I am a woman searching for my inner goddess and using fabrics, words and photography as my road map. I find great comfort and order in my creative efforts and hope that in sharing them you find a peace also. Welcome and Be Blessed!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

On the Road Again Again

We are on the last leg of our road trip to Idaho. After a short night at Super 8 we woke with great anticipation and cant get going quickly enough. We are in Wyoming and as the road spreads on in front of us the view is changing. The hills are mounts and ridges overlooking deep cut gorges. At a glance the ground looks gentle and rolling (We just past on of my favorite markers along this voyage “ Crazy Woman Creek”- always makes me wonder about the story behind the name) When you begin to look with an eye toward taking a quad out in these open fields you begin to realize the severity of the land. Time has forever etched itself deeply into this Wyoming land.

We pass ancient attempts at a farming life. The wooden fence, perhaps parts of a windmill minus a blade or two, so no spinning, no water, no life near. Only stones left to remind you that there was a farmhouse or perhaps a barn and maybe a couple stunted little trees bending even with no present winds. I wonder what became of the wild-eyed couple who dreamt that ultimate dream of life with/against nature? And what have these old trees seen in the years they have fought to exist? And speaking of trees just after crossing the Wyoming border we saw a whole mountainside being devoured by fire. I think that it was just past the town of Sturgis and there were cars lining the roads to watch the planes and helicopters. The sheriffs had all roads headed up the mountain closed off. While this was not a huge fire by out west standards, it was not under control yet. We wondered how they were loading up the planes and if they were using water or flame retardant. We didn’t stop to watch but were fascinated anyway. It was a reminder that we need to clear out a good many trees around our ranch house on this trip because they are just too close to the house. I cannot imagine the thrill of being a fire jumper. We will be passing the fire jumper school in Missoula Montana later today. I am in awe of those willing so readily to risk their lives. I always say an extra prayer for them and their safety as we pass.

I am traveling with 2 hunters, my hubby Vern and his brother Gail. That should tell you lots right there but let me expound. All through Wyoming we are looking at pronghorns/ antelope. Gilette Wyoming is known as the Antelope capital of the world I learn again this trip. It is pretty much non-stop hunting stories through this state and into the next. If they were good enough to live through you have rights to tell them at any time no matter who has heard them before.

They are also ole Coal miners so when we go through Gilette Wyoming we slow down a bit to count the trains that are loaded and to see how deep the mines are and where they are now mining. It is amazing to me just how quickly and easily they can mine the coal here. We saw 5 loaded trains on this pass through. It takes us at least 2 weeks to do a train of equal size. Vern told me that the coal here is only worth about $7 a ton whereas at home our coal is in the upper $40. Coal here is low in sulfur (good), but high in mercury and chlorine (bad) and is low in BTU’s which is the heat and that makes it much less valuable

We travel I 90 from Chicago west. Mostly it is good road. Wisconsin is a really smooth ride and they have incredible big lush farms- they raise lots of dairy cows in this state. Minnesota is the next state and their roads are much like traveling down the railroad tracks at high speed-ka-thunk-ka-thunk. There is a really pretty spot just as you cross borders from Wis to Minn. You cross over a bridge and think how small the Mississippi River is up here and then you swing hard right with a steep hillside on your left- on your right is a lock that drops the water only 2 to 3 feet and then woohoo the river gets Big River wide there.

Wyoming and Montana are the finger pointing states-“look at that- its gotta be a muley”, “look over there”, “ I think that one has horns”, “ did ya just see that flock of turkeys? Had to be 15 in it” We are now in Montana driving through the Crow Indian Reservation. I have only seen one crow- he was flying pretty fast so maybe he had a breakfast reservation somewhere-who knows.

Cows are raised totally different out here in Wyoming and S. Dakota. Ranches here consist of hundreds of acres. Some of it is farmed-usually just used for hay and for grazing cows. The cows are put out to pasture in the spring and left to fend for themselves till the roundup in the fall- just in time to make the MickeyD’s menu no doubt. I would bet some cows don’t see another cow till then- solitary cows silhouetted again the big sky- unherd of in W. PA for sure- our cows do everything gang style. South Dakota is of a nuisance state for us. It is big and just pretty darned annoying . It does house a wonderful Cabela’s at Mitchell though. A person can sure leave a lot of money in that store if they so desire. I think that it should be mandatory for every person to go to a Cabela’s in their lifetime. No where will most people ever get this close to such amazing and beautiful yet terrifying animals in real life size and drama. It gives one a moments hesitation when you head out to the outhouse first thing in the am.

Montana is over 500 miles across. It is a pretty state and has many more trees than Wyoming. The mountains are higher and everything is so green and lush right now. Fires are a real problem here also. I am beginning to see forms of civilization. We are near the Little Bighorn Battlefield. There are some teepees and bronze statues set out in front of the museum- they are rich looking and very out of place in this area. The Crow people appear to live a poor existence. Very small shoebox houses or dumpy old singlewide moble homes, paint peeling, clothes on the line and broken down cars and pickup trucks in most yards. It is not much different then driving through some sections of W. Virginia. Crest toothpaste has a billboard here featuring smiling faces of some Crow children. “ Behind every smile here is Crest” It is dated 1998. I wonder if these people are still smiling today or have they decided that life as a Crow is just too hard to smile about???

I had to take a break and sleep and then drive but we are now about 150 miles from the ranch and we have turned off of I 90 and are now on 200 which will take us on into Sandpoint Idaho. We discovered this shortcut and love it. It takes us through some really great scenic areas of Montana. It also takes us through the Flathead Indian Reservation. When Lewis and Clark first discovered these people they would have boards tied to their foreheads to make them flat. “ Hey there Joe, you are looking a little board today!” Ha We have yet to meet any flatheads so I don’t know if they still carry on that tradition but I think that they are much more affluent then the Crow Indians. They have bigger houses, more farm land and they irrigate their land for better crops. They have a much more beautiful view of the world also and that just cant hurt one bit. They do have harsher winters though. Soon we will be following the Clark Fork River as it meanders back and forth on both sides of the road. It is generally about 20 0 30 feet wide though can get wider or bottleneck down. It tends to move slowly but I would bet some days it roars through its banks. We would love to float the river for 2 or 3 days and camp on the banks at night.. There are small islands every once and again. I think I would want to stay there- bears can swim I know but perhaps they will be less likely to come out there for me- remember I have been to Cabelas and I know that my head will fit in a Grizzly mouth no problem.

Soon we will be coming into an area that has signs warning of Big Horn Sheep crossings. How cool is that. We have not seen one yet there but we are always on the lookout. That tells ya that the mountains are getting higher and steeper. This is also the beginning of elk country. I look over at the towering slopes and see trails etched in the side. No man could make those- just something four legged and sure footed. The sun is setting on another day of travel and only the peaks are highlighted, they almost glisten with the sunlight. The air is cooling down quickly and evening is coming to the mountains and I am blessed to be able to share in this evening reverie. How blessed I am.

I was just ready to tuck this away for the evening when we needed to stop along the side of the river and clean off our windows. We took the opportunity to just walk to the river bank and I won the prize cause I spotted the black bear on the other side of the river just wandering around looking for whatever. The hunters put the glasses on it and decided it went about 400 pounds with really long legged. No cub following it around so its most likely a bore. Yep an island is the way to go when we go floating down this here river, and we did note that the water is moving much more swiftly then it looks from a car window.

We just passed a tiny little cafĂ© in Paradise Montana. It claims to be the home of the “Big Hurt” a 46 oz sirloin steak. Oh baby that would hurt.

We just got to the Big Horn Sheep spot and saw a dust cloud up ahead of our car lights- suddenly there were 5 big horn sheep in the road just in front of us- fortunately they didn’t freeze in the lights but went for the higher road bank –whew that was close. More from Idaho later. I will try photos tomorrow-the server is having problems sending out the smoke signals tonight- no breeze or something.

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I believe that things can always be cured with a hug and a cup of tea, fixed with either a needle and thread, duct tape, WD40 or coke, and that prayer works every time. I take in strays whether in animal or childlike form. I have been mother to many for a time and this is my way of keeping up with some of those straying children that I miss. I appreciate shock value and use it often to remind people that the world is round and colorful and we are not all living in square brown cardboard boxes with little holes cut in for windows. Look for the warm fuzzies- God delivers them up fresh every day just to say- I think you are pretty darned special- so special that I have your picture up on my fridge for life and I am sending you a hug to remind you that you matter to me.

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