The day will come when I will die. So the only matter of consequence before me is what I will do with my allotted time. I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear, or I can raise my sails and dip and soar in the breeze.--Richard Bode

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My grandson, Andrew, was playing in a baseball game and I wanted to see him do that before I got on the road. I don't get to watch him play very often since he lives so far away from me, so I had a lot of fun seeing him make some great plays.

Then, a quick goodbye to my granddaughters Angela and Abigail. I am dressed in my riding gear. I know that vest i'm wearing looks a little wierd, but if it allows car drivers to see me then it is worth looking a little strange.

My son Erin rode with me a little way, and then I was on my way. It was my first time crossing the High Plains through Wyoming on a motorcyle. The winds were super strong and I had to ride leaned way over. But I could see the mountains ahead. It won't be long now.

And finally, at long last, I started up into them, riding up twisting roads, higher and higher. It is wetter and colder up there, and trees can grow along the highway. In this picture, if you look back between the trees, you can see the High Plains, treeless and dry. They slant down lower and lower until, far away, they are 400 feet above sea level in the prairie of Illinois. Bye for now prairie. I am in my beloved mountains. Yey!!

These are the Bighorn Mountains, one of the many branches of the Rocky Mountain chain. It had snowed six inches up here last night, but thankfully the road was cleared. It is beautiful, the snow and mountains, but very cold. I think I must have looked like a polar bear because of all the clothes I put on.

After awhile the road corkscrewed down into a wide valley. I could see the mountains of Yellowstone Park way off in the far distance.

It is dry in the intermountain valley, but there are many streams and rivers flowing down out of the mountains, and the ranchers here use them to water their crops: cattle feed, some corn, and other things. I never knew for sure what they were growing, but it is mowing time. The new-mown grass smelled sweet and clean and the marvelous scents took me back in my memory to my childhood growing up in Southern Missouri. It was just after World War Two, and all the families who lived around our tiny town were very poor.

My dad was good with his hands, and he used to do repair work for the farmers around there. Nobody had money, so it was all done on the barter system. One man might give my dad a calf for welding his plow; another might give him some lumber for sharpening a hay mower's sickles. We had pigs and chickens and four or five milk cows, and about 10 acres of land.

Once, a man traded my father a field of corn stalks left after the ears were harvestd. I was only about 10 years old, but I got to drive the tractor that we borrowed, and pull the wagon a little. I liked that!My dad gave me an old bayonet to cut the corn stalks with, and he and I and my mother cut that field of corn and piled it in the wagon and took it home.

My dad had some lumber from another job, and he built a silo, and we ground up those corn stalks and blew them up into the top of that silo. He put me in a yellow raincoat and some boots, and I walked around and around in the silo, packing the corn down, until the silo was filled. We fed our cows on that corn all winter long.

 I'll never forget that sweet smell of the ground-up corn, exactly like the smell of the valley grass going to Yellowstone.

Once in Yellowstone, my immediate concern was for the bison herds. I've seen videos of what the bulls do to motorcycles. I guess they think a motorcyle looks like another young bull, and they charge and butt and knock the poor riders for a loop. Not for me, thanks. But this guy stayed nice and gentle, just grazing on grass, bless his buffalo heart.
So, there is a bison picture. Check. I won't bore you with pictures of mule deer. Check. And Elk. Check. Or any of the other wildlife. But I can tell you it was fun riding through Yellowstone.

I camped last night, shivering in my tent, and woke up to 34 degrees. Now I am on my way up to Glacier National Park.  More later. Bye

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