Tuesday, June 11, 2019

War Dog

Memorial Day weekend Cody dedicated a new statue in Veterans Park.
The statue is named War Dog.
The dedication was on a Saturday and hoping to catch the last hour of the dedication ceremony (that included speeches from dignitaries, patriotic music, the statue unveiling and then food) I scheduled the store to close early at 1pm.
With people still milling around and shopping, it turned out that I did not make it up to the park until 1:30.
By then the ceremonies were in full swing, and I had to park across the highway from the park.
No matter.
Glad to have finally made the ceremony I walked up the brick lined foot path, scanning the group in search of LC........................
Memorial Day Weekend in Tennessee was always a very big deal.
As the Aquatics Director for a Parks and Recreation Department it was always the culmination of three months of non-stop work, getting the outdoor pool ready for the summer.
The logistics of cleaning both the big pool and the wading pool, and the endless expanse of concrete deck.  Getting the pool filled, chemically balanced, mechanically up and running smoothly.
The hiring, training and scheduling of guards.
The marketing, and all the other logistics involved in what would always be a very hectic and always busy summer.
By Memorial Day it was good to go.
I always took Opening Day off work - confident that the physical plant and the staff I had nurtured for months were ready.
Accessible by phone if they weren't.
And as I inevitably mountain biked on trails out at the military base that was my favorite place to both bike and run (and across the road - paddle), the temperature was always blast furnace hot.
It was Tennessee.
It was always hot in Tennessee by Memorial Day.........................
Once I reached LC (who was standing at the back of the crowd), I gently touched him on the shoulder.
Momentarily startled he turned to see who had touched him and then smiled at me in recognition.
Standing beside him I focused on everything around me, trying to catch up on the ceremonies, and was immediately freezing cold.
It had been raining all morning but was now simply a misty, overcast, grey and very cold day.
God it was cold.
I shivered, trying to ignore the fact that I wasn't dressed well enough against the cold........................
Cedar Mountain on the left.
Rattlesnake Mountain on the right.
Jims Mountain through the gap........................
For the next 30 minutes I listened to speeches.
When it was time to finally unveil the statue I heard the applause but couldn't see the statue from where we were standing.
We were too far back.
There were too many people in front
Somebody else began to talk, but by then I was so cold that I didn't even care who it was or what they were saying.
When the speeches were finally done everyone in attendance was invited to move towards the statue and see it in more detail.
Determined to trooper on I began to head that way, but LC grabbed me by the arm.
This time it was MY turn to be startled and I turned to look at him.
"Let's go to Grannies and get some coffee".
"Don't you want to see the statue?"
"We'll see it another time.  I'm freezing".
"Me too.  I'll meet you down there"......................
So after standing in the freezing cold listening to boring speeches in the back of a crowd, we didn't even get to see the statue.
Or eat the food.
Or even visit the many other wonderful statues and memorials that fill Veterans Park.
Instead, we went to Grannies Restaurant, drank coffee and ate apple pie.  
With ice cream.
And that was OK.
We'll visit the park again soon.
When it is sunny and warm and when we have the entire place to ourselves.
A Cody Enterprise picture of War Dog and his handler.
We like it.........................

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Is Summer Here Yet? Maybe. Maybe Not.

Right now it is 78 degrees, the sun is shining outside, and I am sitting wearing a t-shirt and shorts.
The white legs are a little startling.
These pictures were taken two weeks ago.
It snowed on this day, but the week before and the week after saw non-stop rain in Cody.
I knew that it could snow any day of the year here.
I didn't know that it could rain for two straight weeks, and yet here we are.
The snow was unexpected and beautiful in late May but it was gone by the end of that same day.
Still in pajamas and wearing a heavy coat first thing in the morning, I wandered around the yard with my still-sleepy dog, enjoying the sight of the unexpected.
Snow is always welcome to this Norwegian-English-Australian-Canadian-American woman.
We purchased the little wooden bear while living in Idaho, he sits in the gravel at the bottom of the front steps of the house and I love him.
The wagon sits in the side yard of the house across the road from us..................
My kayaks.
Waiting patiently - waiting to get out on the lake...............
We had this giant horse on the side of our house over in Idaho.
He has a broke hoof but we kept him anyway.
Maybe we will just mount him as-is and ignore the broken leg.
Or maybe we'll use him as a template and just make another.
Not sure yet, but I'm glad we kept him and eventually we'll do something with him...................
These are my water shoes.
I carelessly threw them onto the back deck after our brief trip on the water a few weeks earlier, and quickly forgot about them.
I'm sure at some point they dried out, but on this day they were covered in snow......................
A week later the snow was long gone, it was almost June, and I was becoming increasingly restless.
I don't mind long winters in Wyoming.
And I don't mind short summers in Wyoming.
But by this time it was almost June and it was SUPPOSED to be consistently warm by now.
After making a brief stop in Clark (an isolated community of homes about 30 miles from Cody) to pick up a patio set of wrought iron and ceramic table and chairs, we stopped on the way home at Newton Lakes.
Newton Lakes are located only a few miles outside of Cody.
Two small bodies of water, a few short hiking trails, known for both rattlesnakes and grizzly bears at certain times of year, but also widely used by locals who want to fish, paddle, and generally enjoy the outdoors.
This was the first time we had stopped here since our return to Cody back in the fall of 2017 and on this beautiful day I was very glad to be out.................
The nose of Heart Mountain barely visible beyond the hills, and still covered in snow......................
There were a handful of vehicles in the parking lot and as I looked around us, trying to get the lay of the land I saw a few fishermen floating in the water.
The lakes were small enough that motors were not permitted, so their small boats and rafts were all fitted with oars.
One young family had a couple of dogs with them, and Kory was instantly attracted to them.
She loves everyone and everything.
People.  Animals.
She wants to be friends with them all, and hesitantly made her way over to the labs, wanting to say hello.
Within a minute the ice was broken and they all ran and played for a few minutes before Kory broke it off to head into the lake and cool down.................
Our visit was short but it was also very good.
I had forgotten how beautiful it was there. 
I had forgotten how quiet it was there.
This trip reminded me.  Us.  Me.
We'll be back.
My brain tells me that summer has finally arrived.
But this Saturday it is supposed to rain and be 58 degrees.
So maybe not quite yet........................ 

When I was a child I wanted to raise horses in Wyoming or be a cabin boy on a pirate ship....................Sadie Jones
When I was a child, I wanted to raise horses in Wyoming or be a cabin boy on a pirate ship.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/wyoming

Friday, May 17, 2019

Leaning Against The Door

This picture was taken 26 years ago in Australia.
It is a picture of my younger sister Susan, with her husband and two children.
A year later she died from breast cancer.
She was 28 years old..............

I spoke to her a few weeks before she died.
By that time it had spread to both her spine and her brain, and when I talked to her she was difficult to understand.
I sensed during that call that it may be the last time I would ever speak to her and it was.
Two weeks later I received the phone call that she had died.............

After I hung up the phone my oldest son Sean - who was all of nine years old at the time - asked me what was wrong, and I told him.
He hugged me.
And told me that it was OK to cry.
I hugged him back, told him that I knew it was OK to cry, and I WOULD when I was ready.
And then I went and cleaned out the hall closet.
It was three months before I could cry for my sister.
19 years later Sean died from an enlarged heart.
He was 28 years old..................

Sometimes I feel like I am leaning against a closed door.
Desperately trying to hold the demons back.
So far.
So good...........................

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Boat On The Water

Between moving our stuff over to Wyoming in stages, hunting for a home to buy that we could afford, buying a house, and opening a business, we didn't make it out on the boat last summer.
I kayaked quite a bit and was thrilled to be on the water again, but our boat sat idle (first in Idaho, and then in front of our rental house, and then in front of the house we bought) all last year.
On a very sunny and surprisingly warm day last Sunday we decided that we would take the boat out on Buffalo Bill Reservoir.
Only.............the lake is VERY low right now, in anticipation of a huge snow-melt that is just beginning, so the boat ramps out the South Fork were out of the question.
They were out of commission, and would remain so until sometime next month.
With that knowledge we decided that we would drag our boat over to the North Fork and see if we could put in there.
By the time we stopped for breakfast and reached the first boat ramp out the NF, LC and I were slowly coming to the realization that maybe we WOULDN'T be boating on this day after all.
The first (and the second) ramp were completely surrounded by lake bottom.
Heading around to the opposite side of the lake we slowly drove our Suburban and boat down a rutted out and bone dry dirt road.
Although we were now taking the scenic route, we were actually heading back in the direction of the South Fork and home.
There were a few boat ramps along the way and we had full confidence - OK, increasingly shaky confidence - that we would find a place to launch the boat.
One was dry.  Another was close to the river and with only a trolling motor we had little confidence that we could fight the current on the way back.
Finally we pulled into a public access area that we had never stopped at before.
It was time to wander, stretch legs, let our puppy run......................
Releasing Kory from the bondage of the Suburban, LC and I looked around us, trying to get the lay of the land.
We were surrounded by mountains as always.
And as always, we were immediately enthralled with this place.
For the hundredth time - thousandth time -  we looked over at each other and smiled.
"We LIVE here".
Yes.
We do..........................
We thought that maybe there was a place here where we might be able to launch the boat, but there was not.
The area where we had parked the vehicle and boat would all be under water in another month or so.
But on this day the ground was bone dry, and there was only steep, rocky drop-off between us and the water.
By this time launching the boat was becoming less of a priority though.
We were all happy to walk on a very beautiful and quiet Sunday early afternoon.
And the wind was beginning to pick up........................
By the time we loaded back into the vehicle both LC and I were resigned to the fact that we were not going to be on the water on this day.
We were close to the turnoff that would take us back to the house.
It was windy.
And although it was almost mid-May, spring had been very cold and wet in Cody, WY and summer was coming late this year.
It had felt like an early summer day only a few hours earlier, but now if felt cool.
The moment had passed.
With the intention of heading back to the house (and with new-found jokes about "taking our boat for a drive around the lake") we pulled back onto the rutted out dirt road and continued towards the house................

20 minutes later LC surprisingly pulled into this place.
There was no boat ramp.
But the water was deeper here in this little cove and the area was protected from the wind.
He thought we could launch here.
Looking over at him with skepticism, I looked out at the water and thought "what the heck - let's give it a shot".
After driving around the entire perimeter of Buffalo Bill Reservoir, we were finally going to launch our boat.
Two miles from the house.................

Kory not impressed with wearing a life jacket...................
Looking down at what is known locally at "The Thoroughfare" - heading further down the South Fork.
We had spent all winter walking the dike and looking off in this direction, but I hadn't seen it from the water since my kayaking time last summer.
It felt good to be on the water again...................
Kory stood looking forlorn from the front of the boat, for the entire duration of our excursion on the water.
She is not sure about the life jacket.  Not sure about the rocking of the boat.  Not sure about her inability to be able to run on solid ground.
We had boated with her before but not often.
I hope (now that we live so close to water) that she will be able to do this more, and will learn to love it...................
Boats in the harbor are safe but that is not what they are meant for..............Zig Ziglar

Monday, May 6, 2019

Soon Playing Tourst

 April was a very busy month.
Major changes to my small business - that pretty much cratered through the winter (as most businesses do in Cody during those silent and cold months), and  that ate up both a lot of time and a lot of energy.
 April was also dominated by weather that alternated between regular rain and regular snow.
Every once in a while LC's social media accounts pull up pictures that I have posted on his pages over the past few years.
The other day I took a second look at pictures that I had posted at the same time last year.
Last year spring was very sunny, very dry and very warm.
Such a difference a year makes.
We ate brunch on a Sunday morning at the historic Irma Hotel a few weeks ago, and then took a walk along Sheridan Ave, which is the main tourist strip in Cody.
The park (Yellowstone National Park) opened last week, and already Sheridan Ave looks completely different.
Flags and banners and colorful signs and cars parked along both sides of the road and endless traffic moving from one end of the strip to the other.
Even this early into tourist season the in-town campgrounds are partially full.
But on THIS day - just a few weeks ago - the park was closed, it was cold and drizzling rain, most of the stores were still closed for the season, and the world was still very quiet.
The quiet before the storm...................

There are two distinct parts to the Cody Courthouse.
In back is the new addition - a nice looking stone and glass building, with carpeted floors and local artwork.
 The original Court House was built very early in the last century.
Inside the old section are marble floors, deep wood doors and trim, high ceilings and a feeling of going back in time.
The two - the old and new portions of the one Cody Courthouse - blend seamlessly together.
It is a beautiful building resting in a park like setting of grass and pines.................
 We've never made it into this small museum (mostly because it seems to only be open during inconvenient hours).
We'll try to make a point of exploring inside one day this summer.................
 This painting is iconic and typical-Wyoming.
Located across the street from the Irma Hotel..................
 LC has coveted this Mountain Man statue ever since we first saw it, not long after moving back to Cody.
It is about 2 feet high.  Maybe more.  Very detailed.  And priced at just over $2000.
Unless we win the lottery he will have to keep enjoying it through a store front window........................
 Looking down the length of Sheridan Avenue.
Buried in the fog and mist is Rattlesnake Mountain.
One of the very first things that struck both LC and me the very first time we turned onto Sheridan way back in 2011 was how wide the street looked.
It doesn't just LOOK wide.  It IS wide.
One lane of parking on each side, two lanes of traffic each way, and a center turn lane the entire length of the street.
We learned just recently that that was by design, by Bill Cody during the original planning of the town.
Cody wanted the main street in his name-sake-town to be wide enough to turn a horse drawn wagon (without having to go around the block).
Sheridan won't look this empty again until late September now...............
 Just a random truck that LC liked while we were all walking.................
 I don't know if this art studio is awesome or not, but I sure liked their sign...............
 Sheridan Ave is filled with all the tourist businesses you would expect in a town located only 50 miles from the East Gate of YNP.
Fishing, sporting goods, t-shirts and jewelry, boots and cowboy hats, rustic art and rustic furniture, fast food and sit-down restaurants, art galleries, and more.
Locals (and I suppose that would include us now) avoid Sheridan Ave during the summer, like the plague.
I don't blame them.
It's crazy busy during those months.
But every once in a while it can be fun to "play tourist" - to visit the businesses that you don't normally visit the rest of the year.  
To see the art, eat the ice cream, listen to the music.  
To people watch.  
To take your time and get into the rhythm of those who are seeing our town perhaps for the very first time.
When you view Cody through THEIR eyes, it is like seeing the town again ourselves.
For the very first time....................
 You've always been a tourist here. You just didn't know it............Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner