Shootin' the Breeze

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Archive for the tag “Laramie”

Snow Day II

Today is a snow day too, i.e., Snow Day 2.


They measured 12″ in town, but we got more.  Estes Park got 24″.  We got somewhere in between those amounts.

Our place is a mile from the highway.  Highway 287 is closed for about a 50 mile stretch, from Poudre Canyon, west of Fort Collins, to Laramie, Wyoming.  We live in between.

Miss Sugar has a doctor appointment at 3:00 p.m.  With the highway closed and all, I advised her to get an early start.  I even let her use my snowshoes.

Since she had to bundle up anyway, she might as well feed the livestock on her way out.  And take some pictures for me to share with my readership.

I’ve got my work cut out for me already.  I need to put another log on the fire.


Miss Sugar actually took the photo of these pronghorns from a window in our house today.  Click on the picture to enlarge it.  For many more images, check out her website

Be Prepared

A woman should not hitchhike alone.  It can be dangerous.

I knew that.  I hated the thought of Miss Sugar out on the highway in Wyoming’s strong November wind.

It was that wind which diminished the fuel efficiency of our Ford F250 pickup.  That and pulling the RV trailer.  I should have calculated those factors when deciding to try to make it to Laramie.

There is a 45 mile stretch with no service stations between our northern Colorado ranch and Laramie, Wyoming.  In hindsight, I regretted not filling up the truck before we left.  Sure they sell diesel less than a mile from our place, but it is cheaper to buy it in Wyoming.  Less tax.  Plus, it would be inefficient to backtrack nearly 8/10th of a mile out of our way just to fill up for peace of mind.  One must have confidence, living without fear. 

I thought we could make it, so imagine my alarm when the fuel gauge showed empty while we were still 20 miles from Laramie.

Twenty miles is too far to travel on an empty tank.  It is also too far to walk.  Fifteen, even ten miles are too far to walk.  Going there and back doubles the distance.  I doubted she could make it back before nightfall.  Not with her bum knee.

I was worried about Sugar’s bum knee.  Walking that far wouldn’t help it none.  In a bad accident last year, one of her injuries was a torn posterior cruciate ligament.  Since then, she has been unable to run.  She even walks much slower.  Nevertheless, the choice was clear as to which of us should go for fuel.  Obviously, I was needed to protect the RV.  I have a gun and she does not.

Sugar’s mother, Italian father, and two brothers might not agree with that choice, but we’d all have a good laugh about this at Thanksgiving as long as Sugar was safe.  No harm, no foul.  Right?  As long as she could get back safely….

I would hate it if anything happened to my beloved wife.  I imagined that someone would give her a ride.  Hopefully, it would be a kind soul and not some badman or badmen.   It was a risk, sure, but that diesel engine can’t run without fuel.  Surely, someone would give her a ride back too.   Even a couple gallons gets heavy after a few miles of carrying it.

Sugar would hate it if anything happened to our new used RV.  She has worked so hard to get it ready for the trip.  Some of you have read about our prior disappointments when we had to cancel our maiden voyage.  She had so looked forward to this weekend.

So, knowing she would hate it if anything happened to the RV, I vowed to protect it.  I was thankful that the RV itself has heat and a warm bed because it could take a long time for my wife to return with the fuel.  Maybe time enough for a movie since it is equipped with the DVD and TV.  It is important to be comfortable while worrying about a loved one.

I am a lucky man to be married to such a trooper.  She is quite a gal.  I made a mental note to get Sugar some Mace for the future.  Like I always say, “Be prepared.”

I love her so much that it hurts me to disappoint her.  That is why I was wise to not let her know when I noticed the fuel gauge showed empty while we still had those twenty miles to go.  I did not tell her of my worried thoughts above.  And that is why I was relieved when, miraculously, we made it to a service station in Laramie.  No harm, no foul.

What she don’t know won’t hurt her, or me.

I guess God did not like the idea of Sugar walking along the highway.  After all, she is one of his favorites.

Outlaw Hideout



We live adjacent to a 16,000 acre ranch.  (You can guess whether it is bigger or smaller than ours.  But don’t ask me.  My father taught me that it is impolite to ask someone how much they earn or what something cost.  The same applies to asking a rancher how many acres he owns or how many cows he has.  That is like asking how much money you have in the bank.)  Anyway, the ranch I am writing about has a rich history.  Just ask James Michener.  He wrote Centennial about this very area and part of the TV mini-series of long ago was filmed on this very ranch.  Oh, I know how many acres without having asked the owners, who have had it in the family for over 135 years.

Part of the Overland Trail ran from Fort Collins to Laramie, including through the ranch.  A canyon is not far off the trail.  There is a waterfall.  A part of the trail goes down a steep grade called Devil’s Slide.  At the bottom was an enterprising blacksmith whose shop was in a prime location to fix or replace broken wagon wheels.  Location.  Location.  Location.  The remains of the shop are still visible, as are hundred year old ruts left on the trail.  Not only did covered wagons bring pioneers, but the Overland Trail was a stage coach route as well. 


As a neighbor and friend, I have been permitted to ride on this adjacent ranch, so don’t think I was tresspassing.  I so appreciate being able to open one gate and ride “as far as the eye can see.” 

Well, a few years ago, I was riding in a rough area on the other side of the canyon.  There are some rock outcroppings that create overhangs under which a man on a horse could get out of the rain.  Or out of sight. 

As my horse and I traveled in this area by way of a washout, exploring what was previously unknown to me, I noticed what appeared to be a wall of sticks under a rock overhang which served as a roof.  It struck me that I had discovered a well-hidden “hideout,”  perhaps used by stage robbers or rustlers.  It had definitely been constructed by humans and was definitely intended to be out of sight and difficult to find.  It was like a cabin with a rock roof and a back wall of rock, with two sides of sticks.


It was so out of sight and so difficult to find that, although I tried to note some landmarks, and thought I could remember how I got there, I have never been able to find it again.  I have gone back on horseback, attempting to recall my route and I have gone back to hike around where I thought the hideout was.  It ain’t there.

We are left to choose between two explanations.  Either I don’t deserve the title “King of the Wild Frontier,” or the place disappeared.  Under the second theory, which is much more believable than doubting my considerable abilities, I went through a time warp and was back in time when I examined the hideout.  How can you expect me to find a time warp again?

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