Leaving Coeur d’Alene marked the turning point in our summer tour, literally; from there we headed east into Montana… with brief stops in Missoula, Butte, Bozeman and West Yellowstone. We would have liked to have spent more time in Montana, but this summer’s trip was much abbreviated from previous summers. This photo taken along a stretch of white water on the Gallatin River typifies southeast Montana – the scenery is spectacular.
Our next stop was Pinedale, Wyoming, to visit our friends Gina and Bob. Gina is an old friend of Suzanne’s mom, Ruthie. Bob has been a cowboy since leaving the Army and family in Boston about 60 years ago. He is now 81, and still rides his horse every day. He and Gina help in the annual roundup in Pinedale and drive cattle to their summer pasture in the mountains. That “help” pays for their horses’ hay for the year. They also volunteer to bring hay up daily in the winter to herds of elk; imagine moving tons of hay with snowmobiles and trailers in 30 below zero weather…
Pinedale is another one of our “Favorite Places”. The town of Pinedale is “located at the base of the Wind River Mountains with unspoiled rivers, wildlife, and all the civilization you need”, according to the Chamber of Commerce. The people are very friendly, the scenery unsurpassed, and life moves along at a gentle pace. An example of the scenery is seen here – we hiked along the Sacred Rim Trail, with the “Winds” in the background…
Part of the backdrop here, two days hike in, is Titcomb Basin, where I backpacked on a 4 day trip a couple of years ago. 16 miles from the trailhead, it is my most favorite place on earth…. you don’t see many people here, do you?
Another day was spent on tranquil Half Moon Lake near Pinedale. Unlike our paddle on the Great Salt Lake, there were no brine flies here!
Pinedale sits at 7,100 feet, but the mountains in the background rise to 13,810 feet (including Gannet Peak, Wyoming’s tallest). They are popular among serious rock climbers and mountaineers, as well as backpackers. Grizzly bears are common there, as are wolves, elk and moose.
Speaking of moose, this was the view from Suzanne’s car when driving back from Gina and Bob’s home after a webinar… right at dusk, the cow was leading her calf from the river up across the road into higher ground. The cow crossed, but sensing that her calf was trailing too far behind, she recrossed the road and got her youngster moving.
Next stop was Casper, Wyoming. While on a bike ride along the North Platte River, I stopped to view the Sun Up Ridge Memorial Wall, a tribute to all those Montanans killed on active duty in the service of our nation. It is a very long list. Two quotations accompany the memorial. The first: “These endured all and gave all that honor and justice might prevail and that the world might enjoy freedom and inherit peace.” The second, by General George S. Patton, US Army: “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.”
While Suzanne was doing a webinar, I visited the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center, run by the National park Service. It is a splendid museum/interpretive center. Imagine being one of the the pioneers who mostly walked alongside the covered wagons for five months from St Louis to Oregon or who pulled hand carts across the prairie and mountains to Salt Lake. The second photo is an interactive hand cart… you stand on a treadmill and “pull” the cart behind you… even lightly loaded, it was very hard work pulling the cart at a very slow speed! It gave me a new appreciation for those tough, brave pioneers – men, women and children alike.
There were also exhibits honoring the Pony Express riders; the advertisement “Wanted: young, skinny, wiry fellows, not over eighteen. Must be expert riders, willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred. Wages $25 per week.”
On the home front, our little Nellie is now almost 10 months old. She is finally housebroken, and actually starting to mature so that she isn’t always nipping at Rudy’s nose and hip thrusting him… but she’s still saucy. Here she is in a quiet moment grabbing twenty winks while resting up against Dog Dad’s leg… I had jokingly referred to her as Nellie the Naughty, but MLB chastised me, saying that using that moniker would guarantee that behavior… so we now refer to her as “Nellie the Wonderful”.
Rudy continues to do well. Almost 16 years old, grey around the muzzle, Rudy takes 8 meds a day, sleeps a lot, and walks stiffly because of arthritis. But Nellie is keeping him active… poor Rudy… or is it “Lucky Rudy???”