Baby It's Cold Outside

Today it is cold -  very cold, high of 0, yep zero, zilch, no degrees at all. Wind chill tonight will dip to 40 below.
When this happens in Wyoming we say, "feels like a touch of winter in the air."

I know, I know, by now you are all feeling very bad for me. But before you do I might mention that in my part of Wyoming I still was able to play golf seven days in December. Most years I play in every month, other years I miss playing in January. And, I will play with a light sweatshirt but if I need more than that, no golf. We do get lots of nice colder weather hiking in though.

If you are in my part of the country, bundle up and stay warm. 

Happy New Year!

Saw this Guy a Couple of Blocks From Home Today

Cedar Wax Wing Looking Out at Winter
I Am Not Cold - But Was I Supposed to Fly South?

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas. I hope everyone has a great day! We had much family celebrating with us - a most wonderful day.

Ten Photos I Wanted to Use This Year

Thought it might be fun to post a few photos I didn't use this year. Here are ten that I really like but didn't get a chance to use on my blogs this year. For two of these I even slipped out of state. Kind of my year in photos I didn't post. 

Laramie Range Sunset

North Platte River
Laramie High Plains Windmill
Fort Laramie
Pronghorn on the Green - Rawlins
Chimney Rock on the Trail West
Around the Corner from Rushmore
Buffalo Near Esterbrook
First of the Year - Back Yard Garden
Boot Hill - Hartville, Wyoming

Snow at Last

Now that summer is officially over with snow yesterday and last night, guess I can get into my normal grumpy winter mood. Here in the cowboy state we get most of our yearly moisture in the form of snow. It reminded me of this line from a C. J. Box book -

Wyomingites, Joe had observed, didn't know what to do when it rained except get out of it, watch it through the window, and wait for it to go away.” C. J. Box Open Season

With snow on the ground today, I couldn't wait to get outside. By afternoon the wind was gone, the sun peek-a-booed in and out and the temperature went to 30. Another great day out west.

The Colors of a Wyoming Winter

Winter looks like it has reached us here in Wyoming. The days have still been pretty pleasant and only a bit of snow has fallen but the landscape has taken on the look of winter. We live in a wonderful, more temperate, part of the state but that hasn't kept Mother Nature from painting everything with brown and gray. If you take the time to look around it is still possible to find some natural color and beauty, even if it is December.

For many people winter is a time to stay inside, I like going out into the cool weather. I find the stark landscape this time of year much to my liking, until spring that is. Here are a few shots I took this week.
Sun Splashed Pine and Ice on the River
A Study in Reflection
Fawn in Tall Grass

Dinner Time
Going South
A Winter Day
Winter Color
Tiny Cedar illuminated  by the Setting Sun -Christmas Tree

and finally

Stark in any Season

What a Sweet Couple

My wife would say, “oh what a sweet couple,” and they are.
What am I talking about?
There is a nice pair of Bald Eagles in the park, eagles commonly mate for life and both of these are mature adults, maybe we will have some babies in March.
Eagles are not as disturbed by human’s this time of year as they are in spring and summer, but never the less, I stayed well back, these photos are from about 300 yards, maybe a bit more.
Upper Left the Female and Lower Right the Male 
The Female - they are larger by about 25% than the Male
Male Bald Eagle

The Six Week Governor

George W. Baxter settled in Wyoming, after a degree from West Point and three years as a Calvary officer at Wyoming’s fort D. A. Russell. He spent his first three years in private business, trying to start a range cattle operation of which he knew nothing and didn’t seem to be well adapted to cowboy life.

Governor Baxter
But then came politics.  Baxter was appointed, at age 31, to be the territorial governor of Wyoming with the helpful influence of southern democratic friends, not by anyone in Wyoming. When Wyoming’s delegation in Washington got to work and he was forced out after six short weeks in office. Baxter traveled to Washington to protest but to no avail.  Baxter served his very short term from November 11 to December 20, 1886, four years before Wyoming became a state.

There is a funny story in Charles Guernsey’s book, Wyoming Cowboy Days, which shows Baxter was not only a poor choice for governor of a western territory, but also appalling at politics in general. Guernsey, who was a most influential politician in his day, was asked by Baxter during a chance meeting on the street if he was for or against a certain, soon to be introduced, bill. When Guernsey said he was against it, Baxter asked how much it would cost to have him for it. Guernsey, saying that Baxter, “didn’t know any better,” laughed it off, taking no offense with Baxter or his awkward attempt to bribe him.

Maybe six weeks as governor was plenty!

When Baxter resigned from office he was replaced by another short term governor Elliot S. N. Morgan, Morgan served for thirty-five days before being replaced by Thomas Moonlight. Interestingly this was the second time that Morgan served as governor having served for 46 days in 1885 after the death of Governor William Hale. 
Wyoming may have been better off without Moonlight, see my blog post on him here.


Might be a Wintery Thanksgiving in Wyoming

Nice snow during the night makes it look more like Christmas than Thanksgiving. Weatherman says it will be 60s by Friday. Hope he is correct as I am not yet ready for winter.
Oh, but I am ready for some football, and Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving weekend always offer plenty.
Took a few photos this morning of our, "Thanksgiving snow, 2014."

North Platte River near the Oregon Trail

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Not Sure but did this train bring in the winter? Actually I enjoy the contrast of the starkness of winter and the bright train color
Winter comes to a North Platte River Canyon



By the middle of the 1700s the great herds of bison that roamed America were estimated to be at least 60 million, and possibly as many as 100 million. But in less than a century that number was reduced to a few hundred. Many causes can be found as to why the buffalo were nearly wiped out. Certainly, drought had much to do with it, and the hide hunters, and (sport?) hunters killed hundreds of thousands. But did you know?
Buffalo on the Spit

For more than a century Wyoming bison were killed by the tribes for many and in some cases most of their needs. When the mountain men/trappers brought European trade goods everything changed.  Indians started hunting buffalo as an economic benefit for themselves and their tribes. For the first time they began killing bison for their hides and tongues which they then exchanged for trade goods. By the 1840s, the number of hides prepared for trade was far more than could ever be used by the tribes.

 One estimate guesses that Native Indians were using/eating only four out of every 100 bison they were killing as more and more American and European trade goods reached the tribes. In 1839, the American Fur Company bought 45,000 buffalo robes and in 1840, 67,000 more. All of this was before the coming of the famous buffalo hunters of the plains that slaughtered the buffalo by the tens of thousands.

Thanks to a few forward looking people, starting in 1881, today there are nearly 400,000 bison, once again, in North American.



They weigh around a ton
Stand 6 feet tall at the hump 
From nose to tail are about 11 feet long
They can run for short distances as fast as 35 Mph
Reach mature full size at about 7 years of age
Can live 30 years or more

Skinning Mules and Whacking Bulls

So easy for us today to go to the store and buy just about anything we want. A drive on any interstate will allow you to quickly see how all those goods get there every day. Trucks and trains and in some cases planes move our goods today, making sure I can grab a fresh pineapple on a cold snowy November day in Wyoming. But how did they do it in the old days, the really old days?  Mule Skinners and Bull Whackers moved the goods.

From about 1825, freighters started moving goods to outlying settlements and forts. When the 1860s came, with the transcontinental railroad, the freighting business became one of the busiest in the west. Freighters moved goods from and too the railroad, supplying goods needed for expansion and settlement of the new west.

Freighters, for protection and because of the amount of goods needed, traveled in huge slow moving overland trains. These trains consisted of two dozen or more wagons, each carrying as much as three tons of goods. The wagons were pulled by huge teams of six pair of oxen or several pair of mules, depending on the weight of the freight.   Not fast but most efficient.
Train Stopped for the Day

Mule Drivers were known as mule-skinners and the oxen drivers as bull-whackers, all using their bull whips most efficiently to nip black flies away from the oxen and mules. This slow but efficient way to move goods allowed the new citizens of the west to buy the same coffee, canned peaches and yards of calico that were offered on the two coasts. It lasted into the 1900s until motor trucks and better roads allowed for the bull-whackers and mule-skinners to die off in favor of truck drivers.

Wyoming Winter

With winter coming to Wyoming, finally, weather app says we will be below zero by the middle of the week. All this after having one of the longest and best falls in many Wyoming years.
Back Yard this Morning
Saturday afternoon I watched a high school football game in shirtsleeves and the golf course is still green and playable.
I thought I might reflect a bit on winters past and how the original and early settlers made it through the tough, and often starving times.

        Early inhabits were wanderers and found campsites with terrific southern exposer for winter. Some parts of Wyoming are warmer than others, some much warmer. Where I live our deck with southern and eastern exposer warms quickly on most days throughout the winter. Many mornings with a 20s reading on the thermometer I sit and read most comfortably on the deck. That was the key, sunny exposer and a site that block the north and west winds.

Shelters, teepees or lean-tos were erected close to north walls, with a hide covered dirt floor and a most efficient fire pit in the middle. Hides were drawn down tight in the winter and often sealed with dirt from the teepee floor.  

Still not our natural gas or electric furnaces of today but they made it through, somehow. The key to winter in 1800s was preparation, storing away food, lots of blankets and robes and a place with sunshine and water.

Tiny Waterfall May be Ice in a Few Days
As for me I think I like the idea of a warm house and plenty of food for the winter. People of the olden days were much tougher than me.





A New, The Virginian

 Noticed a new, “The Virginian,” is out, this one with country music star Trace Adkins playing the lead role. This follows the, made for TV, Bill Pullman version a few years ago. I know of four other versions of this classic western tail.

Dustin Furman in the first version in 1914

Kenneth Harlan – 1923

Garry Cooper – 1929

Joel McCrea – 1946

There were also two television series based on the Owen Wister novel of cowboying in early Wyoming. The first with James Drury ran for many episodes over eight years in the sixties. The second only made it for a year, 1970, with Stuart Granger as the lead.


Never liked the term, Wyomingite, doesn’t sound nearly as good as Texan, Nebraskan or Arizonian. Might be a few other ite states out there, but off hand I can’t think of any. Must be why we call ourselves the Cowboy State, which at least to me, sounds pretty cool and we can say we are Cowboys, even if we are not.
Cowboy Football
The state of Wyoming was nearly named Lincoln but that name was voted down when a few senators decided that since no other states were named after a president it would be inappropriate to name the cowboy state Lincoln. Washington, at the time was only a territory and it was believed that name would be changed, if and when it became a state.

Funny, but I believe the fine people of Lincoln, Nebraska, very near where I grew up, refer to themselves as Lincolnites.

Guess when I moved away from Nebraska, over three decades ago, I was destined to be an ite, no matter what.
Why I Love Being a Wyomingite

Caught Red-Handed

Joe LeFors
Caught Red-Handed

 I remember hearing, many years ago, the phrase, “caught red-handed,” and it can still be heard on the occasional old western. I am sure I have used that phrase, knowing it meant caught in the act. But where did it come from? There may be a host of stories to match up with, “caught Red-handed,” but I really like this Wyoming version.

Legendary Wyoming lawman, Joe LeFors, instrumental in the solving of the Tom Horn murder of Willie Nickell, may have, according to Wyoming folklore, coined the phrase. Before telling that story I should mention that LeFors is legendary because of his own bragging about how great a lawman he was. Several lawman of the day called his a braggart and incompetent lawmen. But this still is a nice story.

Seems that LeFors watched with binoculars as a poor homesteader butchered someone else’s yearling cow. He waited until the beef was gutted and the rustler was quartering the animal for transportation before he rode in. The man was hacking away with an old knife and LeFors told him he was caught, “red-handed,” because of the blood all over his arms, hands and shirt.

Could be true, maybe not, but it’s still a great story.

Maybe the homesteader was after this one - could have fed the family for a few weeks
As an afterthought note. LeFors rode home with the rustler and after seeing how destitute he and the family were told him he would be back in, “a few days,” to pick him up. LeFors may or may not have ever went back. The man was never arrested and the homestead was abandoned by the time anyone took the time to ride out and check.
Landscape north of town - taken from Brimmer Point - Guernsey State Park

Home In Wyoming

Maybe that's the best part of going away for a vacation-coming home again.” ―  Madeleine L'Engle, Meet the Austins

It is always nice to be back home. For me two weeks away is too much. I love to see and experience new places, always learn a lot. But am always ready to get back home usually after a few days.

Have you ever noticed how plain things around you are? Then you go away and come back, and everything looks extraordinary. If for no other reason that is a good argument to take a vacation. We didn’t go far, not by today’s standards, but for us quite a trip. But being home, back home in Wyoming, nothing beats it, even after a small trip.

The highlights? The Vicksburg Mississippi Battlefield National Park, and a riverboat ride in Branson Missouri.
Part of the Union Line at Vicksburg
Took a ride on a riverboat in Branson
Questions I would like answered from my trip.

1.    Are there any live armadillos? I sure saw a lot of road killed ones. I have a theory that all armadillos are dead and there are no live ones, not sure but could be – maybe not.

2.   Are speed limits just a suggestion? Sure seems that way.

3.   Does Louisiana have more trees per acre than any other state?

-New to me, food, on this trip-

1. Jambalaya – not bad, surprised me, I kind of liked it

2. Southern Blackened Chicken – too hot for this ol’ Cowboy

3. *Fried Pies at Turner Falls, Oklahoma – now we’re talking, very good

The red beans and rice with cornbread was good both times I tried it, as always.

*Not my first rodeo here, love this place.

        Well there it is vacation report – Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and Oklahoma. Now its home until February.
Back home - North Platte River 5 blocks south.

“How often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.”  William Faulkner



Me and Bill Nye

Bill Nye, as frequent readers of this blog know, is one of my all-time favorite Wyomingites. His columns, written over one hundred years ago still make me smile. On June 1, 1877 his column topic was a recent Laramie jail break. Never one to miss a chance at humor, he picked on not the jail breakers but the people that were worried that something might happen to them because of the jail break. The old, they might come to my house idea. Below are excerpts from his column.

“Different rumors pervaded the town last evening between the hours of 8 p.m. and 10. Some had understood that the jailor had been struck in the cerebellum, others that he was struck in the act of locking the iron gate. It was earnestly reported at one time that the court house had been surrounded by a large Russian force, and that some were rushin’ in and others rushin’ out.”

“He ends the column as only Bill Nye could. “Two hundred and eleven women looked under two hundred and eleven beds before retiring, and the man of the house put his trusty Smith and Wesson under his pillow where it wouldn’t be stolen. During the still hours of the night he would feel that he must shoot somebody, and as a slight noise greeted his ear he would creep to the door and shoot a hole in the rain-water barrel.”

I have twice used a photo of Edgar Wilson, ‘Bill,’ Nye, so thought you might enjoy a Wyoming sunset – I took this photo about seven this evening.