I Love My John Deere

When Bill and I applied for our Site Steward positions at Buffalo Bill State Park, the job description said we would clean bathrooms, water lawns where irrigation doesn’t reach, mow grass as needed to keep the campground neat and well manicured, and special projects as assigned… However, what we found ourselves doing the first two weeks we were here was the “special project as assigned” of taking down snow fences, and pulling out the fence poles as well. Very heavy, backbreaking, labor intensive, work to say the very least…

Finally, after two weeks, our park manager asked if we were being worked too hard, and I spoke right up and said YES!! So we were reassigned duties to line up better with what our Site Steward positions should be, and the full-time, much younger, maintenance crew were assigned the task of taking down the remaining snow fences…

This is my very own (for the summer) little John Deere riding mower. I LOVE it!! If the seat is wet from rain the night before, I just put a big plastic trash bag over it and I’m set and ready for a great fun time mowing grass.

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The one chore I didn’t have to do around our house when I was growing up was mow the lawn. So of course, I’ve never been around a John Deere ridding mower ever in my life… But it didn’t take long after my little training lessen our lead man, Dale, gave me before he said he thought I was ready to go on and mow some grass on my own…Then he left me to my new job telling me he would be back at the shop about 5 miles away… I was so excited to be on my own on my little John Deere.

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Until I tried to mow under a fence and wrapped the back wheel right around the fence post and got stuck! My little John Deere mower wouldn’t move forward or backwards.. Oh, no!

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I had to run and go flag Bill down. He was on his “really big” John Deere mower working in a field across the way from me.

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Bill came and tried to get my mower unstuck, but he didn’t have anything to lift or pull my mower away from the fence. We asked the two full-time maintenance workers that were taking down the snow fences if they could help us but they didn’t have anything that would work to pull my mower off the fence either.., So we had no choice but to call our lead man, Dale, and ask him to bring something to pull my mower out from the fence post I had the back tire wrapped around…

When Paula, one of the full-time workers, said she would call Dale for me… I said “I bet this isn’t going to go well for me…” She laughed and said “oh Dale loves stuff like this to happen to woman because it gives him stories to tell and something to laugh about, and it will keep him off of me for a while…” I smiled and said “Oh, I’m sure I will give him lots of stories to tell and things to laugh about before this summer job is over…”

Dale came, laughed, and pulled my John Deere mower off the fence and I continued on my way. I got this whole area mowed, and was feeling pretty good about my job being completed fairly well, when Paula came by and said now I had to go and rake up all that grass I just mowed.

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I told Paula that Dale said I didn’t need to rake it, but she insisted that I did so I raked it all up into lots of big piles…

When I was just finishing up the raking, Dale came back and asked me what I was going to do with all that grass now that I had it all raked up? I said “I guess someone will have to come and pick it up in a truck. He asked me why I raked it and I told him Paula said it needed to be raked or it will kill the grass and it makes it harder to mow the grass the next time.. Dale said since Paula told me to rake the grass he thought picking up all the piles sounded like a good job for Paula… I don’t think Paula is going to be happy to hear that. But, I couldn’t stick around to find out because our morning shift was over, and we had to leave. On Tuesday’s Bill and I work a split shift.  Morning in the campground, and 3-7 p.m. at the Buffalo Bill Dam Visitor’s Center. I don’t usually look forward to working split shifts…but I have to say I was fine with leaving early today… I didn’t want to stay around to watch any drama when Paula found out she had to pick-up all that grass…

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I’m not here for drama… all I want to do now is ride my little John Deere mower.. I just LOVE it… 🙂

Stay Tuned

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Red Barn Day..

Bill and I needed to go to Costco, and we don’t have one in Cody Wyoming. So yesterday we took a road trip to Billings Montana. Billings Montana is about 104 miles from Cody.  We decided to make a little day trip of our Costco adventure where we can get out and see some more of Wyoming along the way, and get a little glimpse of what Montana is like.

We left our home at around 8:00 a.m. We made our way towards Montana, taking in more of the beautiful scenery Wyoming has to offer, like this.

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So many pretty things to see. Like this field of glorious color… I don’t know what that is growing, but it sure caught my eye with all its splendor..

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Then, we crossed the state line into Montana..

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And we traveled through several little one flashing yellow light (not even a red light) towns just like this one shown in the next two pictures..

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I so love these little one light towns…

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When I saw this red barn, I thought to myself that this is really what country living is all about…

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And the further we traveled into Montana…, the more I saw beautifully manicured lawns…, and more red barns..

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Before long, I was noticing that a lot of these people have red barns…

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I love them all… but I began to wonder if this is the secret “red barn” society… or is it a requirement to have a red barn if you are a farmer/rancher in Montana… or what…? I was beginning to think I would never know the answer to that question..

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When, finally, Bill said he saw a white barn…but we already passed it, and I didn’t see it…, so I’m going to call Montana “the red barn” state. At least for now, because that is what caught my eye, and attention, as we made our way through the beautiful little corner of Montana we saw on our way to Costco today…

We finished our Costco shopping, and decided what would a 104 mile trip to Costco be without finding a good place to get some Chinese food for lunch… ? We found a nice little place just 14 minutes from Costco.

We both enjoyed a lovely lunch starting with an order of egg rolls we shared,

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and we both enjoyed our own order of chicken Lo Mein. Very good!

Red barn day

Then, with full tummies, and a full car load from Costco…, we made our way back to our summer home in Wyoming… What we saw of Montana was beautiful, and I can’t wait to visit it again, but I have to say… it might be the “Big Sky” state…but I like Wyoming’s welcome sign better…It’s a much more colorful sign, and I love the way they display it…. just saying… 🙂 🙂

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Stay Tuned!

Yellowstone National Park

Finally, after 29 years of my husband, Bill, telling me about Yellowstone National Park, today, we visited a section of Yellowstone… Since Bill and I are located only 37 miles from the east entrance of Yellowstone National Park,  we have a very unique opportunity to visit the park on many occasions. We have a National Park Senior Pass that we purchased for $10.00 when we were in Utah, so we can visit as many times as we want without paying the entrance fees.

Today we  packed a picnic lunch, and went to visit Old Faithful, the Old Faithful Inn, and surrounding areas… We will continue to explore the park throughout our summer stay here in Wyoming, but today we focused on visiting Old Faithful.

Bill had been telling me about Yellowstone, and Old Faithful,  for the past 29 years, and I was beyond excited to get to go and actually see Yellowstone and Old Faithful for myself… I have never ventured much outside of Arizona, so  you can imagine what I felt like when we entered Yellowstone.

OMG! Even after hearing about this place for 29 years, I had no idea what I was about to experience when I first entered Yellowstone…

I had heard that there would be wildlife along the roads…. but you have to know that I, at 64 years of age, have never even seen a deer, elk, or antelope, until Bill and I landed in Wyoming…

Well, our visit to Yellowstone today was everything Bill told me it would be and more!

Right out of the gate upon entering the park, we saw Bison grazing in open fields.

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And I don’t even have words to express the beauty we saw as we climbed our way into the park… Just look at this…

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And this picture of the mountains across the Yellowstone Lake area. Breathtaking…

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When we reached Old Faithful, I was beyond excited to see first hand what Bill has been telling me about for the past 29 years…

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When I first saw the site, I have to say I didn’t think it was going to be “all that and a bag of chips…”.

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And as we waited for the “big” moment… I was really beginning to have my doubts that this was worth waiting 29 years to see…

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But, then, OMG…, when the eruption happened… it was everything I could have hoped for and MORE!!!

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After Old Faithful erupted, we then made our way into the Old Faithful Inn.. Wow, what a beautiful, and unique, place. So glad we took the time to really take it all in.. AMAZING!!!

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On our way home, I couldn’t resist taking some pictures of parts of the park that were damaged by fire… but still, beautiful with the snow on the ground.

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And how could I not take a moment to capture this picture of the damaged forest with the snow-covered mountain behind it.. Just beautiful.

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And the perfect ending to our day trip today, was seeing this mama grizzly bear, along with her cub, crossing the road just about 30 feet in front of us . Nature at its FINEST for sure.

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On our next visit to Yellowstone Park, we will visit the Grand Tetons and Jackson Wyoming. I’m so looking forward to that visit as well.

A BIG Thank-You to Bill for making our Yellowstone Visit come true…The section of Yellowstone, and Old Faithful,  we visited today was everything you said it would be and so much MORE… I LOVE you, and can’t hardly wait for the Grand Tetons… ! 🙂

Stay Tuned!

What Was I Thinking?

This is week two of our summer work/camp position in Buffalo Bill State Park, which is about six miles from the adorable western town of Cody Wyoming, shown in the next two pictures.

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Bill and I are Site Stewards at Buffalo Bill State Park which, on paper, looks like it would a great outdoor summer job to have. We both love being outside, and how could you not love working outdoors here where everywhere you look there is something beautiful to look at…? The spot in the next two pictures is one of my favorite places to take a little break during the workday.

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This next picture is what we wake-up to every morning. It changes constantly throughout the day as the clouds move in and out and as the sun touches different spots of the mountain creating lovely shadows…

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The people here are all very nice. And, after work, we sometimes have little happy hours, and we even have a picnic table and b-b-q area right behind our RV that some past site stewards built out of reclaimed wood.. How nice is that!

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They even made a little bird house and birds of every color come to visit everyday…

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But “what was I thinking”, when I decided (and convinced Bill) that being site stewards would be something I would love above all else in the work/camp world? Well, according to the job description we received on day one of our jobs, we are to clean and sanitize about twelve bathrooms, mow grass, hand water where irrigation doesn’t reach, and “special projects” as assigned… three days a week/eight hours a day… That’s where it all went south, when the “special projects were assigned…

The first thing I let us get roped into was working a split shift on Tuesday’s. The Park Assistant Manger asked us if we would mind working from 7-11 in the morning on Tuesday’s, then go to help out at the Buffalo Bill Dam (shown below) Visitor Center from 3 p.m. 7 p.m. He said Bill could drive the electric cart that transports visitors from the parking lot to the Visitor Center, and I would be perfect to greet visitors and help sell stuff in the gift shop… I agreed because we want to be helpful, but I really never have liked working split shifts… when I get home from work, I don’t want to have to go back again in the evening… but I agreed so now that is what we do…

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But, OMG, what “WAS I thinking” when we were asked to take down snow fences and pull out the fence poles that hold them up…? The picture below is me trying to operate the pole puller, which weighs about 25 lbs all by itself. You have to lift it over the pole to get it on, push down with all your might (which at my age I dont’ have a lot of might now) then when you get the pole up out of the ground, you have to hold on to it with one hand while you try to hoist the 25 lb pole puller up and off of the pole you just pulled out of the ground.. OMG it is hard, manual LABOR, and not anything like I could have even imagined it would be… They told me, “oh, it’s easy, we have a pole jack that does most of the work for you…” Most of the work my A##! I hurt in places I didn’t even know I had after even a half a day of working this “special project”…

And, of course, before you can even begin to start pulling poles out of the hard ground…, you have to first undo all the little rusty wires that are tied around the poles that secure the snow fence to the poles and keep it around the trees… Once you get all the rusty little ties off, well then you have to pull all the fencing down, roll it up, and try to carry it to the flat-bed truck that we haul it back to the shop yard in…There is NOTHING easy about this kind of work. But, I’m doing it, and I even do it with my lipstick on… I might have to work like a man…but I don’t have to look like one…

Yesterday while Bill and I were taking down snow fences, a man working with our Park Manager, asked us how we got selected to do the hardest jobs in the park? I said “well because I’m stupid comes to mind”. I told him that I wanted to try being a site steward for a summer without having any idea of what it would involve here at Buffalo Bill State Park. He said he is a Park Manager at another park not far from here and wanted to know if we would be interested in being Park Host there? He said he would hate to “steal” us from this park but he has two open positions and he can clearly see we are great workers… He said all his Park Host have to do is clean campsites after campers leave and be there in the park four days a week to answer questions for visitors… I said it sounded GREAT to me right now, but we already committed to this Park and we will honor that commitment.

However, our Park Manger did come and ask us if we were being worked too hard and I VERY quickly said YES! So he said next week we will get trained on how to operate the big John Deer riding mowers and just do that from now on. He said he will let the younger, full-time, maintenance staff take down the remaining snow fences. YEAH!!! I wasn’t about to argue, but the fact of the matter is there are only about 15-20 fences left to come down… Bill and I already did about 40 all by ourselves…

So, next week Bill and I will still clean bathrooms in the morning, but in the afternoons we will be mowing all the dark green areas you see in the picture below.

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And, we will be doing it on big John Deer riding mowers… Sounds like a perfect plan to me, and just maybe I won’t have to be saying “what was I thinking”, anymore..!

Stay tuned!

Exploring Cody Wyoming

My husband Bill/Bro and I are all settled into our new RV home location for the summer here in Cody Wyoming, and we had some business in town today. I love using that term “in town”, because it truly is what the locals say here in the small, very much western, town of Cody Wyoming. Oh, how my cowgirl at heart loves this little piece of heaven…

So, while we were out and about in town, we decided to make a day of it and really explore the adorable little town of Cody, and the surrounding area.

We stopped in at a gun and ammo shop where Bill bought a holster for one of our two 22 pistol’s. He got a pretty good deal on it as it is a leather tooled holster complete with an ammo belt. Now, we both have pistol’s and holsters/ammo belts and are in the process of looking into where we can go target practicing. I can’t wait to strap on my gun and holster, just like Annie Oakley, and go shoot some targets… YaHoo!!

Then, since it was lunch time, and the famous Irma Hotel was just on the corner from the ammo shop, we naturally ventured in there to have a look around and decided to stay for lunch. So glad we did.

The Irma Hotel is a landmark in Cody Wyoming. It was built by Buffalo Bill Cody, and named after his daughter Irma.

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A focal point of the hotel is the famous back bar made of cherry wood. It was a gift given by Queen Victoria to Buffalo Bill. The hotel opened in 1902 and quickly became the social center of Cody. They still use the gold-tone manual cash register today.

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Loved the detail in the woodwork above the bar. So, so, beautiful, and I can only imagine what it took back in those days to create something like this.

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Of course, everything in Cody is representative of the wild, wild, west, and I so LOVE it all… Just look at how they made a chandelier out of antlers… who knew?? 🙂

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I was amazed that way back then they even thought to put a “call button” in to call your waitress to your table, but sure enough, just notice the little white button just below the picture below… Must have been out of necessity because no one would hear you calling for your waitress over the music and gunfire way back then,,,

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Well, since we are sitting right here in the Buffalo Bill/Bro reservoir in Cody Wyoming… I just knew the fish and chips had to be fresh and good, so I ordered that with slaw and sweet potato fries. Excellent!

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Bill opted for the French Dip sandwich and Irma potatoes. He didn’t think it was anything special… Of course not… How can anything “French” be good in the wild, wild, west town of Cody Wyoming? Silly boy,… They don’t do French anything here in the wild, wild, west Bill/Bro… 🙂

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After lunch we ventured into a little shop connected to the hotel where they sell all kinds of “shit”. Just take a look at all the  “shit” they sell…. 🙂 LOVED it!!

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After lunch, and exploring the little shops of Cody, we stopped at the Buffalo Bill Dam Visitors Center that is the first thing you see when you come out of the three tunnels that take you through, instead of over, the mountains that divide the town of Cody from the Buffalo Bill State Park where we are residing for the summer.

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I am in Awe every time we come through that tunnel and I see these souring mountains that surround the reservoir

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I hope I NEVER get used to seeing this kind of beauty all around me…

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The next picture is of the Buffalo Bill Dam. It is a concrete arch-gravity dam on the Shoshone River in Cody Wyoming. It is named after the famous wild west figure William “Buffalo Bill” Cody who founded the nearby town of Cody. He owned much of the land now covered by the reservoir formed by the dam construction. 325 Ft high, 70 ft wide at the base. Built in 1910. I can only imagine what the people that worked on this dam endured, and what it took for the people that worked on that dam to survive. At the visitor’s center we learned that 8 people died, three were blinded, and some lost limbs during the construction of the dam.. Just imagine what it took to construct something like this in the 1900’s..

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Just as we finished up our tour of the Buffalo Bill Dam, we noticed a big storm about to descend upon us so we headed home to a rustic stew I have cooking in the crock-pot that I will complete with homemade biscuits… Perfect meal to end a perfect day..

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Stay Tuned!

Home, Home On The Range…

This summer we have a home on the range where the deer, elk, wild horses, and all other kinds of wild life play, and I LOVE it!

Bill and I took a scenic drive today towards Yellowstone National Park, but didn’t go into the park just yet because Bill wants to take me there for the first time when we have the whole day to take it all in… But the drive we took today was amazing. Yet again, I am blown away by the absolute beauty that surrounds us here in Buffalo Bill State Park.

Today, we not only saw deer grazing all along the way, but we also saw herds of Elk eating and just lounging around in pastures of plenty… How pretty and amazing is this…

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And I just can’t get over how within a couple of miles along the road the landscape changes right before your very eyes. From this…

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To this….

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To this…

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To this… all within approximately 20 miles… So, so, beautiful to me…

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And then, out of nowhere… we came upon this Bob’s Big Boy Icon right out in the middle of a beautiful field… Nothing around it that had anything to do with eating…?? Your guess is as good as mine as to what that is all about… But I found it interesting so I captured this picture to share. 🙂

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When we arrived home we met another of our neighbors for the summer, Sam. Sam is the official Law Enforcement person for Buffalo Bill State Park during the summer months. He is retired from the Forest Service and lives in Billings Montana (two hours from Cody Wyoming) with his wife, and two daughters they adopted from China. Buffalo Bill State Park provides Sam with a camp trailer, partly shown in the picture below, and he is paid to work four, ten-hour days, and on call as needed during the summer months. Sam came over and introduced himself to us and told us all about what we will do here which is to mow and trim the grass (where you see the dark green in the picture below), good thing they provide riding mowers, clean and stock bathrooms with toilet paper, and general light ground maintenance i.e. pick-up trash etc. three days a week during the busy summer tourist season… Sam told us we are welcome to use his firewood shown in the picture below as we wish if we want to have a fire pit evening… He said they try to get the other Park Hosts and work/campers together once or twice a month for pot luck dinners and happy hours too… Oh, I just know this is going to be one of the best summers EVER!!!

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Stay Tuned!

Buffalo Bill State Park

My husband, Bill and I arrived at our summer work/camp destination, in Buffalo Bill State Park, in Cody Wyoming, on Thursday morning. I just can’t say enough about how beautiful this place is to me. I am completely blown away, because this has surpassed every expectation I ever had about Wyoming even through Bill has been telling me about Wyoming for the past 28 yrs. Bill says he is getting a kick out of my excitement over just the things we have seen so far. And we haven’t even been to Yellowstone or the Grand Tetons yet…

You have to keep in mind that I have never really been out of Arizona, except to fly to New York City, where I did have the opportunity to visit Vermont, and I thought I died and went to heaven then… And when I was a child my family traveled from Arizona to Pennsylvania by car but I was so young I didn’t have any interest in seeing the country side at all. All I wanted was to get out of that car, packed with four kids, a very large dog, and my parents…

But now that Bill and I are retired and work/camping our way around the United States and eventually we hope to get into Canada… , I am just amazed at the beautiful things Bill and I are seeing along our way…

However, for now, I just want to share some of what I have seen just since we arrive on Thursday and this is only Friday…

When viewing these pictures please keep in mind, I have never lived anywhere where wild animals just come and graze right in front of your home, where ever that may be…

First off, this is the long tunnel we travel through from the adorable town of Cody Wyoming, where we will do our shopping, go to church, etc. as we make our way to our summer home on the north shore of Buffalo Bill Reservoir.

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When you come out of the long tunnel you are met with this beautiful view of the reservoir. This picture doesn’t even begin to do this view justice but it is the best I have so far.

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The landscape just keeps changing all along the reservoir, and it looks so very different at different times of the day.

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This view is just across the highway from where we are living.

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Now, I know many of you may have lived where you have wild horses, deer, or other wild animals visiting your property at any given time… but keep in mind that I have not ever seen anything like this herd of deer grazing just beside our driveway where we have our motorhome parked, when we came home from sightseeing today. OMG I could not get Bill to stop fast enough to get this picture.

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But there was no need for me to be in a rush, because even after we came into our home, I captured this picture through the front window of our motorhome. She/he was just feet in front of me and just stood there looking at me as I took his/her picture… It was like he/she was saying “no hurry… I’ll wait… calm down and just breathe it all in…

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Well, as you can tell, I am beyond excited about all the new things I am seeing, and experiencing, here in Wyoming… Things I have never seen before, and meeting so many nice people I may never see again…

So, if you can stand to hear more of my excitement…

Stay Tuned!

 

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