Well, so much for my “new-post-every-week” idea. That lasted all of one month. Ha! (I should have known better...) I've gotten a wee bit behind on posting here. We've actually had visitors THREE times in the last two months. My parents were here in mid-April, my sister-in-law came out two weeks after they left and my in-laws were here just last week. So, I'm backtracking here a little bit. I've had this post about my parent's visit written up and ready to go for a while, but I just haven't had opportunity to get it online yet. Here ya' go:
We only had a few days with my parents, so we spent a lot of time around the house just relaxing and enjoying each others company. But we also got out a bit! Did a little eating out, a little shopping (mostly of the “window” variety), spent a little time at the park and the library... The weather during their visit was interesting, to say the least. Up until a week or so before they arrived, the temperatures had been warm and the skies had been sunny. But, it seems like every time they come to Wyoming, it rains (or snows). And this time was no exception. The weather turned colder, we had spritzes of rain, and it snowed (at least a little) almost every day they were here.
Interestingly, the weather turned out to be a great advocate on our sight-seeing day! Because when it storms... the animals come down out of the high mountains to where they are easily spotted. Perfect timing! The evening before our planned excursion we were planning to stop by a local store just to get out of the house, but when we got there they were already closed. After a few minutes of indecision, we decided to drive up one of the highways out of town as far as we could before it got dark, just to see what we could see. We were much enjoying the beautiful views of the mountains at dusk and watching the lights come on at various outposts across the valley, but we decided to turn around and head back before the daylight was completely gone. As we headed back towards town there was just the faintest amount of daylight remaining – just enough to tint the sky a deep shade of blue in the west. We saw brake lights up ahead of us and began slowing down. (The highway we were traveling is notorious for deer in the road.) When we got up to the (fully) stopped vehicle, we saw large dark forms moving across the road in front of it. Lots of them. What were they? Deer? It was so dark it was hard to see them.
Elk! We watched them cross until there was a break in the group, then moved slowly forward. As we turned to look behind us for a last glimpse of them before heading home, we were rewarded with the sight of black elk bodies standing out against the deep blue of the western twilight sky as they waited on top of a small ridge to descend and cross the road. It was absolutely beautiful. (And none of us had cameras, so you'll have to picture it in your mind's eye.) A few minutes later, my husband memorialized the moment for us with the use of some odd vocabulary (not an unusual occurrence - lol). “It was great seeing those elk figurined against the sky.” Laughter ended the (almost) reverent feel of the moment.
Up until that point we had been a little undecided about where we would head on our trip the next day, but that settled it for us. We left town right after lunch for an afternoon go-where-we-might adventure.
Straight up the highway, just past “Figurine Point” (haha), lo and behold... there they were. We pulled off the road to park so we could watch and photograph a herd of over 100 elk, just grazing and relaxing in a large pasture.
We stayed there for a little while before getting back on the road. After passing countless mule deer, we made our way up to where the highway enters the national forest land. Right at that point we ran across our third big game animal of the day – bighorn sheep (at this point also, it started drizzling rain). We spotted a few sheep way up on the hillside and stopped so we could get a closer look and see if any of them were rams. I was not expecting to see rams down from the mountain at this time of the year, but it seems that the snows had moved them down, because we quickly spotted this manly group:
A little farther down the road we came upon a smaller ram and two ewes right beside the road.
And a bit farther still we found a larger group of ewes close to the road. After this group of sheep, we also spotted several more large groups that we farther off the road. There were sheep everywhere!
As we drove farther up, we also passed several smaller groups of elk.
There were quite a few birds out as well. Mountain bluebirds seemed to be all over the place. We also saw some geese, hawks and a bald eagle (picture is just of a raven, but neat-looking anyway).
At one point early in the day, I had asked our daughter what animal she would like to see. Her answer was “buffalo”. She was excited about seeing all the elk and deer and sheep (and the domestic horses we passed in the valley), and then we found “her” animal!
We passed five of these big bruisers right beside the road. I snapped a few pictures, but we weren't about to park our car right alongside them to get some better shots. I wasn't really interested in paying for bodywork (yeah - these guys have been known to total vehicles that get a bit too close). One of the bulls was so close to the road that we could have about reached right out the window and touched his shaggy hide as we drove past. We didn't, and we won't (because we know better). But I wonder what it would have felt like...
About when we saw the buffalo, or a little before that, it had changed from light rain to snow flurries. As we kept on driving deeper into the mountains, the snow kept getting heavier and heavier. Finally we decided to turn around, because it was snowing so much that we couldn't really spot any animals anyway (and besides, we were only a few miles from the end of the road). As we drove back towards town, I kept expecting the snow to change back to rain... but it didn't. We drove right with the storm all the way back into town. I love when it snows. (By the way, the big elk herd was still in the same place when we came back by. They must have stayed there all day long.)
The next day we had a birthday party for our now two-year-old little girl! It was actually a few days before her birthday, but we wanted to celebrate with Grandma & Grandpa while they were here. We had a fun lunch with some friends, followed up by cake and ice cream of course, then presents for the birthday girl.
The next day we had to take Grandma & Grandpa back to the airport for their flight home. It sure seemed like they weren't here long enough! That night, our daughter was protesting her bedtime. She stood near the doorway of her bedroom and emphatically said, “I want Grandma.” I tried to explain that Grandma had gone home, but that wasn't cutting it. “I want Grandma!” Then she stamped her little foot. “I want Grandma!!” Then she jumped up and down. “I want Grandma!!!” Hmmm... I guess it sunk in then that Grandma couldn't come and tuck her in, because she quieted down and went to lay down in her bed. As I tucked the covers around her, she looked in my face and quietly said, “I want Grandpa.”
Me, too, little girl. Me too.