Bonanza, The High Chaparral, Rawhide. I loved all those Westerns, and even developed a teenage fantasy about living on a ranch in Wyoming or Montana. That was, of course, before I discovered that I am highly allergic to horses. And to the hay in the barn. And to the cats that live in the hay in the barn. My dream had to be placed in the file under “denied.”
I digress. Our dear friends’ daughter was getting married, so J and I flew out to Utah for the wedding. We figured that as long as we were traveling such a long distance, it would be a great opportunity to take a few days to explore the area. Well, driving from Salt Lake City through Utah and Idaho to Wyoming brought back all the vast desert and jagged mountain scenery I had gawked at in the movies, on television, and in the pages of Zane Grey novels — but in color. I fell in love all over again.
Winding through the breathtakingly beautiful Snake River Canyon in Idaho’s Magic Valley, I found myself gasping at every turn. Thank goodness we have digital cameras now; otherwise, I would have plowed through dozens of rolls of film.
Then we got to Wyoming and its Tetons. I am without words to describe their majesty. They rise suddenly and startingly from the flat desert, straight up into the air.
We were in the park before dawn to be sure to see the elk rutting. (Hmm. That actually sounds somewhat voyeuristic, doesn’t it?) The fog was thick and, although we couldn’t see much, if any, of the fabulous mountains, we didn’t have to jostle with other visitors. Apparently, most people prefer sunshine.
But! Talk about clouds and silver linings. The bulls, having left their bros during the rut, galloped across the plains with their harems. We didn’t view any fights among bulls vying for the ladies’ affection, but we did view one between two antelope.
The other advantage of the fog was that it was the perfect vehicle to carry the sound of the male elk’s bugling. From our position at the top of a tall peak, we could hear the call bouncing through around the cliffs. Haunting and beautiful. And we had it all to ourselves.
By the time we left the park, the sky had cleared but the road into the park resembled the Southeast Expressway at rush hour.