Well, time to move on to the rest of the Lower Terraces Area and then drive closer to the Upper Terraces so the dogs don’t have to be in the car alone as long while they wait on us. We pull out the snowshoes and I slip my city boots into them. There is two feet of strap to hold in the sides and top of my foot and a single piece around my ankle. There’s the overly sized clown skis that will grip and slide over the ice and snow, and the small plastic piece that is only connected under the ball of my foot to the ski making these shoes feel like flip-flops or reverse flippers.
We start out easy enough on flat ground, walking on a road that is closed for the winter, with plenty to see keeping us at a slow pace – not that learning how to walk again won’t do that too. Most of the people we pass will have on cross-country skis and took the path to the right – all downhill. We are on a 1.4 mile loop and will be climbing up for the duration. We passed a bald eagle and some mule deer on the way into the park so I’m anxious and watchful to see a rabbit, wolf, elk, or bighorn sheep – and am constantly turning around to listen to either tiny feet scurrying or the wind blowing the snow.
We come to the Orange Spring Mound and I listen – to the crunching snow, the bubbling water, and the oohs and aahs of others. I want to touch it, to be a part of it, or bring it home. Instead I must take pictures and leave footsteps like everyone else as I know this geyser is perfectly fitted to its home like the fossa or lemur are in Madagascar. Our trudging steps feel like racing strides as we look at the green and yellow plants growing out of the windswept snow; as we pass the twisted trunks, naked branches, and evergreen trees; as the view expands revealing the buildings in the valley; and as the sound of other people becomes again more frequent.
It seems we’ve only been here a moment, but unless we rent a snowmobile and find a bed for the night, this is it for this trip. We are doomed to see the view going north – opposite of what we saw coming in – and another reason hiking is so attractive – because everything looks different and you aren’t too sure if you’re going the right way unless there are trail markers or paved roads. Along this unfortunate route we are forced to see a flawed landscape, lazy red grass, a boring mule deer with water on his chin, and stupid bighorn sheep walking across steep terrain like they belong there.
If that wasn’t torture enough, we get to drive by a dangerous elk in the road that is sticking his tongue out at us – ha ha, you have to leave and I get to stay here and stop traffic in both directions – power trip – I think so! I would’ve loved to stay within 15 feet (so much for the 75 feet distance rule) of this beautiful creäture, but in my vehicle is a squeaky dog who, at random, causes animals to run – either for food or out of fear – but I didn’t feel like finding out – even with witnesses to laugh at us and call for help, so I kept a slow passing speed.
There are plenty of hikes and tours on offer, but we had neither the time, funds, or reservations for such splendor. The view continues to amaze, and as we pass a field of horses I can’t help but think that those were cows on the way in… hmm. We are now two and a half hours away from dinner, conversation, and sleep. There is starting to be more snow on our windshield and less visibility. We stop at a small shop in Livingston to purchase new blades – third set for the front in two years and the first set for the rear.
Back on the road and I think we are making good time – even though we will be arriving after dark, but I can’t keep my eyes off the radiant, magnetic, and colorful sunset painting on all 360 degrees of its canvas for my viewing pleasure. I ask Caleb to grab the wheel while I lean out the window of the driver’s side to get a picture of what will soon be below the horizon and onto Alaska, Baja California, and the southern half of Argentina. I may have forgotten, but science (wind and gravity) did not. The sunglasses that were resting so comfortably on my head soon became a bump in the road.
I should’ve stopped sooner. I would like to think that cheap sunglasses could easily withstand the forces of a 20 foot drop (projected) flying over 70 mph – speed limit in the late 90s was “reasonable and prudent”. I figured if capturing this photo was worth losing my sunglasses over then it well better be worth it to stop and take a few pictures while safely parked on the side of the road. This isn’t the first time Caleb has taken the wheel, but it is the first, and last, time that I let property become damaged litter.
Caleb called his mom to remind her that a vegetarian was coming over and asked if we should pick up something to eat for dinner – yes. When we stopped in Columbus for gas I went inside to look for something. I found mac-n-cheese hot pockets, an egg salad sandwich, and potato salad. I also found fifty-cent IPAs and went outside to grab my wallet (husband). He figured we could wait until the Wal-Mart in Laurel to get food and the attendant behind the counter reminded me of the amazing deal on frosty Long Hammers awaiting my hand, mouth, and stomach.
As we drive away with only two I think about how we could’ve bought a six-pack for a third of the price. I don’t know if they were supposed to be outdated or mislabeled, but that beer tasted just fine to me. In Laurel we have no problem finding the shopping supercenter – it’s the second brightest spot in the city next to the oil refinery. Inside we pick up some frozen veggies and then look for the nearest pizza place. With them closed we return to the Subway inside Wal-Mart, also closed, and end up eating leftovers from the cooler.
We approach the one blinking light and turn right like Garmin suggests we do to get to Terri’s house, but when we have difficulty finding the place and give her a call she lets us know that they moved months ago to the woods of town to avoid having too many neighbors. We put that address in and it’s another twenty minutes until our arrival. The short distance to her house is the darkest, windiest, iciest, snowiest road we have encountered thus far, but the property makes it worth the drive.
There is ample parking in her driveway and we are greeted by Terri, Shooter (her black long-haired retriever), and Drago (her miniature pinscher), but not Ted because he had cans of Budweiser and shots of Red Stag for dinner and was already passed out in bed. Terri’s other dogs were very obedient and one used to fetch pennies. The big one climbs on you and the little one barks constantly – to the point of giving me a headache and making me plug my ears.
Well we can’t leave the dogs out in seventeen degree weather for long, so we bring them, food, and water into the bathroom and Drago pisses on the door. I’m used to dogs being vocal or trying to eat each other’s throats. When did they start pissing on each other? Terri misses Sparky and really wants to see him, but we won’t allow the dogs to be without a door between them. We move them from the bathroom to her office with a computer, bed frame, and hedgehog where they can sleep and be out-of-the-way.
We talk for a while and I help myself to some crackers on the table. We are gifted bread and butter pickles, homemade green apple sauce and apple butter, and some spicy pickles. I don’t remember what time it was when Terri offered us a pile of blankets and a couch for one and recliner for the other with the heads up that Shooter may be joining one of us in the middle of the night – not happening while our dogs cry in the next room. We grab the pile of blankets and ours from the car and pile them up in the bed frame – goodnight.