by Neva Bodin
My brother-in-law has a license plate holder that says, “My Happy Place is in the Mountains.” And he spends time at his happy place with our family each summer, this year for the eighth year. At times we’ve had 16 family members present. This year there were only nine of us and three campers.
Yellow, black and rust-colored butterflies escorted us at times. A heady, sweet fragrance reminiscent of honeysuckle permeated the air. A carpet of bright yellow and brilliant white, with swirls of various hues including purple, blue and pink spread out before us. We were over 9000 feet in altitude and rising. The purest blue sky cradled white cotton-ball clouds above us. We were on a four-wheeling trail ride on our annual family camping trip.
Our son-in-law who lives in Wyoming between the Rockies and the Bighorn Mountains is our trip planner. He has hunted and played in those mountains since he was young, a tradition he now carries on with his two children.
The peace and freedom felt on those mountain tops is unique. The lack of cell phone and internet services is freeing. The amount of cooking and eating we do is stupendous.
Our four-wheeling trips that last 4-6 hours include a picnic lunch of sandwiches, fruit, chips, cookies and soft drinks, and now coffee with my son-in-law’s new butane coffee maker for campers! It is delicious.
Back at camp we have T-bone steak grilled over the campfire, with grilled potatoes that include lots of onion and butter, all wrapped in aluminum foil and tender and tasty, smoked ribs, baked beans, home-made caramel rolls, bars, cookies and salads. We also had smoked roast, S’mores and the usual brats, wieners and hamburgers. This year we had chicken pasta primavera one night. It is most definitely a “mountain top experience.”
We saw lots of pronghorn antelope and their babies, white tail deer does and fawns, a huge bull moose, mountain sheep and babies (through a spotting scope), and some in our party saw elk and bear. Rock Chucks, ground squirrels, called Picket Pins by locals, a Martin, squirrels, chipmunks, Jack Rabbits and a variety of birds popped into our sights. The Mountain bluebirds are like blue jewels with wings that contrast sharply with the landscape colors.
We visited Kirwin, WY, a now-ghost mining town where Amelia Earhart was having a cabin built when she disappeared on her famous airplane flight. We visited the Double D dude ranch where she stayed and had friends. All now silent and all but abandoned save for the Forest Service and sight-seers.
We heard the story of a very interesting “house of ill repute” that was apparently a “mountain top experience” also. And learned where the highest placed oil well in the United States was drilled. Watch for these stories in future blogs.
And as we soaked up the scent of pine and fresh mountain air, as well as the ice-cold mountain shower that dumped on us during one four-wheeling trip, we wondered about the trappers, miners, and their women and children, who lived in log cabins, rode the stage coach trail near our campsite, and had the courage and fortitude to exist in this beautiful, bountiful, yet rugged land. It’s a place set apart from our high tech world in many ways.
I am always disappointed when an empty pop can, candy wrapper or beer bottle jars my effusive adoration of the mountains. How can someone be so callous as to mar this rugged landscape where nature still rules with a heavy hand?
Aside from that, we had another glorious time of admiring nature, staring into a campfire, and bonding with family. And eating, did I mention that we ate well?
I will segue into a couple more stories related to this trip in future blogs. Stay tuned.