Semper Fidelis - Semper Discentes

Posts Tagged ‘Lander’

It’s Been a LONG Spring and Summer

In Expeditions on July 29, 2014 at 9:44 am

On the last day of February, I received word that my as-yet-unsold house in the Missouri Ozarks had been the victim of a burst water pipe during an extreme cold snap.  The entire downstairs of the 2,800-square-foot place flooded, ruining all the flooring, several walls and ceilings, and creating a generally devastating $20,000 mess.  Fortunately, the insurance company came through, as did the Best Real Estate Agent in the World, who got a contractor to come in and demolish the demolishable, and haul all the wet debris away before the whole place became Mold City.

On April 1, I packed up one bedroom’s worth of furniture, all my books and camping stuff, a primitive set of kitchen appliances, and headed south.  Within a couple of months, all the repairs had been done.  The insurance money lasted EXACTLY as long as the repairs, and I settled in to my one bedroom, anxiously awaiting a buyer.

Lookers came and went, but only one made an offer, at about half what the place was worth.  I kept dropping the price–once, twice, thrice–until I finally got to the point where the proceeds would pay off the mortgage and the realtor.  PERIOD.  The twenty acres, for which I had paid cash, was just thrown in as lagniappe.

About ten days ago, a family–man, wife, six kids–looked at the place and immediately called, saying they wanted it.  He’s out-of-state, so things progress slowly–from him to his realtor, to my realtor, to me.  Everything seems to be falling into place, and a contract was signed yesterday.  We’re supposed to close on the deal within two weeks.

It’s NOT a done deal yet.  He COULD change his mind.  I hope not.  I’m ready to get back to Wyoming–to my family, to school, to snow and wind and sagebrush.  To Oktoberfest and the coolest Halloween you’ve ever seen.  To an occasional happy hour at the Forge and a hike through Sinks Canyon and up to Worthen Lake before they close the road for the winter.

Did almost NO insect collecting this year (or last, either, since we were moving UP to Wyoming), although I’ve had a couple of papers accepted for publication.

In the process of boxing everything up, so that I can be out IMMEDIATELY upon closing.  If the deal falls apart, I guess I can just unpack again.

Keep your fingers crossed and keep us in your prayers.  I’m ready to go HOME!

This is what I was doing the first day of spring in Wyoming.

This is what I was doing the first day of spring in Wyoming.

Missouri Ozarks - last week.

Missouri Ozarks – last week.

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The view out my window.

The view out my Wyoming window.

My first deer.  Ever.  2013.

My first deer. Ever. 2013.

Susan, Getting High in the Mountains

In Expeditions on August 13, 2013 at 9:44 am

As I get older, I find there are fewer and fewer things that I’m really afraid of (Note to purists: “things of which I am really afraid”).

That being said, I’m STILL terrified of heights.  I have dreams about being in high, exposed places, with no way to get down.  I can handle elevators, airplanes, and tall buildings, but can’t climb a tree much over about ten feet before I get REALLY squirrelly.

On our first full weekend in Wyoming, I took Amanda and Susan on a 15-mile drive out into the Wind River Range of the Rockies, just outside our new hometown of Lander.  Drove through the Sinks Canyon State Park, then up a winding switchback to Worthen Meadow Lake, at about 8800′.  Beautiful.

Susan at Worthen Meadow Reservoir.

Susan at Worthen Meadow Reservoir.

Let her wade around in the water a bit, which wasn’t nearly as cold as you might expect, then headed farther uphill to Fiddler Lake, where I’d hoped (to no avail) to find some dragonflies at the 9500′ altitude.

As we returned from Fiddler, we passed some neat, somewhat rounded rock formations, which I believe are the remnants of old magma cores which have been eroded over the eons.  (Thanks, Dr. Glawe, my introductory geology professor at Northeast Louisiana!).  Susan, clad only in “flipflops” decided she wanted to try to climb them.  My motto, insofar as kids are concerned, is, “Do whatever you think you’re big enough to do,” so up she went.  After a few false starts, she found the logical path upward, and posed before a really cool rock that was shaped somewhat like a mushroom, or perhaps a nuclear detonation cloud.

At the mushroom rock.

At the mushroom rock.

She wasn’t finished yet.  She soon disappeared around the back of the rock.  After five minutes (I sure wasn’t gonna climb up there and find her), she reappeared, standing proudly at the highest point of the formation, which I’d estimate was about 100′ above our vantage point down on the road.  Bear in mind, the climb was NOT particularly difficult, basically a strenuous walk uphill, with a few places where she had to scramble upward, over obstructions.

The view from below.

The view from below.  Susan is the speck at the top.

A closer view of the "summit".

A closer, albeit blurry, view of the “summit”.

After she returned to the Jeep, I figured that, if she was gonna be racing up and down rocks in the Rockies, she should at least learn how to do it properly.  Looked around the town, which is FULL of outdoor outfitters, training facilities, and equipment purveyors (In addition to being the international headquarters of “NOLS”, the National Outdoor Leadership School).  Found a fitness center with a pretty extensive “climbing wall”.

Amanda had to go to work on Monday, while Susan got to enjoy ten more days of summer freedom.  Took her to the climbing center, and paid $8 for an “all-day” climbing pass and $5 to rent climbing shoes.  The lady took her through the safety procedures, then turned her loose on the wall.

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She’s not Sir Edmund Hillary yet, but she’s doing great.  Talked to the pastor’s wife at church (she’s a climber), and she says she’s got a pair of climbing shoes she’s outgrown, her foot’s only SLIGHTLY larger than Susan’s, and she’ll be glad to let Susan have them.

I’m pretty proud of my ten-year-old daughter.

Learning to Talk All Over Again

In Uncategorized on August 12, 2013 at 9:37 am

Wyoming flagOkay.  I’ve been a Wyomingite for over ten days now.  Got my Wyoming license plates, drivers license, voter registration card, and library card.  Opened a bank account.  Joined a health club.  Found a church.  From the balconies of our apartment (Elevation: 5600′), I can see the Wind River Range of the Rockies, only about ten miles from town (Elevation: up to 13,000+’).

Look, look, look.  Lookin' out my back...WINDOW.

Look, look, look. Lookin’ out my back…WINDOW.

I’m originally from Louisiana, so I’m used to folks in less-civilized areas saying that I “talk funny”.  Son, if you want to hear some “funny talking”, you need to come to WYOMING.  These are real friendly folks, but, every time I open my mouth, somebody has to correct my pronunciation.

The beautiful little Popo Agie River runs through the heart of my new hometown of Lander.  As the lady at the Wyoming Game and Fish office told me, “It’s ‘puh-PO-juh’, like I told ya’.”

Dubois ain’t “du-BWAH”, but “du-BOYS”.  “Ethany” is “EE-thany”.  I’d thought I was doing well by saying “wuh-SHAH-key”, but “Washakie” is really “WASH-uh-kee”.

Jeez, I even had trouble with the name of a lady I met at church.  “Annah” isn’t “ANN-uh”, but “AH-nuh”.

This is a great little town.  I’ll bet that at LEAST 80% of the people we’ve met have said, “Welcome to Lander”.  Wore my cowboy boots to church.  Just about finished with a 600-page “History of Wyoming”.  It’s good to be here.

Welcome to Wyoming.

We’re HERE!

In Expeditions, Uncategorized on August 4, 2013 at 5:22 pm

It’s been a wild and wooly week for the clan.

After arranging with a LOCAL truck rental place for the availability of their LARGEST truck on Monday morning, (in order to protect the privacy of the company, and avoid litigation, let’s call the outfit “You Haul”), we got a phone call over the weekend telling us we’d have to drive to a small town FIFTY miles away to get the $*#($# thing.  Okay.

Got up at 6:30 Monday morning, drove to the rental place and picked up the truck.  Drove back home and managed to get it down the driveway without wrecking anything or backing into the house.  Wife had hired three PROFESSIONAL packers to put the entire contents of our 3,000 square foot home into the truck.  They did a SUPER job, and didn’t leave many, if any, empty spaces in the 26′ truck.

Got finished about 4:30, hooked up the “tow dolly” to the truck, loaded the Jeep onto it, and ready to go.  We’d planned to spend the night in a local motel before embarking on the 1,200-mile Missouri-to-Wyoming trip on Tuesday morning.  I, however, was antsy to get started, so I cleared out a small spot on the seat of the truck for Dobby, The Best Dog in the World, and we started north, figuring to stop whenever we got tired.  Amanda and Susan set out in the Ford Escape.  Those sissies only made it about 250 miles, and stopped at a posh hotel in Kansas City.  Dobby and I, with our training as Marine Corps killer/typists, however, pressed on.

As I’d picked up the truck with only about a half-tank of gas, the fuel gauge was getting into the red, just north of Springfield.  Really hurt my feelings to find that it costs about $200 for each fillup.  Fortunately, my wealthy wife had given me a bunch of money for expenses.  Up into Iowa, then over the Missouri River (again) into Nebraska.  I was feeling good, but the air conditioning was a bit cool on the Dobster, so I pulled out a blanket for her to snuggle into.

Through Lincoln, and headed west on I-80.  Still feeling good, but it was getting late into the night.  Drove on a bit further, and decided to pull into an interstate rest area and spend the night in the truck.  First one was FULL of big trucks, with absolutely nowhere to park.  Forty miles later, ditto for the second one.  At 1:30 AM, still feeling okay, found a slot in the third one, just east of Kearney, Nebraska.  Pulled out the old WWII surplus sleeping bag for a pad, went into the rest stop to brush teeth and take care of essentials, then pulled the blanket over dog and geezer, and hit the sack.

Woke at 6:30 and hit the road.  Six hundred miles down, six hundred to go.  By about 4:00, we pulled in to Lander, Wyoming.  Pulled into what I THOUGHT was the rental agency, hoping to leave the locked truck there, take the Jeep off the dolly, and return the dolly.  Waited around for forty-five minutes, and nobody showed up at the place, which was unlocked and wide open.  Drove the huge truck and attached Jeep back to the motel, only managing to sorta nudge ONE tree and a signpost, VERY slightly.

Since the motel hadn’t expected us until the FOLLOWING day (Amanda and Susan didn’t make it any farther than Ogalalla, Nebraska, on Day Two), I had to take the only room they had, which smelled very much as if it had hosted a Marlboro convention.  Went to sleep.  Dob woke me at 6:30 the next morning, needing to “do her business”.  Dressed in my “sleeping shorts” and a t-shirt, I took her outside.  Business completed, returned to the room, where I inserted my “key card”, which immediately caused a red light on the door lock to illuminate, and STAY illuminated.  Could not get in.  Desk clerk could not get in.  Desk clerk could not contact any maintenance personnel.  Had to sit in the small lobby, holding Dobby in my lap, because she wanted to leap into the arms of every stranger who entered for breakfast.  Over an hour later, a maintenance guy was located, and managed to get me into the room, but would not be able to fix the lock until later in the morning.  If I left, I couldn’t get back in.

Went back to the rental place, which was actually about a half-mile farther down the road from the place where I’d previously waited.  The attendant most probably was actually a zombie.  He looked at me rather vacantly, did not respond to verbal questions, but managed to fill out the paperwork for me to return the “tow dolly”.  At that point, with the Jeep still FIRMLY lashed to the apparatus, I asked him if he could reattach the driveshaft, which the rental guys in Missouri had quickly removed prior to towing the vehicle.  “Uh, I might could figure it out.”  Never mind.  I, mechanical doofus that I am, crawled under there and could quickly see how the thing was supposed to re-attach, but was unable to QUITE get it right.  Crawled back out.

“Now we just need to get the Jeep off the dolly, and I’ll be gone.”  Since the thing has 4-wheel drive, I figured I’d just drop it down into 4WD, so that the FRONT wheels would pull it, and drive down the street to a mechanic.  The zombie did not respond.  At that point, another customer arrived, and the zombie immediately abandoned me, going inside to fill out a VERY complicated rental agreement with the new guy, taking well over an hour.  I approached him several times, asking for just TWO minutes of his time to help loosen a tie-chain that had tightened during the trip.  He, however, had been struck both mute and dumb.  After an additional half-hour of prying and banging, I got the Jeep off, disconnected the dolly, and drove away.

Amanda and Susan arrived that night, we moved into a smokeless room, ate a nice meal, and prepared to meet with the landlady she’d been speaking with for about a month.  The rental property (our house-and-twenty-acres in Missouri is unsold, and I’m continuing to make mortgage, insurance and tax payments on it) was a duplex, and the neighborhood was sedate.  The owner agreed to meet us there, aware that we had Dobby, a seven-year-old Boston terrier, and Little Cat, a VERY mellow, declawed cat.  She gave us the keys and the garage door opener, and told us to drop by in the morning to complete the paperwork.  Back to the motel.

Two hours later.  Knock on the door of the motel, and there’s the landlady, who’d tracked us down.  “I changed my mind.  You seem like nice folks, but I don’t want to rent to people who have a cat.”  Returned the keys and door opener.

Next morning, hit the streets, looking for a place to live.  After a few hours (not a lot of rental choices here), we settled on a 1,000 square foot apartment ON THE THIRD FLOOR.  Since we had 3,000 square feet of possessions to put into a 1,000 square foot space, we rented a storage building.  I managed to get about 1/3 of the truck unloaded until I hit a wall of BIG, HEAVY stuff (fold-out sleeper sofa, buffet, tall chests, etc.)  Retired to the balcony of the apartment to drink MANY adult beverages.  I’d assumed that all Wyomingites (I had to ask the lady at the bank–I thought they were called Wyomagonians, or some such!) would be Coors drinkers, and, wanting to blend in with the locals, bought a twelve-pack of the beverage.  Must be an acquired taste.  Finished half of one, poured the rest down the drain, went back to the store for Anheuser-Busch products.  Resumed drinking.

View from our bedroom balcony.

View from our bedroom balcony.

Same balcony, different view.  The Wind River Range of the Rocky Mountains.

Same balcony, different view. The Wind River Range of the Rocky Mountains.

The next morning, we couldn’t do much until the three college guys we’d hired showed up at 4:30.  I drove around town.  Opened a bank account.  Joined an exercise club.  Got a library card and my Wyoming Jeep plates.  Registered to vote.  Guys showed up on time, and took about two hours to get ALL the heavy stuff upstairs.  I didn’t help very much, as my nearly-62-year-old back was SCREAMING.  Amanda paid each of them a hundred bucks for the two hours’ work, and they were worth THRICE that much!  Took the truck back, and let AMANDA deal with the zombie.  She’d thought I was exaggerating, but knows better now.

Went out this morning and sat through TWO church services, and am pretty sure I know which one we want to attend.  Boxes everywhere, but we’ve finally gotten MOST of the stuff sorted and put away.  I went through four full boxes of bug-and-science books, managed to get rid of a very few, and was able to put some into storage, only keeping out about 50 or 100 that I REALLY need.  Redesigned my home-made “business cards”.

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Soon, I’ll be able to get out with the dragonfly net, and see what Wyoming has to offer.  There’s a lot of “virgin bug territory” around our Popo Agie River (I asked the lady at the Game & Fish office how to pronounce it.  She said, “Puh-PO-juh, like I tol’ja.”) and in the Wind River Range of the Rockies, just west of town.  Something tells me the “bugging season” is gonna be a LOT shorter here than it was in the Ozarks.  Got some maps from BLM (Bureau of Land Management), and will go out tomorrow.

Just down the road.  The Popo Agie River at the "rise".  Sinks Canyon State Park.

Just down the road. The Popo Agie River at the “rise”. Sinks Canyon State Park.

This looks like a great town.  Lots of nice shops and cafes, and a lot of really FIT-looking folks on bikes and just walking about.  I’ve picked up a bunch of books on local history, using my new library card.  Still gotta get my Wyoming drivers license, but the office is only open on Tuesday and Wednesday.  I’ll keep you posted.

Y’all come see us.

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The Great Adventure Begins!!

In Expeditions, Uncategorized on July 27, 2013 at 9:35 am

The house looks even messier than usual.  I’ve got all my books packed away and lugged downstairs.  Pulled out all the drawers in the rolltop desk and burned about half of the junk I found inside.  Got 95% of the camping/hiking/kayaking/fishing/water quality monitoring equipment boxed up from my “Man Closet”.  Cleaned  out all the tools and junk from the pumphouse/toolshed.  Sold all the big and bulky stuff I won’t be able to use in a Wyoming rental house  (beehives, tiller, chainsaw, cinderblocks, etc.).  Threw away lots of mismatched socks, ancient underwear, and quite a few pair of shorts that seem to have shrunken somewhat over the past six years.

It’s Saturday morning, and I’ll probably put in a little bit of time lugging furniture downstairs, taking beds apart, and such.

On Monday morning, bright and early, I drive down to the U-Haul dealer, and drive away in the biggest truck he’s got, with one of those “tow dollies” attached behind, bearing my banana-yellow Jeep Wrangler.  SUPPOSEDLY, a couple of burly guys are gonna show up at 9 AM, contracted to lift and tote for four hours.

The Wind River Range, just west of Lander.

The Wind River Range, just west of Lander, Wyoming.

Guess we’ll probably have to sleep on the floor Monday night.  Then, as soon as I get up and fortify myself with coffee, we’re On The Road, with 1200+ miles ahead of us, and Douglas (Booger) County, Missouri, in our rearview mirror.  I’m not looking forward to a pair of back-to-back 600-mile days, with a couple of days unloading and arranging to follow (once we find a place to rent!!!).

The Popo Agie

The Popo Agie

The Great Adventure begins!  Can’t wait to get settled in and learn what cool, new bugs I can find at 6,000-12,000 feet above sea level in the area around Lander, Wyoming, the Popo Agie River, Fremont County, and the Wind River Range.  I’ll keep you posted.

If you happen to be in the market for a new, four-bedroom, three bath house on twenty acres, deep in an Ozark “holler”, I’ll make you a good deal.

At home in the Ozarks.

At home in the Ozarks.

Looks Like We’re Getting Close!!

In Expeditions, Uncategorized on July 12, 2013 at 11:54 am

After over a year of planning and preparation, it looks like we’re getting VERY close to our relocation to Lander, Wyoming, and the “Popo Agie River area”.

Amanda’s job will require her to be there by August 1, and we’ve been madly packing, selling unneeded (or un-MOVEABLE) stuff, and waiting for her “moving check” to arrive.  As soon as it does, we’ll be heading north.

Guess I need to go out and dig up all my carrion beetle traps, pack them securely away, and HIDE them amongst the packing boxes, as I’m sure she’ll decide that they are dispensable and should be left behind.  For her sake, I WILL dispose of all the carrion I’ve been collecting for bait.

‘Twill be hard to leave our (unsold) house-and-twenty-acres here in the Missouri Ozarks; however, I’ve located a friend to “house-sit” for us while we wait, pray and hope for a buyer.  In the meantime, we expect to be living in rented digs in Wyoming, learning about all sorts of neat and new stuff, and trying to look cowboyish and stay warm.

I’ll admit that the prospect of leaving has given me quite a roller-coaster ride; however, faith and a steadfast reliance upon legal pharmaceuticals has got me looking forward to our Great Adventure.

Once we get settled in, hope to be providing you with a closer look at the “Bugs of Popo Agie”.  As we’d say in Louisiana, “Y’all come see us!”

Welcome to the Popo Agie!!

In Expeditions on March 20, 2013 at 7:54 pm

The Popo Agie Wilderness
Stolen from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 
 
Pingora Peak rises above Lonesome Lake in the Cirque of the Towers in the Popo Agie Wilderness
Pingora Peak rises above Lonesome Lake in the Cirque of the Towers in the Popo Agie Wilderness
 
 
Location Fremont / Sublette counties, Wyoming, USA
Nearest city Lander, WY
   
Area 101,870 acres
(412 km2)
Established 1984
Governing body U.S. Forest Service

Popo Agie Wilderness (pron.: /pˈpʒə/)[ is located within Shoshone National Forest, Wyoming, United States. The wilderness consists of 101,870 acres (412 km2) on the east side of the continental divide in the Wind River Range. Originally set aside as a primitive area in 1932, in 1984 the Wyoming Wilderness Act was passed securing a more permanent protection status for the wilderness. The wilderness is a part of the 20 million acre (81,000 km2) Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

U.S. Wilderness Areas do not allow motorized or mechanized vehicles, including bicycles. Although camping and fishing are allowed with proper permit, no roads or buildings are constructed and there is also no logging or mining, in compliance with the 1964 Wilderness Act. Wilderness areas within National Forests and Bureau of Land Management areas also allow hunting in season.

The Popo Agie Wilderness is a primarily sub-alpine and alpine region with the minimum elevation being 8,400 feet (2,600 m). Twenty mountains exceed 12,000 feet (3,660 m) with the highest being Wind River Peak at 13,192 feet (4,021 m). Perhaps the most visited area within the wilderness and the entire Wind River Range is the Cirque of the Towers due to the impressive granitic mountains and sheer cliffs which attract climbers from all over the world. Overuse has led to camping restrictions within the wilderness, especially in the proximity of Lonesone Lake which is located in the Cirque of the Towers. The wilderness spans a 25 mile (40 km) section of the southern Wind River Range.

Over 300 lakes and several tributaries of the Wind River are located in the wilderness. Rare reports of wolves have been documented and are considered to be from the Wolf Recovery efforts commenced in the late 20th century in Yellowstone National Park to the north. Additionally, reports of grizzly bears have been documented but they too are rare. Black bears, moose, elk, and pronghorn are the more commonly sighted megafauna. Trumpeter swans, bald eagles, hawks, and falcons inhabit the wilderness, especially near lakes and streams. Eight species and subspecies of trout, including a few found only in the Yellowstone region exist as well. The forest is dominated by lodgepole pine and Douglas fir, Engelmann Spruce, and subalpine fir at higher elevations up to the timberline.

The closest town is Lander, Wyoming. Access into the wilderness from the north via the Wind River Indian Reservation requires obtaining a permit before entering.