier on gas than it had been before.
90 minutes after we had checked out of the motel we were back on the highway - headed up towards Island Park, West Yellowstone, Yellowstone National Park, North Fork and then on to Cody.
It had been a nice and uneventful trip through the park the day before, and we hoped for a nice and uneventful trip home.
 Even though we had driven our truck quite a bit in the few weeks leading up to the trip, both LC and I crossed fingers and hoped that all went well.
The truck needed some work.
We knew that.
None of it had been a deal breaker in terms of taking it to Idaho but it was still a mostly untested truck, there was a LOT of uphill between Idaho and Wyoming to pull a camper up and over, and........and.........we'd see..................

By the time we were well into the long and seemingly endless climb from Idaho Falls up to West Yellowstone MT our truck had picked up a really horrible whining noise.
We looked at each other a few times with increasing trepidation.
"That sounds bad".
By the time we reached Island Park we were looking for a garage.
At the third gas station we finally found one.
They had just gone for lunch.  Be back in an hour.
An hour later we learned that one tire had picked up a nail, so it needed patching.
In addition, some work on the rear end that had been done in Cody had not been done correctly, and needed to be redone before we could continue.................

While LC dealt with mechanics who seemed to care nothing about customer service - or even common politeness - I wandered with Kory.
Behind the garage was a fence that prevented me and my dog from traveling further, but through the fence I could see a small lake.
For a few moments I forgot to worry about the truck and forgot to be annoyed at rude and uncaring mechanics.
For a few moments I stood and looked through the fence and was reminded of how much I had always liked Island Park...................
Circling back to the garage I saw that LC was still knee deep in morons.
Moving on, Kory and I headed down a side road adjacent to the garage.
We wandered for a long time on this dirt road and I snapped occasional pictures while at the same time enjoying the sudden and unexpected silence me and my dog had found..................
Three hours after limping into Island Park, LC called me to let me know they were done.
We were way behind schedule by this time and all plans that we had for taking our time through the park went out the window.
We had to tackle Sylvan Pass just before reaching the East Gate of Yellowstone National Park, and we had no desire to tackle that huge pass (with its huge drop-offs into nothingness) after dark.
There had been off and on snow in the park for at least the past month, roads consistently iced over during the night and thawed again during the day, and we did NOT want to pull a camper up (and control a camper down) Sylvan Pass after dark.
And so the pressure was now on to make time...............

We stopped briefly for gas at West Yellowstone and quickly hit the road again.
We did not stop again until we crossed over the Fishing Bridge inside the park.
With beach and the huge Yellowstone Lake before us, we all three eagerly climbed out of the truck and stretched our legs.
Taking turns heading for rest rooms, I and then LC wandered with Kory on the beach and let her do some enjoyable dog things - sniffing and investigating and drinking the lake water, and then tentatively stepping up to her belly in the water before turning back.
We had needed the break but it was time to move on.
We wanted to get out of the park before dark..................
Traffic lined the side of the road for 1/2 a mile and we both wondered what they had found.
A grizzly bear.
Wandering alone in a field behind some trees.
Reluctantly we elected to keep moving.
We made it off Sylvan Pass in one piece, our truck did fine, and once we were out of the park we simply relaxed and cruised our way home.
We had left Cody mid-morning on the Sunday.  
We were back by early evening on the Monday.
An out and back trip to Idaho, two beautiful drives through the park, a truck we increasingly trust now that it was been tested, a camper finally back with us where it belongs, and a couple of days of reminders about why we love Cody WY so much.................
Home isn't where you're from, it's where you find light when all grows dark.............Pierce Brown, Golden Son

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Out And Back To Idaho - Part 2

It took a minute to process what was happening.
We had been slowly but steadily making our way through the park, enjoying the occasional bison herd, wondering if the sky was going to remain overcast or clear out, and surprised at just how many tourists were still on vacation this late in the year.
It was getting cold you guys - go home already!
Suddenly vehicle after vehicle hit their brakes, and we did the same, surprised at the unexpected need to stop.
Still far back and with nothing to see, we assumed that there was a bear close by.
And then we saw them...........

They were so far in front of us that at first we thought it was just a handful of bison standing in the middle of the road.
Indeed - that would bring everything to a standstill.
And then we realized that the handful were on the move and coming our way.
And that there were more behind that first handful.................
It took a few seconds to process what was happening and then I raised my camera and starting furiously snapping pictures through the dirty windshield.
The herd was huge.
And on the move.
Migrating from one place to another - where, they themselves knew but we did not.
But as this spectacle continued to unfold in front of us, LC and I (and even our silently staring dog) were mesmerized.
None of us had ever seen such a sight.
And it was extraordinary to see...................
There were 2 that stood out in this herd.
The large one in the picture below who stood head and shoulders and hump above every other bison that passed us.
And one whose picture I did not get - a light brown calf.
A little guy.
Born later in the year than every other young bison in this huge herd, but who somehow managed to keep up and stay with the herd...................
It took 20 minutes for the entire herd to pass us by.
They never hit any vehicles although many of them ventured around, in front of and behind.
They knew where they were going, and as we started to move again LC and I spoke with excitement about what we had just seen.
It was only after we were on the road and moving again that we began to realize that the traffic coming from the opposite direction was backed up for 10 miles.
Guys at the back saw none of it and most likely had NO idea why they had been stopped for so long.
Amazing experience......................

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Out And Back To Idaho - Part 1

There were two major things that belonged to us, that remained in Idaho.
Our camper and a huge Native American picture.
We had put the picture on loan at the library in Challis ID when we had a mindset to do some major renovations to our house in Atomic City.
The picture was huge (about 3ft x 4ft) and surrounded by a very heavy wood frame, and after fretting for a few weeks about what to do with it, we came up with what seemed like a fine idea to keep it safe.
We would put it on loan at a library.
Challis Public Library (about 2 1/2 hours north of us) was the first to gratefully accept our offer and we proceeded to transport the picture up there the next week, content in the knowledge that our beautiful picture would be safe.
That was two years ago.
We did some things to the house over the first winter but not the major projects that we had envisioned.
The following spring we put a FSBO sign out front of the house, after reluctantly but inevitably coming to the realization that one family who had moved into town was intent on trashing the town and running roughshod over the population.
 We needed to get out before all the work we had done over the four years we had been there was for nothing.
The writing was on the wall and the continuing deterioration of the town would eventually mean that we would never be able to sell the house.
No decent people would ever want to move there.
A few months later we secured a real estate agent, put the house on the market, sold the house within a month and moved out a month later.
Through the entire manic pace that life had suddenly taken on, we never made it back up to Challis to get the picture.
Instead we left it, just as easily as we left the state of Idaho...............

Once we had been in Wyoming for six months we found ourselves in a rental home and made arrangements to retrieve our Suburban, our camper, our boat, our picture, and the 500 sq feet of stuff we had stored in 400 sq feet of storage units. 
The forecast had promised to be cold and dry.
Instead the entire region was cold and snow-filled, and we never made it to Challis to retrieve our picture as we had planned.
And the camper got left behind as well when the movers misjudged the size of truck needed and we ended up pulling a small Uhaul trailer behind one of the vehicles.
Again the picture was left behind.................

Fast forward six more months and my business was up and running, we had bought a home up the Southfork and we felt like we finally had our feet underneath us.
A little.
It was time to go get our camper.
Before winter hit.
We weren't going to Challis (which was a six hour round trip out of the way).  The picture wasn't going to enter the equation.
This was an out and back trip - through the park on Saturday, spend the night in Blackfoot, and return through the park on Sunday.................. 

The Saturday morning we left was socked it and very cold.
It has been cold for a couple of weeks straight now.
It seems early to be so consistently cold but it is what it is, and after a quick stop for gas and coffee on the outskirts of Cody, we began our journey.
Wary of how our new (to us) truck would do on its first big trip and eager to head into Yellowstone National Park.............

Pictures taken during a quick stop in the Northfork, on the way to the park.
We always tell ourselves that we will stop in a different place - and we DO stop at many of the pull-offs, picnic areas and campgrounds along the route between Wapiti and the East Gate of the park, but we always seem to gravitate to this one every single trip.
It overlooks the river, is surrounded by endless rugged mountains, and at this time of year also overlooks bright yellow trees................
I always call this Bart Simpson Rock..................
One last stop at Pahaska Campground before entering the park....................
We sold our beautiful white truck.
It had 109,000 miles on it.
Someone had backed into the drivers side door last summer and they did not want insurance companies involved in the incident (which was telling).
But they had plenty of money and were grateful to simply be able to pay cash for the repairs.
While we were getting THOSE repairs done, we paid to have a couple of other minor dings repaired and painted as well.
By the time we picked it up from the shop in Powell the truck looked perfect..........

Which was why we sold it................

We had bought a home on a gravel road.
I needed a truck to toss a kayak or mountain bike into the bed.
LC needed a truck to haul lumber and loads of gravel.
We both needed a truck to haul random pieces of furniture we picked up in our travels.
We both needed a truck that suited our fur-shedding mutt.
In short.........we needed a truck that suited our lifestyle. 
Not a show piece truck.
A few weeks after we sold our pretty white truck LC came home with this thing.
It has 144,000 miles on it.
It gets 13 miles per gallon, but is not our primary vehicle.
He paid $800 for it.  
We have put another $2000 into it for repairs, and another few hundred for two new front tires.
It's a one ton hoss of a truck, we both love it, and we both knew that neither one of us would break into tears if we got a scratch on it..............

A few days after we got this truck (and about three weeks before our trip over to Idaho) we took it down to the lake late in the evening.
We weren't there very long.
In fact, about 10 minutes after we arrived it began to thunder and our scaredy-dog immediately turned and ran for the safety of the truck.
By the time LC and I got back our fearful pup was in a state of blind, ballistic terror.
As LC unlocked the truck doors I bent down to stroke the head of our beautiful dog, knowing that she was terrified as always by the sound of regular claps of thunder.
The thunder struck again and she jumped.
One minute she was flat footed on the ground beside me.
The next minute she was up on the hood of the truck.
Startled, I reached for her, trying to hold her, trying to encourage her back down to the ground and into the truck.
Once Kory was secured inside the cab I looked at the hood.  Scratches.  Lots of new scratches.
Surface scratches that likely would buff out but..............
Yes..............this was a better truck for us...............
We had not been to Yellowstone at all this summer.
There were many things we didn't get to do this summer.
But we got a business off the ground, we bought a house and we went on endless small adventures, so it wasn't a total loss..............

We excitedly passed through the East Gate and almost immediately began to climb up into Sylvan Pass.
With the increase in elevation we again found ourselves in the frozen mist that we thought we had left behind back in Cody.
The trees above the fog were frozen, and the day suddenly looked ominous.
My brain was still in summer mode, but summer was disappearing rapidly in Wyoming................
Driving across the iconic Fishing Bridge..............
15 minutes after passing over Fishing Bridge we pulled off the road and into a crowded parking area.
LC and Kory stayed with the truck while I ventured across the road and began snapping quick pictures of the large bison herd that was quietly grazing in a field.
It was the end of September and already getting cold, and I was surprised just how many tourists were still in the park....................
I only snapped a few quick pictures, enjoying the site of these wonderful creatures but also mindful that we had to get to Blackfoot.
This wasn't a Park Trip.
This was a Going Through The Park trip.
We had business to attend to.
With a few more quick pictures and one last appreciative glance back at these prehistoric throw-backs, I quickly headed back to the truck...............
15 MORE minutes and we saw cars starting to suddenly brake.
Startled, I watched as the red lights in back of one vehicle after another suddenly lit up, and I felt the truck slow down to first a crawl and then a stop.
Why were we stopped?
We had no idea.
And then we saw the first buffalo walking down the center of the two-lane highway.
Followed by another.  And then another.
And then another.................