Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.

Ashley Smith

Friday, June 29, 2012

Why-O, Wyoming!

These are actually "wild" buffalo in the Gros Ventre Wilderness
I know, you are asking yourselves, "why would they travel 537 miles to see something they can see out their window?"  Well... we might see buffalo out our window at home, but we can't see this:

Grand Teton Range
And we didn't go just to sight see anyway (although we did our fair share!).  We went to ride!

Let me start at the beginning. or at least on the first leg of the trip!  Since the distance between us and the Gros Ventre wilderness is over 500 miles and we are trailering our 4-hooved friends, we try and make an overnight pit stop on the way out and the way back.

On the way out, our favorite stop over is Lima, MT, specifically the Mountain View Motel

Mountain View Motel, our first stop
They have wooden corrals there to keep the equine in at night. and ridiculous as it sounds, I didn't photo our sweet boys in them :(.  I did however snap a photo of their cleaning cart.

Cracks me up.

When we walked around "town" we saw these:

Sheepherder wagon!

We looked inside, luckily nobody was home!

Next morning we continued our journey so that we could do this:

The day before...


They're waiting too!

Yes, the deal is that they open the gates to access the wilderness behind the Elk Refuge at 8am on May 1st.  So, the line begins to form at 8 am on April 30th.  We didn't get there until about 6 pm.  It was lots of fun staying overnight this year because we are, as they say "set-up".  Two years ago, we were not "set up" and shoveled horse poop out of the trailer, laid down a blue tarp and slept on that.  We tied the horses to the side of the trailer, so there was not much sleep happening.  This year we slept inside, on a MATTRESS and the horses enjoyed their pen.

Getting ready!
 It was WAY better.

See how happy?
Well next morning we saddled up, drove with everyone else (parade style) to the parking lot and hopped out.

We got to the parking lot about 8:15 am.  I am giving you this excruciating detail, because as we unloaded our horses, we saw this coming out:

Hmm... already a full pack saddle worth?
This mule is loaded with elk antler drops.  Several stories were tossed around from the generous (he must have crossed the river at midnight and worked his way over here) to the... um... less generous (that jerk must have trespassed and cached all those antlers!)  The truth will never be known.

anyway, we rode.

The man and his mule.
 and rode.
Yes, it was cold, thanks for asking.
all day in the cold, cold wind.  It was super fun and the horses did well for their first big spring outing.  We did not find antlers.  Well, that isn't entirely true, Brian did find one that looked like it was from last year- still cool.

after all day in the cold wind (did I mention it was cold and windy?) we stayed in a nice hotel :)  and the equines stayed in the box stalls at the fairgrounds :(  not their favorite.  As you can see by this photo, the mule does not like to be unable to see his friends:

Naughty mule...
He fixed that. and then we fixed the partition between the two stalls.  Geepers these horses are a lot of work.

We did tour around Jackson, ate the most awesome pizza ( Mountain High Pizza - it's the best!)

There is of course the antler arch:

And two years ago we had a cold one in here:

But alas, this year they were closed...

No steak for you missy.
so we walked down the street and saw this:

Which is about 3/4 life size. very cool.  a little over our trinket budget, so if you really want to see it, I bet it is still in the gallery there...

The next day we rode again:

Another awesome day.  much less windy!

Okay I am going to post this half of the story, since this all happened 2 and a half months ago and it is very long!  I will post about Pinedale, WY and the Mountain Man Museum next week!!

Have a super weekend!

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