Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

Archive for the tag “Wyoming”

Cheyenne Social Club

The Single Action Shooting Society, SASS, puts on events, including one in Cheyenne, Wyoming known as Hell on Wheels.  They set up targets in Old West themes like saloons and stage coaches and such.  The competitors dress up in western outfits like from the 1880s.

The firearms are also from that era or replicas.  The competitors use a rifle, pistol and shotgun.  They go through staging areas that require use of each on several targets.  Winners are determined by points for targets hit and time taken.

Judging by appearance, most of the SASS folks look to be retirement age but there are a few young folks such as myself and Miss Sugar.

Check it out.  If you like playing cowboy, you might have some fun.

Home  As you can see, their logo is an accurate depiction of me.  KarenAndAlAtCrossCreekRanch

Soaking in the Fountain of Youth

Ponce de Leon, in his quest to find the legendary fountain of youth, by all reports did not make it to Wyoming.  Unlike him, I have been to Wyoming, the location of the fountain of youth.  Is it just a coincidence that Mr. de Leon is dead and I am alive and kicking?  I think he might still be around if he had visited Wyoming instead of Florida, or wherever he looked for the elusive fountain of youth.

It is not often that I am the youngest person present at a gathering of the general public, but at the Saratoga Springs, Wyoming hot springs known as Hobo Pool, I was.

As I entered the hot pool area, there were two older men with Santa-like beards, both in length and whiteness.  Maybe that is why it is called Hobo Pool.  They looked the part.

Shortly after I lowered my lithe, youthful body into the supposedly healing waters, three more men, one bald and two white-haired ones, joined us at the pool.  They all knew each other.  I was the odd man out.  Eventually, however, I made friends with them.

One got out of the pocket of his robe a thermometer and pronounced that the temperature of the pool was 107.9 degrees, which is a good conversation starter.  I learned that that they all come almost every day.  I learned about the underground hot springs piped into the pool.  I learned about the history of the Indians discovering it near the North Platte River.  I learned about the source of the name, Hobo Pool, due to the railroad tracks going by, and hobos being aware of the free spa experience in that bend of the river.  I learned that these hot natural springs full of minerals and smelling of sulfur seemed to offer health benefits.   My bald friend said that he moved to Saratoga eleven years ago and used the pool every day.  He said he had not been ill since, whereas previously he had often been sick.  It sounded like the biblical Pool of Bethesda. or the pool at Lourdes.

I then witnessed proof of the healing power of the pool.  None of the men were wearing glasses, yet when Miss Sugar appeared,  they all gave every indication that their vision was clear.

You see, Miss Sugar had forgotten to pack her swimsuit, unlike me.  After I paid the admission fee for myself, Miss Sugar explained her predicament to the gatekeeper.  He actually waived the admission fee for her and allowed her in for free, which offended my sense of fairness.  “Hey, Sugar,” I said, “can’t you read?”  “The sign says no nude bathing.”

My new friends turned on me.  To a man, they vehemently declared that they did not mind and voted to waive the rule.  Rules are made to be broken, according to them.

I, an attorney, disagreed.  I strongly felt that she should have paid the fee like the rest of us, so I paid the guy.

What was Miss Sugar trying to pull?  A fee is a fee.

P.S.  Most of what I write about is totally true.  Miss Sugar has asked me to confess that the part I wrote about her, above, is not exactly accurate.  The part about her forgetting her suit is true.  The part about her coming to the pool anyway is not true.  I was just funnin’ about.  But, seriously, did you just want to read about me and five other old guys sitting in a hot springs pool?

P.P.S.  There is no admission fee.  It is open every hour of every day for free.  Check it out.

P.P.P.S.  There IS a sign that says, “No alcohol.  No profanity.  No nude swimming.”  That about covers it.  So, don’t forget your swimsuit, forget the booze though, and watch your mouth.

“Where Seldom Is Heard A Discouraging Word”

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In recent posts, I have written about here at home, where the buffalo roam, and the deer and the antelope play.

I think it is mostly true that, out here, on the range, “seldom is heard a discouraging word.”

Of course, I am biased, but my experience with folks out here, especially ranchers, is that complaints are usually jokes about problems that are expected, such as the changes in weather.  Most appreciate the silver linings in dark clouds.

“How much snow did you get at your place?  The pastures can sure use the moisture!”

Even the dreaded high winds roaring across the plains have some positive benefits.  In Wyoming, they often say of their famous wind, “IT KEEPS THE WIMPS OUT.”

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Wimps might have a discouraging word about moving cattle during a snow storm.  For cowboys, it is just another day at the office.

Home on the range — love it or leave it.

To the Rescue

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Sadie lost two friends in 18 days, Max and Rover, her only two friends.  Those of you who follow this blog have read about our losses in Passing of the Ball and Sad Times at Cross Creek Ranch.  Sugar and I have been in mourning.  Sadie has taken it just as hard, probably harder because she spent all her time with them so her world changed drastically.

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It was sad to watch Sadie stare out the window, waiting for their return.  She also slept much more, as if to escape her pain.  She was needy, following us from room to room, never wanting to be alone.

After Max died, for a few days, she perked up when she heard one or the other of us drive up the lane.  She watched the vehicle as if expecting Max to return.  Of course, she was disappointed every time because Max did not return.

After Rover died, she did not seem to expect his return.  She seemed to know that he was dead.  She had sniffed the bed of the pickup truck before I washed out his blood from transporting Rover from the road to his grave.  Also, even though Sadie was not allowed outside as I dug the hole and placed Rover in it, then covering him up, she nevertheless sniffed his grave.  She knew.  She was obviously overwhelmed with sadness.  Her friends were gone and she was lost in her own home.

When a friend sent us a link to the Humane Society website, she pointed out a dog named Max who was up for adoption.  She wrote, “Another Max needs you.”  We really did not take well to her suggestion.  We did not want another Max.  We missed our Max, who could not be replaced.  Our friend did not intend to offend, but we were not in the mood to appreciate the suggestion.  It seemed disrespectful to our beloved Max.

So on Wednesday, we went to the Cheyenne Animal Shelter and adopted Beau, another male Yellow Lab.  What changed our minds, if not our feelings?

Why?  We did it for Sadie.  When Sugar was young(er), she had two dogs who grew up together.  When one had to be euthanized due to an incurable condition, the surviving dog was depressed, stopped eating, and had to then be euthanized as well.  Sugar saw Sadie’s inconsolable depression and worried about history repeating itself.

We decided that getting a new puppy was not the solution.   Sugar looked for a mature Labrador to befriend Sadie, who is a Lab, specifically, and more importantly to her, a Yellow Lab  We had noticed at dog parks and doggy day care that Sadie is a racist.  She is prejudiced against non-Labradors, preferring the company of other Labs.  Also, if given a choice, she is biased in favor of Yellow Labs more so than Black or Chocolate versions of the breed.  Of course, Rover won her over by his obliviousness to her Yellow Supremacist attitude and by pure joyousness.  She decided Rover was okay to play with, maybe overcome by his gift of enthusiasm.  She even lowered herself to sleeping with him.  They clearly made friends.  That friendship probably helped each of them cope together with the loss of Max.  They still had each other … for a mere eighteen days.

Beau is a two-year-old Yellow Lab.  Last Saturday, we took Sadie up to Cheyenne with us so that they could meet under supervision at the animal shelter.  He was very glad to meet her but was rather clumsy about it, totally lacking in the cool reserve that females find alluring.  Nevertheless, Sadie tolerated the nerdy approach and the powers that be called it a good match since neither displayed aggressive behavior.

Why then, did we not take Beau home with us that day?  The sad answer is that he was not available for adoption until he was neutered.  So he suffered castration on Tuesday and we picked him up on Wednesday.

He has been very sweet, shy actually, seemingly eager to please.  He is having a difficult recuperation from his surgery.  Out of concern, Sugar took him to a vet to check on his condition.

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He had to wear a plastic cone to keep him from messing with, well, you know the site of his surgery.  Sugar felt sorry for him bumping into everything with the wide cone, so she went to town again to buy a more forgiving inflatable one.

Beau Tie

However, he could still reach his, you know, private area by bending around the inflated tube, so Sugar went back to town to get a second, larger one.  That did not work either so now he wears both.  (Those three trips involved 120 miles of driving, one vet bill, and two purchases for any of you keeping track of such things).

I introduced him to the horses.  They were completely unimpressed.  They let him sniff them without kicking him and ignored his barks.  I am under the impression that was Beau’s first encounter with equine creatures.  It was not the horses’ first encounter with dogs.  They were interested in their hay and not at all interested in the new member of the family.

Sugar took a picture of Sadie and Beau together.  Beau is the one with the fashionable neck ware.  Look, they made friends!

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We don’t know what Beau’s life was like before we brought him into ours, but now we have two dogs from rescue shelters.  (See Sadie’s Tale in the archives for June 29, 2012, under Animal Stories.)  Now they can help each other.  Ain’t that something!

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.

Curved Bill Thrasher

In my blog called By the Dawn’s Early Light, I mentioned that my trophy wife, Miss Sugar, aka Miss Texas, is a bird watcher.  She purchases a variety of bird feed to fill a variety of feeders in hopes of attracting a variety of birds.  She has been very successful in that pursuit.

We have a room on the west side of our house that has wall of three picture windows, giving us a great view of mountains, a stream, trees, and bird feeders.  Miss Sugar has binoculars and a couple books near at hand which identify types of birds.  One of the books is just about birds known to be found in Colorado.

One day, a few weeks ago, Miss Sugar, while monitoring her bird feeders, exclaimed that she saw a new bird, and excitedly looked it up in the Colorado book.  She identified it as a Curved Bill Thrasher.  She told me that they are not found in norther Colorado.  She said there have been sightings in southern Colorado, around Pueblo.  We are so far north that the Wyoming border is only about thirty miles from our place, as the crow flies, or probably as any bird flies. 

Miss Sugar posted on Facebook that she had identified a Curved Bill Thrasher in our yard.  Some other birder encouraged her to contact a rare bird society, which she did via internet.  She posted a photo of the roving thrasher.  I don’t know if they doubted her or just wanted to share the experience of viewing the bird, but the group asked to come to our ranch. 

Huh?  We can’t guarantee its appearance at a certain time.   If a group wanted to come see our trick horse, I’d be glad to host the visit.  But a bird?????????  It is not in a cage!  What a risk of wasting time by making a futile trip.

To me, it is just another bird.  To Miss Sugar, seeing it brought her an honored place in the history of bird watching.

Legend of Rawhide

Me and Miss Sugar made a quick trip to Nebraska and Wyoming this weekend.  It was fun.

On Friday, after work, we drove to Scottsbluff, Nebraska, where I lived before coming to Colorado thirty years ago.  We ate at Applebee’s and stayed at the Hampton Inn.  Everything was fine.  I like western Nebraska.  Scottsbluff is so far west that it is only about twenty-five miles to the Wyoming border.

Saturday morning, we headed to Lusk, Wyoming for the performance of The Legend of Rawhide, which we had never seen but heard about from a gal who used to live there before coming to Fort Collins.  She told us to stay with her Aunt Dottie at her bed and breakfast, which we did.

While waiting for the evening performance, we poked around town.  We visited the local museum and the local pub.  At the pub, a bunch of young men in cowboy hats was drinking and playing pool.  They had an odd custom of sharing a jar of pickle juice.  When offered to Miss Sugar and myself, after we remarked about it, we declined.  No regrets about that decision.  The cheeseburger I got with tater tots was pretty good, but I doubt we will be back.  The patrons were too loud for my taste.

Aunt Dottie’s bed and breakfast was lovely.  She has a mansion-like house with a balcony off the second floor rooms.  In the stairway is a stained glass window imported from Italy.  It looks like it belongs in a cathedral. 

The performance was very well done, all by local folks.  Some played mountain men, some Sioux Indians, and some were folks on a wagon train passing through Wyoming on the way to Oregon.  They had fast galloping horses when the Indian warriors circled the wagon train for a battle after one of the pilgrims shot the chief’s daughter, which is a sure way to incur the wrath of them Sioux.  I was impressed by how the Lusk community comes together to put this on.  Well done.  If you visit Lusk next year, you will probably like it too. 

This morning, Aunt Dottie put out a good breakfast, which we shared with a family from California.  Mr. and Mrs. California knew about this weekend because they grew up in the area before migrating on to California.

After breakfast, Miss Sugar and I traveled about eighty miles east again to Fort Robinson, a former cavalry outpost in the Pine Ridge area of Nebraska.  It has a rich history, including the infamous distinction of being where Crazy Horse surrendered.  Sad for him, after surrendering, he was assasinated by a half-breed.  It was not a fair fight.  Now the fort is a state park.  This is another place I recommend that people interested in the West visit.  Not far away is the Pine Ridge Reservation, which has a history of its own, including the site of the Wounded Knee incident that Dee Brown wrote about years ago in his book, Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee.

We just got home and were glad that it rained a lot while we were gone.  That surely helped put out the fires.  Thank you, Lord!

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