Hello Everyone. I am really excited to share this post with you. I feel I should get something out on the table right now because it has not come up in previous blog posts. I have had an ongoing love affair with Wyoming. It is a multi-generational thing really. My great-grandmother grew up in Cache Valley near the Bear River. She met my great-grandfather, a baseball pitcher who played for the Utah/Idaho, and Nevada minor leagues, at a dance in Clarkston, Utah.
He and my great-grandmother shared a cabin in Kelly, Wyoming where they spent months of Septembers. This tradition carried onto my grandparents Rex and Diane, filtered down to my father, and has since trickled down to me. If I wanted to romanticize the hell out of this I would say that Wyoming is in my blood. The Bear and the Snake are in there somewhere. I believe my son has also been “snake bit.”
Who needs social media when you can spend the day enjoying the Snake River? I checked my phone going into the town of Jackson and everyone was in an uproar over Colin Kaepernick and Nike. I don’t want to undermine anyone’s stance on this but as I was looking at the Tetons, staring at the big dipper in the Wyoming Sky, and pondering why a lone buffalo was so far from its herd all of it seemed SO FAR away. I cursed myself for checking my phone.
As my family and I were roasting apple empanadas over the fire later in the evening, of course our topic of conversation went towards the heavens and contemplating the mysteries of the Universe. My daughter Kira boldly stated that she believed that humankind is all part of a simulation. I could only think to myself…well if that is correct, what a great simulation this is. It became a joke between us as we were hiking to Taggart Lake. We had crossed over numerous mountainous streams and walked through a patch of forest that seemed to be straight out of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village. It was at this point that my daughter turned to me and said, “It’s been another great day in the simulation,” and I said, “Tis.”
By the way, the featured color in Yellowstone in September is Yellow.
You can see it in the quakies too. Which is another word for Quaking Aspen. Kokes and Cutties are fish, and just a word of advice, if you wear bear bells you should know that the locals will make fun of you. These quaking aspen outside a historical cabin in Cody have not turned yet. Here is another historical cabin, and these berries are just so photogenic I just had to take their picture too. One also cannot forget about the Wyoming thistle.
I could gush about Wyoming so much that it would be so hard to pull my love for it into one post. This would take many posts my friends. I recently wrote a thirty-page piece of non-fiction about a bear encounter I had once with all of my children in the most unassuming place, Jenny Lake. A compressed version of this would be that a Grizzly Bear came down a trail I was going up and he stopped, checked me out, and sniffed the air a few times. He then went towards the water to get a drink and he was only five feet from my daughter who stood fearless and wanted to pet him. Of course we pulled her back and told her to give the bear some space.
After drinking from the water, the bear walked towards my father. He sniffed at my father’s feet and was curious about his tackle. My dad was jumping around the bear like he was trying not to trip over a cat. He COMMANDED the bear to leave after having flashbacks of my grandfather chasing after Grizzly Bears with his pitching arm chucking rocks and shouting obscenities at them for getting into his fish.
My father had his fishing pole extended between him and the bear with the sworn intent that it would not get more than a fishing pole length between them . He swished that pole like it was the sword of Zorro. The family story became “remember that time dad Zorroed a bear?” They don’t teach you that in campfire programs and this isn’t some cock and bull story either. I was there.
I will admit, Wyoming is full of Cock and Bull stories. The amazing thing about this is that in general, most of them turn out to be true. Supposedly, my grandmother used to feed Grizzlies off her porch like they were ducks on a lake.
My father recalls driving through Yellowstone giving them slices of bread through the car window while they’d lean against the car heaving with their snouts between the window and the frame wanting more. The history of bear management in Yellowstone is enthralling. We’ve come a long way with Bear Management my friends. After checking out old You Tube videos of Yellowstone I believe it. Check out this one
A watershed moment for the Parks Industry is recounted in Night of the Grizzlies. If you click on the link and read the Prologue, you will be impressed. I was. This book was a gem of a resource when writing my non-fiction piece.
Do I believe that my grandmother fed grizzlies off her porch like they were ducks on a lake? I only know that after my grandmother had her stroke she forgot about a lot of things. She forgot she was my grandmother. I had to remind her that I was her great-grand-daughter, and she’d say, “NO….” as if I were talking nonsense. I’d say, “Yes. remember little Curtis? He’s my father. He’s all grown up now.” She’d look at her crumpled hands awhile, play with her wedding ring, and say, “I guess I am.” She’d then get real quiet and shake her finger at me and say, “Don’t you go telling anyone that I am an old woman now will you?”
In all her confusion, my grandmother NEVER forgot Yellowstone, Kelly, or the Bears. Her eyes lit up when she talked about them. She’d talk about the bears like they were old friends and she told me with absolute conviction that bears were nothing to be afraid of. Maybe I thought about her too as I bowed my head and let the bear sniff me out in the wild. I will never forget that feeling. Awe and wonder don’t even cover it, and the smell from the bear was unlike anything I had ever smelled before either. I believe the bear and I came to a mutual agreement. Neither one of us appeared to be all that threatening. Curious would be the word I would use.
According to Indian Legend, when you encounter a bear you are encountering an ancestor. I’d like to believe my grandparents were mashed up in all of this. Either way, It was another great day in the simulation. I leave you with these photos of my week my friends. I have a whole slew of Wyoming photos. This is just a taste of them. I had the privilege of visiting the Western Writer’s collection in Cody and visiting my favorite bookstore, The Valley Bookstore which I never miss while I am in Jackson.
I hope that one day, I will have my own book in there. One can dream while living in the simulation!
My Husband Catching Some Zen Time. Thayne, Wyoming.
If you are a reader, I think you would enjoy Jim Harrison’s novella, Legends of the Fall. Montana, not Wyoming, but includes bears and Indian legends.
Sounds a great trip.
I should read the book. I have seen the movie.