July 28, 2023
Rusty caught a fish!
This is either called a whitefish OR is not called a whitefish but I’ve mis-remembered because it LOOKS like it should be called a whitefish. According to Rusty, it put up a mighty battle. According to Jack, it is an unusually large specimen. They were both as pleased as if they’d starred in a movie very loosely based on some Hemingway novel.
I enjoyed a glorious afternoon on my porch reading the not-very-good Western novels the cabin came stocked with. And I eyed the fast-moving clouds with a wise but unexperienced eye. Looks like we’re gonna get some weather. Would YOU plan on dinner for 50 or so at 5:30 if the sky looked like this at 3:30?? No? Then you're not as tough as the folks at the Elkhorn. On we went, and they were right to do it, too.
We dined last night in a meadow far from the ranch. (That’s a lie. It was ON the ranch; about a mile or so down a very bumpy track, which I experienced in the back of Linda’s Silverado because I was too lazy to hoof it; it was a DELIGHTFUL mode of conveyance, about which I felt only very distantly guilty.) It DID rain, but not very hard and not for very long. All the cooks were still in shirtsleeves. All the dudes whipped out their fancy raincoats and tugged on the brims of their fancy hats. To Rusty’s despair, I put on my horrible Discount French Foreign Legion hat (“that’s really just a terrible hat, Mom” “Oh, I know”) and pulled the hood of Jonathan’s Goretex raincoat up and sat in the drizzle, hideous and happy. Rusty had borrowed a rain slicker from the boot-and-hattery but he hadn’t tried it on. It was about three sizes too small for him, so I’m not sure why he felt he was entitled to hand down fashion judgments on me!
Most of the people arrived by horse, having taken either a three or an eight-hour trail ride first, so we ate our meal amid a cluster of placid horses, standing there in their saddles with loosened girths, waiting for us to finish up and get the hell home.
The horses knew that once everyone was home, the wranglers would open up the gates and the horses would be free to scatter around the human-dominated portion of the property—a practice known as “home pasture.” I’m not sure why we got two nights of home pasture this week, but I so enjoyed watching Rusty meet Dunder in the near darkness that I was looking forward to it again.
And so was Rusty. After dinner, we sat in that distant meadow and watched the riders saddle up. I realized that Rusty hadn’t been down to the corral with me. He hadn’t yet seen the slow-yet-amazingly-rapid process of getting thirty or forty people mounted in a surprisingly short time. So he and I sat there and did color commentary. We admired horse noses, horse feet, horse muscles, the abundant and very yellow quantity of horse piss. He laughed with a total lack of cool every time a horse raised its tail and made a new pile in the grass. “I don’t know why I think that’s so funny,” he said, “but it’s just hysterical. Maybe because the horse does not care at all, and people are so uptight about it.”
He also sang the “Confutatis, maladictis” scene from “Amadeus,” all the way through the “Vocame.” The brilliant part where Mozart is dictating to Salieri. It was a very odd thing to be singing at a cowboy picnic, surrounded by thirty or forty horses and many dudes in their split-hem raincoats so they could ride in the drizzle, and the wranglers in hats that did NOT look like they’d just come from the Amazon delivery truck. But the song amused us both; I sang too.
Lexie, Douglas, Stephen, and Trystyn drove back with KT. She’d been their tour guide for a “short” tour of Yellowstone; they were supposed to be back by around 1pm because any longer would be hard on Tobi. Tobi, however, was tougher than they thought, and they didn’t get to dinner until well after 6pm, by which time Rusty and I had envisioned all sorts of emergency scenarios involving boiling geyser hotpots, massive highway jams caused by elk or bison, or perhaps a quick round of hey bear.
Tobi, freed from the constraints of his family, spent the entire dinnertime at a dead run, playing with the two kid wranglers, Avery and Matt. He rose back to the ranch in one of the golf cart/gators, sitting on Matt’s lap with a calmness that was very entertaining. This? Oh, this is my driver. On our way, my good man.
Once back at the main office, Lexie and I sat on the steps to wait and wait and wait for the horse release. And here they come! (The video I took is 45 seconds long; it might not upload. Imagine if you will, fifty or more horses running where they will, shouting in joy that they’ve shaken the tourists from their backs. Joyous!)
And now it’s a little past six in the morning. There are horses outside my window. I have to officially wake up at 6:30 because Rusty and I are having our own tour of Yellowstone today. We’re supposed to be at the office by 7 to meet Isla, the hiking guide. She’s running our Yellowstone car tour today, and she’s training Kaitlyn, so we’ll have two guides and me and Rusty—a very nice and calm trip. Isla will begin her final year at the University of Vermont this fall; by extremely odd coincidence, she’ll graduate with the same degree Rusty has (Natural Resources), and has the same advisor he had. What a very, very small world.
We’ve asked to go through the LaMarr Valley; we want to see charismatic megafauna…but I also want to see Grand Prismatic, too, so I think our tour might be a long one. Yay!