Saturday, July 25, 2015


Some Days Are Like That

Cheyenne, Wyoming,  7/25/2015:  There's nothing quite like it.  Rodeo is supposed to be a competition among cowboys to see who's best at doing what cowboys do.  Of course, what you see in the arena may be a bit larger than real life, but that's OK because it's more fun than a least for the fans.

   This is the great Cheyenne rodeo's 119th year.  We spent the day there--first at the big parade and then out at the arena.  I'm not going to get too wordy here; we'll just let the pictures speak for themselves..mostly.

   That's how it's supposed to be done.

 That isn't.

You think that feels good?  Check his face.

Or his..

That bull has evil intentions.

So does that one.

Back to work.  Catch the critter..

Got what?

    Git 'im down and hog-tied for branding, that's what.  This is a good study of how the horse and the rider work together.  The horse's job at this point is to keep the rope (lariat) taut so the calf can't move away from the rider.  It works out, generally.

    This doesn't look like much fun, either.  The rider is diving off his horse to catch the steer by the horns to rassle him to the ground.  This can produce interesting results (see top picture).


   Nobody ever said a cowboy's life was bed of roses, but these guys make it look way too hard.  

   They are the cream of the crop, though, and among all the chills and spills that make such fun pictures, you see performances that make you wonder how in the world they can do that.  They're like professional golfers: if I could hit a ball the way they hit a ball on their worst days, I'd be doing pretty good.  Same with professional cowboys.

   It's also well to keep in mind that the animals are athletes, too.  They are trained for rodeo..records are kept of their performances.  And they are really smart..some might even call them cunning.

   Ride 'im, Cowboy.

   Ride 'im.


JS.  7/25/2015

Friday, July 24, 2015

Old Cheyenne

Union Pacific Statement

Cheyenne, Wyoming. 7/24/2015:  Cheyenne is a railroad town, most definitely not a cow town.  It was created and settled by Union Pacific in the 1800s to be its operations hub on the high plains. Later, it also became the maintenance center for the giant steam locomotives UP drove over the Rockies.  When you drive into town down the Lincolnway, you get an idea of just how large the yards must have been.  They still are is that building you see up there.  It's a terminal that makes a statement.  Construction started in 1886 and finished in 1888.  It is positioned smack-dab at the end of the boulevard that leads to the state capitol.  Union Pacific officials wanted legislators to look out the window and see just how important the UP was/is to Cheyenne and the state.  It does a good job.

   Don't confuse "railroad town" with something it isn't.  Before Cheyenne had a thousand citizens it had 26 saloons.  Famous gunfighters like Wild Bill Hickok  hung out here; so did Tom Horn, the last man hung legally in Wyoming.  There were gunfights, brawls and bordellos..and the Doctors sold coffins.

   Things really got interesting when they started the rodeo, but that's another story.

   Needless to say, it's one of my favorite spots, so I brought my new bride, Jane, for her first visit..and we went shopping.  

   We went to the Wrangler.  Throughout most of the year, the Wrangler serves ranchers and their families.  During rodeo..or Frontier's full of us out of towners looking for something snazzy to wear. 

  The hat market is up in some quarters..

   But good straw is still a popular buy.

  They're not selling that sign..or the horns..but if they do, I want both.

  We saw shirts, boots, jeans, jewelry and gimcracks by the gross.  The store is an experience in itself.  I wouldn't miss it.

   Jane has a sore ankle, so she didn't buy boots this time..couldn't try them on.  So she found something bigger.


   This scrap-metal horse (look closely) stands in the plaza outside the railroad station:

   That picture is for my friend, Larry Guss, who also does art work with a welding torch.  That's a lot of spare parts, Larry.


   Cheyenne sprawls.  Nice neighborhoods with everything from small Victorians to elegant mansions..old buildings like the one above that speak of a certain time. Moreover, it's an important moment in American history, helping to glue together the transnational rail system that tied us together.  Crossing the country in a wagon train took an average of 166 days.  When the railroads came, it took 10 days.  Cheyenne helped to make that still does.

  It ain't all rodeo, Pard, but right now rodeo's the thing.  They've been doing the big show here for almost 120 years.  Tomorrow, we're going out and help them notch up another one.  

  Seeya when we get back.


JS.  7/24/2015

Thursday, July 23, 2015

First Glimpse of the Rockies
Ft. Collins, CO.  7/23/2015:  We came over a slight rise and there they were--the Rocky Mountains, right where I left them.  I admit they were as hazy as you see there, but there was no mistake--it was the mighty Front Range of the Rockies, rising full force and splendid out of the prairie.  The sky was bright and wonderfully blue in contrast to the murk and rain we've been having in the east. 

   We were elated.

   We had arrived. 

   And it takes no imagination at all to see that cloud giving us the big "Number One."


  That was a long ride from Delaware, Ohio.  We started Tuesday morning, drove to St. Louis.  Went on to Salina, KS the next day.  Left there and arrived here in Ft. Collins, CO this afternoon.  We'll be ready for a day of shopping in Cheyenne tomorrow.  We go to the great Cheyenne Rodeo on Saturday.  

   Stand by for pictures.

   But for now--time for a nap.


JS. 7/23/2015

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Bits and Pieces

Corn Marches On

Salina, KS, July 22, 2015:  There is Zen in long-distance driving.  I love to do it.  I can ride for hours through open countryside and lose myself in its grandeur, its dignity. its beauty and its grace.  The picture above is a place along Interstate 70 in eastern Kansas.  The sky is big, the land goes on forever.  

   You see these things and wonder:  Who lives there?  What is their life like?   How big is that farm?  Where does it end and the next one begin?  How do these folks see their lives and would they like to be somewhere else..or not?
Where do they go for a gallon of milk?   

   Things like that.

   Meanwhile, you keep your eyes open for the little things, too.  For instance:

   Three brand new trucks pulled by one brand new truck.  Where are they going?  All to the same owner?  Will he get a discount on the first truck because it will be more used than the others by the time it gets there?  Or will he just suck it up?


    Sometimes it pays to keep your head down.

   This guy was dusting crops in a field to the right, just out of camera view. I don't know what the fellow in the white van thought about it.  But he got more than one good look:

     Jane got those shots with my cell phone.  Good eye, fast trigger.


   And then there's this:

   I have passed this place near Topeka many times and have always wondered how the jet got there.  It's in a front yard near a tree.  What does it mean?  Was it the owner's pet airplane?  Who retired first..the plane or the owner?  Is there an airport back there I can't see?  Will it ever leave?

   The mind boggles.

   Interstate travel is never boring if you know how to do it.

   You just go with the flow, Baby, and wait for what turns up.

   Tomorrow, the Rockies turn up.

   And won't that be grand.


JS.  7/22/2015

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Rodeo Time

St. Louis, MO.  July 21, 2015:

     The Star Gazer lilies are blooming in the Eastern mountains..

..the corn is eye-high in Ohio.

That means it's Rodeo Time in Wyoming.

Time to hit the road.

      We left Delaware, Ohio early Tuesday morning and made St. Louis by dinner time.  The plans are to be in Ft. Collins, CO on Friday and in Cheyenne the next day.  Saturday ought to be great--a parade and then an afternoon of full-tilt
rodeo; contests that will lead the winners to the national finals.  It's a fantastic show, and I'll have some pictures for this space.

      Later, it's Steamboat Springs, CO, the Grand Canyon, Santa Fe and points in between.    
      Seeya down the road.

      We're headed west again.