Monday, July 21, 2014

The Road to Nowhere... Again

What seems like a lifetime ago, we were just starting out. We had two children, ages 2 and 6. The state was in a recession. Making ends meet was tough. Mick went back to school and I took a full-time teaching job. But then everything changed and my husband was offered a teaching job in the tiny town of Grouse Creek--the very town where he began his life, the town where his father had grown up and had spent much of his life cattle ranching. When my husband took the teaching job, it was a dream come true for him. But I had just signed a full-time teaching job and wasn't sure what the next year would bring, so I stayed with our youngest in our house that we had built just two years before. My husband took the oldest child so he could be one of his 25 students in the two room school, grades K-10. We met on the weekends.

After the hardest year of my life, I was more than ready to give up the teaching job and join the other half of my family. I taught part-time and we had a great few years more of teaching. And even though there were some adjustments, we blended well into the ranching town. The town is 70 miles to the nearest real grocery store and most of the road is gravel. Flat tires and breakdowns are common with so many miles of constant travel. Still, there's no place like it or as the Grouse Creek sign says, "A Place Like No Other."

Mick is now nearing the end of his career. Needing a change, when the job came open again, we decided to go for it. We had a great experience 25 years ago, and hope to have another great experience. Times have changed even for the tiny town, in that they have become even tinier. Now Mick will only have 7 kids. And so there isn't a job for me, but I can take my computer and hope to be inspired to write another novel. The town inspired three novels which are set there: "A Question of Trust" False Pretenses" and "Sun Tunnels and Secrets."  They are all still available on Amazon. We will live in the family house again--the house right behind the school. And no we aren't moving. We'll be back and forth a lot. Our house will be lived in, so it won't be empty and will be taken care of. We welcome friends and family to visit this unique place.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Lessons from hiking in Yellowstone with a 7-year-old

1. The destination is not nearly as important as the trial itself. The "joy is in the journey" is what it's all about. The more obstacles to increase the imagination, the better. This would include roots that trip most adults "heat censors" to most likely detect "nozzleheads." The best I can tell nozzleheads are fallen dead trees with a shape like a dragon. All I know is whenever I tried to identify one, I was wrong. So apparently these are more visible to the keen eye of a 7-year old.

2. All hikes are better with the promise of an ice cream bar afterward. Driving way out of the way in search of the bar is not of any consequence. And it doesn't matter if you have already eaten dinner or not. When I was just a tiny child, no older than four, part of the allure of our family cabin was the treats that Montana seemed to have more selection and better taste than anything in Utah. I don't know at what point, I realized that the brand Wilcoxson's was the reason. Everyday in Yellowstone we find a store to buy our daily dose because seriously nothing compares to this brand. Our grand children know the drill and happily go along with it. Our last day in the Park, we bought our grandson three bars because who knew when he'd have another chance to have one. These were well-spaced out, but we heard later he threw up at home. Hopefully, it was NOT too much of a good thing.

3. All sticks are potential weapons for fighting something--nozzleheads maybe.

4. All boulders, the larger the better, should be climbed and conquered. And one never knows what one will find--even pizza perhaps. Explanation: One of our favorite hiking spots begins and ends at the Yellowstone River picnic ground. This hike follows a ridge and offers a fabulous view of the canyon full of hoodoos opposite of tower falls (though not the falls itself.) After we'd finished the hike, my husband and grandson made it down before me. I stayed up on the ridge answering emails and phone messages because it's one of the few places in the Park that you can get reception. Anyway just before I got down to the picnic ground, an Aussie with a great accent came out of his motor home and plopped his pizza down on a picnic table then stepped back inside. Then a large raven swooped down and picked up the whole pizza slice. About a half-hour later our grandson was climbing boulders when he found the pizza slice on top of one. He had to go back, find the man the man and show him where his pizza ended up. They had some great laughs about that, but for some reason the man declined to eat the remainder of the pizza--though he added it had been really good.

5. Seeing wild animals on a hike is always a bonus. If there are baby animals, so much the better. On the same hike we saw marmots, Rocky Mountain Sheep and babies, Antelopes and babies. The sheep, perhaps even more tame than the domestic version came right up to me as I snapped their photos.

6. Being prepared means hauling bear spray everywhere you hike in and around Yellowstone. However, 7-year-olds may be disappointed when they don't actually encounter a bear on the trail to spray. Two years ago, this same 7-year-old had gotten too far in front of us on a trail and mom and her cubs came within ten yards of him. Nothing happened fortunately, but the first thing he said to us was "spray it!"

7. Seeing other hikers on the trail is not a downside, but an opportunity to swap tales--especially when you've seen a raven steal someone's pizza--because really what could be more exciting than that?

8. Baby animals cuteness is directly comparable to the baby brother you left at home. Seeing cute baby animals reminds you of how much you miss baby brothers.

9. If one prays to see a bear and one does see a bear, then the prayer was answered. If one prays to see a wolf and a coyote, but doesn't, then it's nothing to be worried about. (Or lose faith over.)

10. Potty talk is always, always funny especially when it's your grammy that says words like peedle pot and stink pot. There are plenty of opportunities for saying stink pot in Yellowstone, since it is full of them. The only problem is that sometimes grammy might accidentally call someone else a stinkpot.