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“If fishing is like religion, then fly-fishing is high church.” ~ Tom Brokaw Another day spent on the banks of the Tongue River (north Fork) in the Prune Creek Wilderness Campground. We woke to a forty-degree morning and the sound of brown trout calling Len’s name. There was heavy condensation inside the trailer on the windows and doors. This happens when the temperature drops, much as it does in a tent with two people breathing all night. We just pull back the curtains and it evaporates quickly enough. Two nights feels right for a relaxed stay. Next trip we’ll make sure to book more double nights and make it the norm more than the exception. We’ve had great neighbors here, quiet but friendly. Most of the conversations revolve around fishing, especially since Len walks around with a fly rod everywhere he goes, because you never know when the fish will be biting. And I hate to brag too much because he’s a modest man, but virtually everywhere people have told us, “the fish aren’t biting” he’s been pulling them out left and right (and releasing all but a few). Of course, there are lots of people here fishing for trout with spinners and worms (artificial and real) which seems weird but I guess some people do it that way. The woman at Medicine Lodge Creek who ran park maintenance (and told him the fish weren’t biting there) asked Len what fly pattern he was fishing with and when he told her (Ausable Bomber—and how many fish he’d caught) she said her favorite lure for trout was a “Number Nine Pink Nightie” then waited expectantly. When Len asked what that looked like she laughed and said, “That’s gets the fly fishermen every time. It’s a number nine hook with a rubber pink nightcrawler stuck on it.” We laughed and she seemed pleased to have found another sucker to fall for the joke. I’m now trying to use up fresh food in the fridge so I made our first hot breakfast of the trip: turkey sausage and western-style (but, of course!) scrambled eggs with garlic, red pepper, tomatoes, and cheddar cheese topped with hot sauce. And of course Len’s delicious coffee which I’m thinking he may need to start making every morning, given that he is retired now, after all. The trout kept singing their siren call and Len kept heeding it. We are right on the banks of the river and every time a fish jumped or the light on the water changed he’d go for his fly rod. We snacked through lunch (while fishing and hiking) and cooked a...

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“You have brains in your head, and feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.” ~Dr. Seuss For breakfast, I ate my leftovers from the Speakeasy and Len ate a banana and a lamb-jerky bar, part of a big box of retirement goodies from my sister (he loves them, Sarah). I finished up some online stuff, scheduled the next update to publish while out of range, and we headed into the Bighorn Mountains. It was a sixty-mile trip to the Prune Creek Wilderness Campground and we stopped at the Burgess Junction Visitor’s Center at the junction of 14 and 14-A. By now most of the educational things we’re reading are things we’ve seen in other museums along the way, but the refresher is always good. I’ve been so intrigued with the rocks of Wyoming. The chert is especially interesting and is what was used to make knapped arrowheads and spear points for thousands of years. The sedimentary rocks often have evidence of invertebrate fossils in them, and the granite is just gorgeous, often pink or red with veins of quartz or onyx running through them. I snagged a few for the crabitat, all the while secretly hoping that Wyoming has a goddess (like Pele) that will compel me to keep returning to her mountains. Before leaving the visitor’s center we ate a quick lunch out of the chuckwagon (smoked turkey wrapped in a tortilla with provolone and Parmesan and a handful of grapes). At that point we didn’t realize how close we were to our destination and suddenly 2.1 miles later we were at Prune Creek. The Tongue River here is just gorgeous (it’s what Prune Creek feeds into). It’s still fairly high from snowmelt, but it’s got wide open banks and Len was able to fish from the sides and cast all the way to the far bank with no trouble. It’s at an altitude of about 8,000 feet and reminds us both of the Adirondacks. The woods are mostly pine and the river water is clear but stained brown with tannins from the pine duff. The campsite was quite nice. The amenities included a pit toilet (for the whole campsite) and a centrally located pump-handle water spigot. At first I kept seeing clouds of dust and thought the nearby dirt road was going to be an issue, then I realized it was the pine trees surrounding our campsite that were joyfully pollinating one another at an astounding rate. I cleaned off the solar panels every few hours and the paper towels came back smeared with bright yellow. My black windbreaker showed a...

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“As long as you have certain desires about how it ought to be, you can’t see how it is.” ~Ram Dass We left the trailer at the campsite and headed out to Medicine Lodge Archaeological Site. The day was gorgeous and warm but not too warm and the drive only took about an hour. Medicine Lodge had been on our list to camp, but we’d had to scrap it as an overnight spot when we had those brake issues. Fortunately, it worked out as a day trip and we viewed some incredible petroglyphs (some incised art carved into the wall of rock, and some “pecked” art—which is like 3-D pointillism that gives texture and shows the animal or human en toto). There were also pictographs (painted art, though very faded) on the rock walls of the canyon. It was awe inspiring to see such ancient art, the earliest of which dates to 2,500 years ago. While Len did some fly fishing for trout up Medicine Lodge Creek (he was itching to fish), I studied the rock art and walked the nature trail and even headed out a lonely hunting trail for about ¾ of a mile before it dawned on me that I was all alone below huge rock ledges and formations that would be the perfect den and/or hiding place for a mountain lion, which I knew they had in the area. As an individual hiker, I realized I probably looked more tasty than threatening, so I turned around and walked back to the more populated areas. Len had taken a radio and we’d agreed to check in at noon so I radioed him and he said he was having a great fishing day. I could hear the excitement in his voice (a beautiful sound) so we both agreed he should keep fishing and an hour later when we checked back, he was ready to come in so I met him walking back down Medicine Lodge Creek. He had caught a bunch of fish and kept two good-sized ones that measured just under the 16-inch upper size limit. We’ll cook them for tomorrow night’s dinner at our remote campsite on Prune Creek. We enjoyed a very delicious dinner in an old Speakeasy in the basement of the historic Hotel Greybull where decorations were period specific. Len especially enjoyed the salt and pepper shakers (many mismatched) on all the tables. I think a little Marie Pratt was showing through. And your random image of the day was taken from inside the visitor’s center, which was just an old log cabin with some info inside—arrowheads and grinding stones and the...

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“Very little on a fire rolls uphill.”  ~Larry Wright. I’ve been spending so much time on the recaps, I think that was part of my exhaustion, so I took 24 hours to NOT do anything on the Internet. Plus, Sprint is being mean to me so Internet has been a trial. Tonight I paid $10 extra for high-speed WiFi Internet at the campsite, so hopefully it will be faster with less painful uploads and wait times. (Edited to add: It was worse, if that is possible.) We left the Greybull Motel and drove to the Aerial Firefighting Museum (which confused me at first, because I thought it meant the Red Baron style of aerial firefighting, but soon figured out it meant fighting fires from the air). Len was giddy at the museum and I whispered, “This for you is like the dinosaurs for me.” He looked around at the old planes and the giant boneyard of aircraft in the back field and said, “These ARE dinosaurs.” Among the planes, we found an old P-2, which I’m posting for my brother Tyler, predecessor to his Navy P-3 aircraft. After the museum, we stopped at a small antique store on the way back to Greybull and bought a few small things. They had a fire hydrant from the Rensselaer Company out of Troy, NY. That one’s for my girls with their Troy connections. We stopped by a pizza place in downtown Greybull (Greybull has one stoplight, just like my hometown, so I felt right at home) and had a “Cowgirl” pizza which was pesto, sundried tomatoes, artichokes, feta, and fresh mozzarella. So good. After lunch, we checked in at the KOA in Greybull, disconnected from the trailer and drove around looking for trout streams to fish, then walked a mile or so on the berm that flanks the Bighorn River to keep excessive snowmelt from flooding the town. Then we drove more back roads and explored some non-touristy areas. Out on an old haul road, we followed signs to Devil’s Kitchen which turned out to be one of those spectacular, crazy places that are off the beaten path and you wouldn’t even know were there. I’m not sure what created the Devil’s Kitchen, but it sure looked like the remains of an old volcano, so sulfuric, irony, goblin-hobbit looking. Which begs the question: “What is cooking in the Devil’s Kitchen?” Deviled eggs? Devil’s food cake? Souls of the damned? It was also incredibly windy there. Scary-windy, since the edge was precipitous and crumbly. Len actually walked out on one of the knife edges and took a picture looking back at scaredy-cat-me...

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“Monsters are real, and ghosts are real, too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.” ~Stephen King We left the Worland RV Park, gassed up, got some foam strip from a local hardware store to beef up the foam on the inside rim of the tool box to keep road dust out, dropped some postcards at the post office, and headed to Red Gulch Dinosaur Tracks outside of Greybull, Wyoming and on BLM land. What a cool place! The tracks were discovered in 1997 by some hikers in the area. The first thing they noticed were the ripples of fossilized sand from an ancient beach. They notified someone at BLM and the paleontologists they called were thrilled—for lots of reasons. These tracks are in a wide area and tell them things about how dinosaurs move, their overall size and weight, that (these ones at least) likely traveled in social groups of different sizes, and more. They were also able to date them as being about 167 million years old (by the fossil layer above), which adds critical information to the dinosaur timeline in the US. There are so few North American fossil remains of dinosaurs from the Middle Jurassic that they don’t even know for sure what dinosaur made these tracks. It was some sort of three-toed Theropod that walked on two legs and ate meat, and that’s about all they know. These guys’ hips are estimated to be about as high as my ribcage and their stride was just at the limit of my stride. They walked at roughly 4mph across this sandy stretch. 167 million years ago, the Sundance Sea (located in the Ancient Big Horn Basin, which was actually closer to the equator back then, before the continents shifted, about where Cancun, Mexico is now, so very warm) dried up enough to leave algal, sandy edges which the dinosaurs walked through. When the water level rose again, the tracks were covered by silt and eventually hardened, preserving both the tracks and the sandy ripples in this wide area of rock dubbed The Ballroom by scientists, thereby conjuring up (for me at least) a group of waltzing dinosaurs. Walking in your footsteps Then the best thing of all—a personal highlight, for sure—was locating one Theropod’s track and walking in its footsteps from edge to edge, my footprints in his (or hers), shoes off so as not to damage the impressions in any way, but also to be as close to the ancient reptile as possible, while in my head, the deliciously haunting song “Walking in Your Footsteps” (The Police) played on. There were also a bunch...

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“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” ~Henry Ford We left the Worland RV Park (only for the day, trailer in-tow) to get back to the repair shop and let them fix a part of the wiring system that was isolated when the wires got ripped out. Len left me at the local McDonald’s which seemed to have the most reliable (free) WiFi in the area. I worked while surreptitiously watching the locals come in and razz one another and shoot the breeze. The woman behind the counter came out with a carafe of coffee and refilled their to-go cups—definitely not your usual McDonald’s atmosphere. It was much more like a small-town café. For the next three hours I got caught up on blog posts, did a little r.kv.r.y. work, and a bit of computer tidying up of the kind that becomes necessary when you’ve been offline for days and barely online for weeks. I’m still feeling really behind in terms of work responsibilities. Fortunately, I have very patient clients, patient literary journal contributors, a patient writing group, and a patient agent. At about noon, Len returned and I went back with him to the repair shop but they were off for lunch, so we opened the galley (chuckwagon!) and I made sandwiches while we waited for them to return. The issue continued for three hours this time as now four—count ‘em—FOUR expert mechanic shops have tried to diagnose this brake issue to no avail. These guys even gave Len a thermometer gun to register the actual amount the brakes were overheating (a good thing, actually, proof that they were HOT). After a couple miles of driving, he clocked the left brake at 101 degrees and the right one at 200. When you’re facing an unsolved/unresolved issue like this—especially one that involves safety—it runs constantly in the back of your brain, distracting you from the duties and pleasures of the moment. It’s like a computer that gets hung up on some process—CPU all being funneled to a program running in the background that may or may not be a destructive virus. We would like to do a reset, please. Ctrl Alt Delete. At around 3pm, Wyoming showed us her WILD side. Hellacious winds kicked up so that we couldn’t even see the road in places for the storm of dust accompanied by lightning, thunder, hail, and finally buckets of rain. Through it all the wind howled, with (we later learned) gusts of up to 80mph. When it started, it was 83 degrees out. A half an hour later, is was 57...

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