Back in town.
Lights are on.
Came home to good things, not the least of which was a finished (close enough, anyway) kitchen, and another acceptance slip. “Gifted,” a short-short, was picked up by the Homestead Review, a pub out of Hartnell College in Salinas, California.
Expecting company later this afternoon. A long-overdue, much beloved visitor.
Should be a good weekend.
WHAT I DID ON MY SUMMER VACATION...
August 12, 2014
Woke early. 3:45 maybe, in a hotel on Hat Six Road. Couldn’t get back to sleep. Wrote a bit in the morning, then packed up. Went to the Safeway, stocked up on water, and supplies. Left Casper around noon.
Road construction on the west end of town, over highway 20. Flag men, etc. Drove into Arminto around 1:30, where I lost all telephone reception. BNSF railcars dead on tracks. New gas and oil rigs have sprung up. The old wool warehouse is losing ground to new mechanical doings. Some year it’ll disappear the way the alkali terminal did.
Road up the mountain was touchy in places, but better over some stretches than its been in many a year. Not sure what to think about that. Progress? Reached the cabin just before 4:00 and got things tidied up, ready for dinner.
Quiet tonight. No one for miles around. Just crickets, birds, and the occasional squirrel. The evening sky was blue. Different shades, from power to a deep gray blue. No orange or red at all. Writing by the light of two kerosene lamps.
August 13, 2014
Hash for breakfast, and a can of peaches. Enjoying a cup of instant, doctored with evaporated milk. It’s good to have things that remind you of home, but that aren’t home itself. Instant coffee. Kerosene lamps. A small bed with blankets you hardly remember, except that you slept under them one week every summer for twenty years.
First full day on the mountain. Quiet, but even so the residue of city sounds—car engines, overheard conversations, strange little ticks and ringings—keep rattling around in the head. Takes a while for the mind to shut down. Longer than it used to.
Saw a dead steer up at the gate near the Rochelle place on the way in yesterday. Just a black husk now streaked with bird shit, innards scavenged over the winter. A crow was sitting on its back when I drove up. Spooked when I got out to take a photo.
Saw the hide and backbone of another steer down in the Red Valley. Some enterprising soul had hung it on a fence. I remember the summer the steer first appeared. It was ten years ago. A red and white Hereford. Every summer since it’s lost a bit of itself to coyotes and turkey buzzards, and now it’s been reduced down to a macabre sort of ornament.
Forgot to retrieve my stories from Dropbox before coming up the mountain, so have nothing to revise for two days. The words are all locked up, somewhere in space. Couldn’t get at them if I wanted. Guess I’ll have to start in on the new one I’ve been thinking about. See if I can make some headway in that direction.
Wrote the draft of a new story, then hiked down to the old Thompson cabin, fishing the narrow little creek that trickles through the hills. Caught and released four brook and two cutt. Not bad for a lazy day’s work. Waiting to hit the Middle Fork of the Powder tomorrow before taking any for dinner.
Saw a doe and fawn browsing in the rocks up near Dylan’s Mountain. Other than that, a sleepy late afternoon. Read Peter Rock’s “Go-Between” and Robert Hellenga’s “A Christmas Letter” in Ploughshares when I got back to the cabin. Not to take anything away from Rock, but the Hellenga story really got to me.
Half an hour from sunset. Crickets have started sawing. Hoping for a clear night so I can stay up and stargaze awhile.
Missing old friends who used to come up here with me. Place is full of ghosts.
August 14, 2014
Stayed up late last night, but no break in the overcast skies. Clouds boiled up black and blue, filling the entire bowl of the heavens. Even the moon went truant. Got up and went outside around three. It was snowing. Nothing big, just flurries.
Spitting rain, now, and looking gloomy. Waiting to see how bad it gets before heading out to the middle fork. Don’t want to get mired along the way. It’s a bad road with some nasty switchbacks.
Guess I’ll boil another cup and settle into writing for a while.
(After waiting awhile…)
Rain’s coming down good and hard now, and the sky’s disappeared into the mist. No middle fork today. We’re heading for a great big toad-strangler.