Arriving at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the jumping off point to the Park, We saw, for the first time, the majesty of the Teton Range.The most beautiful view in America, I have always thought since then. My fascination with the Tetons has lasted a lifetime, and I have driven back up there on more that one occasion, alone, and camped in the shadow of those mountains. Just looking. If you ever need inspiration, that's the place.
We decided to hike around Jenny lake. It didn't take long to begin seeing lots of Elk and Deer. Barbara was just beginning to feel the effects of being pregnant, and she totally gave out three quarters of the way around. I found a campground I thought would be safe for her, left her there, and continued on around to collect the car. I stepped out into the highway, at just the wrong moment without looking behind, and a very fast car brushed my shirtsleeve, one of those "near death" moments. The first thought that flashed through my mind was, "What in the world would Barbara do, up here alone, with me dead on the roadside"? Nowadays, in foreign countries, the question is different. How would I get back home without Barbara? I fully realize Barbara would have no trouble getting home alone. But me, I have doubts about. Very tired, we continued on into Yellowstone, and found a real campground.
The next day, we took a leisure day and drove around Yellowstone. The loop around was very different then. The traffic was light, in spite of the fact we were there during a peak vacation time. This was totally unlike my last summer trip through here, when this loop was one big dusty parking lot. Many large animals still roamed the roadsides on that first trip. Not the least of which were the Bears. We passed a brown bear, trudging along the road. We parked and went back. He was surrounded by tourists, and seemed to pay no attention to them at all. At least, not until Barbara walked up. He stopped, looked at her and, growling, made a three or four step run at her. She screamed and made a couple of dozen step run for the car. Very fast. I don't know what it is about Barbara, but big animals just seem to single her out and do that. Some don't stop at four steps. An Alpaka, a large Ram, and countless others. She always bolts for the car. Some of them turned out to be big pets. These were the only times I have ever truly appreciated just how fast she can run. But how do you know the animal's intentions? Best to run first, ask questions later.
We passed a big Black Bear, walking slowly along the roadside. We pulled ahead, stopped, but stayed in the car this time. He walked up to my side of the car and stood up, putting his front paws on top of the car, and looked in at me. I was feverishly trying to roll up the window and start the car, while Barbara was feverishly snapping pictures. Good Grief! He probably was just begging for a snack, as he had become accustomed to. But in my mind, he was looking for a big meal. A very big meal.
We just drove by and pictured, after that, and kept our distance. Heading out of Yellowstone, starting our last leg into the mountains of Montana, a minor disaster struck. Our clutch cable broke. I finally managed to tie a piece of rope onto the cable, and secured it to the clutch. We were still a long way from any help. Driving very gingerly, and seldom clutching, we limped into brother Harold's town.
Harold was in the Air Force, a radar tech. He and Lou also treated us royally for a few days, while we waited for our new clutch cable to come in.
Deer were everywhere. We saw dozens every day. And, Trout just fought each other to be the first on my hook. But it was cold. Seemed like winter almost, and it was still June. My legs, without any boots, just froze, wading those trout streams.
Wintertime was a very bad scene in Montana, they said. One of their neighbors went out to feed his cattle in a snowstorm, and just never came back.
Our new clutch cable arrived, and we nearly filled a large ice chest with trout, covered it with dry ice, and headed out. I have few memories about the trip back, partly because we were in a going home mode now, partly because we were out on those endless plains quickly. We did drive by Little Big Horn, and paid our respects to General Custer. I'm sure we camped somewhere, nothing else was possible. No more family in between us and Fayetteville. I do know we scraped together our last few dollars and pennies to fill the car up that last time, which cost nearly five dollars. We did prove $200 was sufficient for a 5000 mile, two week+ trip, if you have family scattered around at intervals. At least, it was in the summer of 1968.
That was the first of many long trips on a shoestring, for Barbara and I. We did more, much shorter, when the kids were larger, But it was never a quiet, leisurely trip. A constant battle. Pinches, pokes, gouges, and hitting, with "Mama! He's looking at me again!" ringing in our ears. That just seemed to dull our wanderlust, somewhat, for many years. But it would come back with a vengeance, later. Kinley once asked, "When we were little, and we went on a trip, it was to the nearest lake, for a camp out. After we were grown, you now go all over the world. Now, why is that?"
The End Thanks for your time, and your attention. Guess What! I am going to officially be published in August. My story can be seen in August by going to arkansas life.com Look under the flip builder viewing of the magazine, page eleven. About the Wing Community Church.. The July issue is still up until sometime in early August. I'm still waiting to hear from the University of Arkansas press for their decision on my book, "Spreading Wing." My fingers are still crossed, but I think they are beginning to grow together.