Friday, May 28, 2010

Rual Wyoming...wait is that redundant?

I woke up to a bright light in the dead of night. Pete the park ranger was checking to make sure that I paid for my campsite at Keyhole Lake. I'm a few days past the need of a shower, and my now fire red head is a grease ball. I also have lots of crap piled in my car and may appear homeless. He asked me how long I planned on staying, he remembered me from three other nights. I explained I was a biologist studying birds which got him excited and chatty while I looked down to see if I was even wearing decent clothes. I had on my Mylie Cyrus $3-on-sale-Walmart mini skirt, and a t-shirt.

After getting just a couple hours sleep, I drove to my bird point off Highway 14 and walked across a grassy field with mud puddles, climbing over a few barbed wire fences. I disturb pronghorn all the time, and they grunt at me which sort of sounds like an armpit fart.

It is getting a little boring counting meadowlarks, but it has to be done. I walked as quickly as I could in between points to get the transect over with quickly. I then headed to Moorcroft to check if my paycheck was automatically deposited. I tried filling my car with gas, and it worked. I had a nice breakfast of biscuits and gravy with an egg over easy and bacon on the side. I had gone hungry the night before having put my last $10 in the iron ranger to camp and having taken back my camp stove to Walmart earlier that week for the much needed money. I spent a few hours in the library while a librarian with a British accent keeping an eye on me wondering why I lingered so long, I did some paperwork and read some more magazines. The ones that rural libraries subscribe to are pretty funny. Usually they have all the quilt magazines, a few on farming and livestock, and "Country Woman". Pink on the cover of Cosmo really stood out and I grabbed that one, having already read all the other ones at libraries across the state. There is a great article about raising chickens in city areas in "Organic Farming" by the way.

I had to drive sixty miles today to my next bird point, and never left a red gravel road covered in black cows, the North East corner of Wyoming is extremely remote, I only saw one truck on that road. The isolation from buildings, people, and my cell service really got me down. The dead town of Rocky Point is just a cemetery, after that the gravel road turned to clay and was rough to drive on with my three inches of clearance in my small car. Ruts carved the hardened mud causing me to have to balance on top of them. The ranch I was driving to was so remote, that I had to drive through Montana to get there, going through the small "town" of Ridge, MT...complete with a homemade sign proudly displaying "Population 2" in front of a red barn. I took a right and got lost trying to find my ranch.

I stopped at a pretty ranch house and boldly knocked on a screen door in my Census job sort of courage. I introduced myself to a ranch wife who was very friendly and surprised to have company. She said she was horrible with directions and we went out to the barn to find her husband while a teenage boy in chaps looked at me, standing next to a saddled horse. A man as leathery as his chaps came out to see what was going on. He finally smiled when I mentioned his neighbor's name and that I was looking for the right road leading to his ranch. He looked at my maps and gave me detailed directions down to an airplane hanger on the left of the road. They laughed when I asked if I was in Wyoming, and said I was still in Montana. The rancher looked at my little car and wished me good luck driving down to my point in my "puddle jumper". I joked that it couldn't even jump puddles and left, praying that it wouldn't rain.

I took a nice road, built with money as free flowing as the oil that paid for it, for seventeen miles into Wyoming and one man's ranch. At the end of the road was an oil field with beautiful spring flowers and dozens of oil wells making grinding sounds all around me. I cleaned up my car, gave myself a pedicure while sitting among the flowers, and had a peanut butter, walnut, and Nutella sandwich. I didn't hike out to my far away point to camp, even though there wasn't a cloud in the sky, because I had a feeling that I shouldn't...

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