Saturday, October 31, 2009

See, we DO have some kind of wildlife here in Lander! Ha! I'm still waiting for once to walk down the center of town...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I'm not a huge fan of poetry but...

This one is kinda cool...

Pioneers! O Pioneers! by Walt Whitman

COME my tan-faced children,
Follow well in order, get your weapons ready,
Have you your pistols? have you your sharp-edged axes?
Pioneers! O pioneers!

For we cannot tarry here,
We must march my darlings, we must bear the brunt of danger,
We the youthful sinewy races, all the rest on us depend,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

O you youths, Western youths,
So impatient, full of action, full of manly pride and friendship,
Plain I see you Western youths, see you tramping with the foremost,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Have the elder races halted?
Do they droop and end their lesson, wearied over there beyond the
We take up the task eternal, and the burden and the lesson,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

All the past we leave behind,
We debouch upon a newer mightier world, varied world,
Fresh and strong the world we seize, world of labor and the march,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

We detachments steady throwing,
Down the edges, through the passes, up the mountains steep,
Conquering, holding, daring, venturing as we go the unknown ways,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

We primeval forests felling,
We the rivers stemming, vexing we and piercing deep the mines
We the surface broad surveying, we the virgin soil upheaving,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Colorado men are we,
From the peaks gigantic, from the great sierras and the high
From the mine and from the gully, from the hunting trail we come,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

From Nebraska, from Arkansas,
Central inland race are we, from Missouri, with the continental
blood intervein'd,
All the hands of comrades clasping, all the Southern, all the
Pioneers! O pioneers!

O resistless restless race!
O beloved race in all! O my breast aches with tender love for all!
O I mourn and yet exult, I am rapt with love for all,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Raise the mighty mother mistress,
Waving high the delicate mistress, over all the starry mistress,
(bend your heads all,)
Raise the fang'd and warlike mistress, stern, impassive, weapon'd
Pioneers! O pioneers!

See my children, resolute children,
By those swarms upon our rear we must never yield or falter,
Ages back in ghostly millions frowning there behind us urging,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

On and on the compact ranks,
With accessions ever waiting, with the places of the dead quickly
Through the battle, through defeat, moving yet and never stopping,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

O to die advancing on!
Are there some of us to droop and die? has the hour come?
Then upon the march we fittest die, soon and sure the gap is fill'd.
Pioneers! O pioneers!

All the pulses of the world,
Falling in they beat for us, with the Western movement beat,
Holding single or together, steady moving to the front, all for us,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Life's involv'd and varied pageants,
All the forms and shows, all the workmen at their work,
All the seamen and the landsmen, all the masters with their slaves,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

All the hapless silent lovers,
All the prisoners in the prisons, all the righteous and the wicked,
All the joyous, all the sorrowing, all the living, all the dying,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

I too with my soul and body,
We, a curious trio, picking, wandering on our way,
Through these shores amid the shadows, with the apparitions
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Lo, the darting bowling orb!
Lo, the brother orbs around, all the clustering suns and planets,
All the dazzling days, all the mystic nights with dreams,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

These are of us, they are with us,
All for primal needed work, while the followers there in embryo wait
We to-day's procession heading, we the route for travel clearing,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

O you daughters of the West!
O you young and elder daughters! O you mothers and you wives!
Never must you be divided, in our ranks you move united,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Minstrels latent on the prairies!
(Shrouded bards of other lands, you may rest, you have done your
Soon I hear you coming warbling, soon you rise and tramp amid us,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Not for delectations sweet,
Not the cushion and the slipper, not the peaceful and the studious,
Not the riches safe and palling, not for us the tame enjoyment,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Do the feasters gluttonous feast?
Do the corpulent sleepers sleep? have they lock'd and bolted doors?
Still be ours the diet hard, and the blanket on the ground,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Has the night descended?
Was the road of late so toilsome? did we stop discouraged nodding
on our way?
Yet a passing hour I yield you in your tracks to pause oblivious,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Till with sound of trumpet,
Far, far off the daybreak call-hark! how loud and clear I hear it
Swift! to the head of the army!-swift! spring to your places,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

It may take three hours and many tedious stops at construction sites, and if the weather gets bad you may have to dig into the emergency rations you keep in the trunk of your car, but our commute to our airport (Jackson Hole) is totally worth it.

As seen on the drive to the airport

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Killpecker Sand Dunes

Between Lander and Rock Springs, nestled in the west half of the Great Divide Basin, lay the Killpecker Sand Dunes. While not large and imposing like those in the Sahara, Killpecker (yes, named for what the water in the area did to a man thirsty enough to drink it) are still daunting and more than a little intense. As we ascended the ones nearest our camps, we watched in silent awe as our footprints disappeared all too quickly behind us. The dunes were changing as we watched, slipping and sliding and eroding away into nothingness, the sand stinging out legs and arms and eyes as it whizzed and whirred past us, only to be reassembled as a new and mighty anthill in another part of the small valley. The constantly rolling sand keeps the top layer from roasting in the sun, and the sand was cool and refreshing on our bare soles.

We feel as if the wind will blow us over, whittling away minuscule pieces of us as if we were merely dry earth, recreating us as part of another dune. As we stand, snuggling our toes into the dunes, our toes, our feet, our ankles disappear into the shifting sand. The world is moving, changing right in front of us, and all we can so is blink against the bitter bite of a mini-sand storm. Swirling hair, tugging clothes, the sound of tiny rocks working their way into camera parts and clothing.

By the time we returned to the tent, it had begun to create its own little sand dune. The wind had picked up infinitesimal bits of rock and crystal and salt from one end, whittling away at the poles’ edges and ends, and deposited the sand into small, scooped piles, mini dunes huddling against the wind. I wondered if this was how each of these ephemeral dunes was made… a small plant or a piece of wood or the remnants of an ill-placed oil well provided the foundations for what would become one of the most powerful forces in nature. Sand dunes are always changing and drifting and reshaping against the will of the landscape and of the people eking out a living in these harsh conditions. They tear down rocks and fill in creeks and stop wildfires and demolish homes and farms and wells. They can change so entirely overnight that unwary backpackers can all at once find themselves in virgin territory, without footprints or familiar breadcrumbs with which to tramp their way home. The BLM has on several occasions been called upon to rescue a wayward hiker who, despite executing a sophisticated plan by which to remember the way back to the car, woke up at first light only to realize he had no idea where he was.

Despite the emptiness of the desert, Killpecker is home to one of the few herds of desert elk, who take comfort in the fact that the unwelcoming dunes often discourage even the most seasoned of hunters. Desert mice visited us in the night, curious about our camp stove and searching in vain for any leftovers from our evening meal. Coyotes, too, individuals and in packs, yipped and yodeled and frolicked a peaceful cacophony of melodies, working themselves into a frenzy and quickly becoming exhausted of their rousing choruses, only to begin anew in the next hour. Even the stars seemed to celebrate the night in Killpecker, shining in a bright harmony of twinkles, each one in a sky of billions chasing the undaunted moon across the horizon.

Killpecker Sand Dunes

The Photojournal:

Courtesy of Jonmikel; one of the best shots taken

Courtesy of Jonmikel

Courtesy of Jonmikel

Saturday, October 10, 2009


What else can you really say about the Killpecker Sand Dunes?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Keeping Up With News? No Thanks!

I really do try to stay up on politics. I have been spoiled enough in my lifetime to enjoy a very international eduction, to travel and study and learn about the world first hand. I always have an (often controversial) opinion at every dinner party and over every glass of wine. I have tried to keep up with the news, read NPCA press releases, follow seemingly-important Tweets.

But quite honestly, there's something about waking up in the morning and, from the comfort of your warm blankets, looking out your window and up into some of the most rugged mountains the Lower 48, now snow-covered and daunting and dangerously enticing, that makes you completely forget that there is a whole world out there beyond your wilderness. The Lander Valley is more than a geographical bowl in the middle of Wyoming, it's an entire lifestyle bubble. News is easily accessible, and yet you just can't rouse your interest in it when your escape from it is only minutes away. Educated people know nothing, and worldly people become Wyoming yocals; experience means nothing here, only your ability to cut down trees for winter warmth.

Monday, October 5, 2009

First Snow in Lander: October 5, 2009

Up until there was a whole foot of snow on the ground, the National Weather Service swore up and down that accumulation would be less than an inch. Apparently, no one got it in his head to go outside and look for himself...

What do weatherpeople know about life in the Rockies, anyway?

The Winter Weather Advisory turned into a Winter Storm Warning, and roads went from "clear" to "closed," and all roads leading away from Lander were shut down. And here I was beginning to think I was the Anti-Winter...