Sunset over Belvoir Ranch

Sunset over Belvoir Ranch

Stillwater, October 20, 2015

I spend far too much time driving these days.

When we moved to Stillwater, I thought we’d go to Town once a week at the most–maybe even less. But that was before my mom moved to Cheyenne, and before I realized I’d underestimated the toll moving would take on my friendships. I don’t see people nearly as often as I’d like, and I miss our casual get-togethers. These days, what used to be casual visits have become major expeditions, and I’m lucky if I get home in time to catch the sunset.

Sunset over Foley's Pond

Sunset over Foley’s Pond

Our neighbors agree: the hardest thing about living in the country is going to Town. I’d be quite happy to stay out here at Stillwater, puttering around the house, playing in the garden, and exploring the woods, but survival still depends on frequent forays to Cheyenne for groceries and supplies.

Long Road Ahead, Threatening Skies

Long Road, Threatening Skies

Fortunately, I love to drive, and the trip offers the best of both driving worlds–about ten miles of dirt and gravel roads for fun, and a nice stretch of highway for speed. And the scenery is terrific, even if the weather’s not always ideal.

Little Llamas in Pajamas

Little Llamas in Pajamas

One thing that never fails to cheer me up the alpaca farm I pass on my way to Cheyenne. These “little llamas in pajamas” always seem to be smiling as they watch us pass by. One of these days I’m going to lose the battle to control myself, and become the crazy lady who pulls over and tries to lure an alpaca over for a hug. They’re just so cute and snuggly, even when they’ve just been shorn!

Little House, Big Sky

Little House, Big Sky

I also love this little house, which stands out so bravely against the lowering Wyoming sky. It played a strange and complicated role in inspiring my first book. The plot of Cowboy Trouble deviated so far from the original story I spun about the place, there’s no point in going into details, but I say a silent thank you every time I pass by.

You never know what’s going to happen on the way to Town, or what neighborly assistance might be required. Once in a while, I stop and return escaped horses to their pasture, and we occasionally find lost dogs who need to be reunited with their owners. The other day, we ran across a couple of cows grazing by the side of the road.

They were supposed to be behind that fence, not in front of it.

Bovines, Ahoy!

Bovines, Ahoy!

We were driving my Outback, a daring and intrepid car, but still–it’s a car, not a sturdy, resilient quarter horse. And these were big cows. I wasn’t about to get out and lead them home;  they looked remarkably determined as they grazed on the tall grass. It’s always greener on the other side, you know.

But my husband is the kind of person you want for a neighbor, the kind who’s always willing to help a friend.

He’s not necessarily the guy you want driving your car.

Not a Happy Heifer

Not a Happy Heifer

Turning the Outback around, he plunged off the road and into the tall grass. The car bucked and leapt, the cows lowed and trotted hither and yon, but eventually he managed to steer them toward the break in the fence while I clutched the dash, white-knuckled.

I was a little nervous as the mighty bovines eked their way between the strands of barbed wire they’d managed to separate; if they’d hurt themselves, Scrape would probably have insisted on doctoring the critters, and we never would have made it to Town.

Mended Fences

Mended Fences

But Elsie and Bossy had obviously done this before. Once they made it through, Scrape got out and fixed the fence, and then, finally, we were on our way. The two heifers watched us, their baleful glares filled with resentment.

We see other sorts of wildlife on our trips to town, including this very dignified turkey vulture, who is drying his wings after a storm. We stopped to watch him as he made occasional quarter-turns to adjust the angle of the sun on his feathers.

Turkey Vulture, Rainy Day

Turkey Vulture, Rainy Day

And I suppose that’s what we all have to do occasionally – adjust the angle of the sun on our own metaphorical feathers so we can fly another day. So tomorrow, once again, I’ll mosey into town for some shopping, some visiting, and some scenic driving, and to see what adventures I can find along the way.