I slept amazingly last night – warm and quiet in my dreams. Up at twilight and Terri is already gone, but has left us a pot of coffee. Caleb will turn our iced-coffee slushies into a room temperature drinkable beverage via a few minutes in the microwave or however long I spent in the shower. I got out and walked the dogs while he washed and noticed the beautiful coming of the sun. I grabbed my camera and took pictures while Caleb loaded the car. We left the house at 7:30 am with the other residents still in bed.
As we near the Wyoming border, thirty miles from Terri’s house, she gives us a call. She wanted to let us know that we could take some pie (so she doesn’t have to eat it all herself) and some of the items from the sweets tray that the neighbor brought over – different cookies and breads and chocolate-covered nuts. I drove through Cody and stopped in Thermopolis to get a picture of a sign – No Skateboarding on Highway. We stopped at the Boysen Reservoir to learn about the release of 43 bighorn sheep in 1995, the fires ignited by environmental managers, and the history of Wind River Canyon as it cut its way through the Owl Creek Mountains.
We didn’t stop in Utah until we reached the entrance road to Antelope Island. There is a parking lot before the entrance gate and we got out to take a look – a look at the people using the open space as target practice – who refused to shoot while I had my camera pointed at them. Not knowing where they were aiming, how far their bullets go, or if they would come falling down or ricochet off a building or nearby rock we considered it safer to get back in the car and keep on driving – once we paid our $10 state park fee – $7 for day use, $1 for wildlife management, and $2 for the causeway.
I drive us the approximate twelve miles to the Fielding Garr Ranch – the end of the road – as I look for trailheads and photogenic views. Caleb is staring contently out the window looking for the herd of 500 to 700 buffalo to all be eating or sleeping or playing together – which they may be doing, but we are having a hard time seeing them. Even so he imagines that on an island, 15 miles long by 4.5 miles wide that equals over 28,000 acres, it shouldn’t be that hard to see at least a small herd of twenty. He will have to be satisfied with the two that are spotted thanks to the car in front of us that pulled over.
We continue driving and park near another vehicle in a cleared parking lot next to a snow-covered road that in snowless conditions can get you to the trailhead – closer to the crest of the mountain that the trail follows. We get out in 22 degree, or lower, weather with the wind blowing in the shade to explore. I put my gloves on and pull my hood over my head. Going up seems easy enough as we can cram our feet into pockets of ice, rough snow, or patches of grass. The more expansive the view, the higher up I realize we are climbing, and the more slippery our return will be – and it’s just really damn cold.
Caleb thinks it will be fun to race me to the bottom and take a photo of the last one to the car. I saw it coming, but couldn’t take a picture fast enough as Caleb fell and rolled in the snow and popped back up. That split second of, “Oh, shit!” was all it took for him to get his ankles out of any danger of being twisted in ice, but he told me, when I got down there, that being knee-deep in snow only made him colder. Luckily for him we have a car with a functional heater and don’t have to trek over five miles back to the visitor center or some tent or igloo waiting for us in a field.
It will be dark soon and I have no idea where dinner or sleep will be yet, so we have to let the dogs out here to pee in a foot or more of snow. There is plenty of plant life springing forth from the snow for incentive, but the windy frozen tundra is cold enough to freeze any bladder for the next few hours. We stop at the Air Force Memorial that seems to have a heated sidewalk. I know that’s what I would want – a time convenience and fancy. We walk down to the water to check on the amount of ice versus salt. Caleb waltzes out on the ice until I tell him that I will call for help – then grab the camera to record us freezing to death.
Back on the main land and we find food less than four miles away – Thai Jasmine in Syracuse. While we wait on our bean noodles, fried rice, and garden rolls to cook we sip our extra-large Thai iced teas and talk with the owner’s daughter about the outfits her grandmother knitted. As she walks away I can’t help but want one of my own – a cute little girl who is respectful, friendly, smart, knows how to put in a good word for family products, sharing, and bilingual – and she’s not even a teenager yet. I wonder what the chances are of adopting a kid like this.
I don’t like driving at night (only while traveling because I miss the view), but having fun comes at a cost – and tonight that will be driving over two hours to get a room at the Scipio Hotel. This will be our first time in a handicap room and the only difference is the roll-in shower – and the closeness to the exit. Usually the last room available is at the top, in the center with stairs at the end, non-pet, smoking, with a small bed, and sometimes no mini-fridge or microwave – we felt spoiled tonight.
The cost of the room was $68. It’s obvious that inflation can’t stay away from things that we buy, so I can’t complain about the fact that rooms have doubled in cost in ten years. I was looking forward to getting my money’s worth out of the indoor pool and/or sauna – now the covered pool with dirty and unbubbling hot tub in a makeshift nursery with painting crafts in one corner and some bikes against the back wall. The sauna was turned into a storage unit for maintenance and painting supplies. I will just have to settle for the bird towel on my dresser with his black felt eyes – what a conversation we had.