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  • Writer's picturePru Warren

A River Runs Through It

July 25, 2033


Landscape photo by Rusty. S'good, innit??


I live a very fortunate life. I’m mostly desk-bound, unless I stir my stumps to take an exercise class. Weather is of only passing interest since I write from my home. Who cares if it’s freezing or sleeting or humid like the Okeefenogee? My air is conditioned.


So most of the time, when I say “I’m tired,” it’s generally the product of mental stress, or a poor night’s sleep or some other First World condition.


Today when I say I’m tired, I mean my muscles all have different things to say. My feet are throbbing. I have that post-sweat saltiness abrading my skin—but I have to SIT HERE for a little while longer before I walk the impossible distance to the shower. Who said this cabin was tiny? The trek from my chair on the porch to the tiny bathroom seems almost insurmountable now!


Dunder and I had a wonderful ride this morning. That's Dunder with the all-knowing Linda.

I tried to get a surreptitious candid of Lance the Jonas Brother so you could see how cute this child is.


Turns out Lance was a rider on the rodeo circuit. I can’t even imagine how bored he must be to have utter dudes trailing after him at the slowest possible walk.



Lexie carried on a long and happy conversation with Lance Jonas Brother while Douglas and I mosey’ed along behind. Up steep paths (me trying to balance over the saddle, all my weight in the stirrups to give Dunder the best chance of making it to the top), down steep trails (me with all my weight in my stirrups but leaning back; weight in Dunder’s shoulders again), strolling along mountain streams.


Lance pulled over regularly (or rather, came to a stop) to let Douglas and me catch up. At one stop, we were waiting for Douglas and I said “Listen to the sound of that brook—isn’t that pretty?” At which point ALL FOUR HORSES immediately had a long, luxurious piss. Made me giggle.


No one taught Douglas how to ride—I’m not quite sure why—so he was essentially cargo, and his horse Ringo went at his own pace. I was doing a little better on Dunder—we mostly stopped fighting over the salad bar—but there was one moment when I’d held him back to let Lexie and Lance get down the steep slope to the meadow beyond. “Give yourself some room,” I said to Dunder.


Actually what I said was “Ho,” because that’s what we say in horse places. Or that’s what we said when I had riding lessons when I was twelve.


So we ho’ed. And then Dunder picked his way down the slope. When we got to the meadow, and Whistler (with Lexie) and Chex (Lance’s horse) were too far across the meadow to suit Dunder, he broke into an eager trot. Which I KNEW I shouldn’t have allowed—but it was so fun. As we came along, I called out in time to the bounces. “We…are…trotting…and…it…wasn’t…my…idea!”


Dunder heard the laughter in my voice and decided the contest had been decided; he was now in charge. And he wanted to go home. So we had a little test of wills in the middle of the meadow, me trying to fool him into going my way by letting him turn and then keeping the turn going, and Dunder perfectly aware of this trick and ignoring me. Lance had to come back and explain that my overeager neck-reining was not helping; he gave me a tip and Dunder surrendered.


But for a few moments after that, we went back to fighting about the salad bar. No, Dunder. I know you love thistles, but no. I felt it was a momentous event in my exceptionally limited career as a cowboy. I don’t know about Dunder, but I enjoyed it quite a lot!


We got to a meadow—can you call it a meadow if it’s grasses and wildflowers sloping down a near-vertical rise? It was a vertical meadow, and quite stunningly beautiful. We saw far-distant vistas (Sage Peak, still with snow on the top). We passed the location of an outdoor diner on our way back in; I’m told that tomorrow’s outdoor breakfast is even closer in. We can opt to ride to that, walk to it, or surrender to motorized transport. I’ll have to make a decision about that pretty soon—although right now, the answer is CAR, BABY!!


By the time we got back to the barn, we were all exhausted. Happy, but worn out. There was enough time for lunch and then a very slow march up to the highest cabin in the land to retrieve fishing stuff. Sneakers instead of boots. More sunscreen.


Even Tobi got to ride. Here he is on Snickers. Cute? You betcha!



Rusty, who had been fishing all morning, appeared on the porch and plopped into one of our three exceedingly uncomfortable chairs. “I’m having a very good time,” he said. “I’m having a good enough time that I’m willing to risk you saying I told you so.” He correctly assumed that this was the best compliment I could have heard. Not to put too fine a point on it, I was fucking delighted!


Rusty had signed up for back-to-back fly fishing expeditions. For this afternoon, I joined him, as did Lexie and Stephen. Darling Jack the fly-fishing expert didn’t have a pair of waders big enough to go over my ample posterior. He was so very cool about it—“we’ll fish in places where you don’t have to get into the water.” He handled it so pleasantly, and I was so tired, that I skipped being humiliated and was simply glad that I didn’t have to wrap my tired, overwarm self in layers of neoprene. Only Stephen looked comfortable; Lexie and Rusty looked like oven-stuffer roasters.




However, when we got to the Gallatin River, in they went to their thighs to cast in the cold, rushing water, which—I must confess—I WAS envious of. But Jack did not let me down; he worked with me from the stony bank. My suspicion is that I would have been equally inept if I’d been in the water. At least this way, every time I hooked some of the shrubs behind me, I could untangle myself without having to try to wade onto dry land.



Besides, I was tired. It took a while to trek across open scrub land (laced with sage and one remarkable mule deer skeleton) to get from the car in the turn-out to the river, and Lexie and I both took our time. Jack had discovered that the entire carful of guests all cursed like sailors and he had already bonded with Rusty and Stephen, so we had a very silly, extremely fun time.



As we were packing up to leave the first place, Lexie leaned an arm on Rusty’s shoulder in her fatigue. “Are you just leaning on me?” he asked. “Yes, I am.” “Okay, then. Lean on me.”


Then every one of us opened our mouths spontaneously and sang a few verses in splendid harmony. Jack turned out to have been in the chorus. He loved it. “You guys are my favorite tour ever,” he said. Was it true? Who cares? We were all delighted.


We went to a second spot, where I announced that I had hooked enough foliage and would only be watching. Jack took us to a place where he’d often seen beavers, but other fly fishers were already there, so we hiked back to the car.


The “car” was Jack’s pride and joy—an ancient Astro van that he adored. Rusty and Jack had already memorialized the Astro, and it was made much of. Rusty's photo of the Astro in a rainbow.


Jack, showing off a classic beefcake shot to demonstrate the beauty of his favorite vehicle.



Jack offered us a longer hike to a good fishing spot, a shorter hike to a bad fishing spot, a further tour of Yellowstone, or an early return to the ranch.


Lexie and I tried not to plead for something IN the car, not beyond the car, and the boys relented. No one had caught a single fish, but all were satisfied. Jack drove us to a place where there was a view of Gallatin Mountain, where he offered to take our photos. Rusty outdid him with a selfie of all of us.



Then Rusty showed me a cool trick where you use portrait mode in the Apple phone’s camera, turn the phone upside down, and angle it slightly to get great photos of flowers. This group is a mix of the two techniques; his are far more cool than mine! I'm sorry it takes up so much space, I cannot figure out how to get the gallery of photos to work and am too lazy to figure it out!









Lexie and I awarded Jack honorary son status; he’s promised to bring “tater salad” and some smoked trout to Thanksgiving dinner.


And now I’m back on my porch, having showered very slowly. My muscle symphony is dying down a tad; I actually think I might survive putting my sneakers back down and hoofing it back to the dining hall for dinner. Then I’ll park my over-broad but happy ass on the porch at the office and post this. Who knows what alarums and excursions the evening will bring?!


We've come up with a new system of understanding how old we feel, Lexie and I, based on just how loudly we groan when we stand up. So far: We are ancient!


The internet here is making me buggy. I took two photos of dinner, but only one made it from the iPhone to the laptop; I don't know why. Here is HALF our party enjoying the dessert we very definitely do not feel guilty about! Hopefully the other half will arrive--surprise!--tomorrow.



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