Week 5 commencing 30th June 2012 

We'd had a good four days in Livingston Montana but it was time to move on down south to Sheridan Wyoming, (point "K" on the route map). On the way we decided to visit a prairie dog town near Greycliff MT. There were heaps of prairies dogs in this small State Park but they were really nervous when when we tried to get close for photos. As soon as we approached they quickly dashed into their burrows. The reason for their nervousness soon became quite obvious. A guy on a quad bike appeared just on the other side of a barbed wire fence and started firing his rifle in rapid succession whilst driving around in figures of eight!. He was less than 150 metres away and this was a little too close for comfort.  Given the pretty reckless way he was going about his task we decided to leave. I have no doubt that as soon as we were gone his shots would be aimed over the wire fence and into the State Park where there were far more targets. Whilst prairie dogs look cute and amusing to us, the locals hate these critters and consider them vermin because of the damage they do to grazing land.

Congregations of prairie dogs are called "prairie dog towns"

Nervous prairie dog gives us a brief photographic opportunity

All types of prairie dogs are considered vermin in the USA

I like the rate and REALLY like the idea of "OPTIONAL Sales Tax"

Sheridan is apparently one of the most iconic cowboy towns in the West. The cottage we had rented turned out to be really spacious, beautifully renovated, well maintained and absolutely perfect for our needs. We were totally delighted. The minor downside was an owner who was both nice and totally neurotic at the same time. She insisted on meeting us at the cottage to give us an orientation cruise throughout every square inch of the cottage, lawns and gardens. This took the best part of 90 minutes! It soon became very clear that the owner badly needed the rental revenue but hated the thought of strangers living in her late mother's former home which was obviously very close to her heart. We received so many instructions and "suggestions" that it started to become a bit tiresome. Perhaps the most novel instruction was to avoid getting any water on the kitchen bench because the travertine surface was prone to showing water marks. Can you imagine the challenge Lynn faced when preparing meals and washing the dishes?

During our week in Sheridan WY we celebrated American Independence Day in a very quiet way and had some very interesting excursions out into nearby regions.

Lynn draws mud map of Cloud Peak Wilderness Area Wyoming

Near the foot of the Big Horn mountain range in Wyoming

One of our nicer excursions was a trip up into the Cloud Peak Wilderness Area in the Big Horn Mountains. It was a slow dirt road all the way with some quite bad washboard surfaces in places but there was very little traffic and we quite like taking things slowly when there's good scenery on offer.... which was indeed the case. 

Sounds interesting but no way we're going down THAT road!

On our way to the Cloud Peak Wilderness Area

It was yet again a very hot day but as previously mentioned in this website journal, we have been blessed with sunny and very hot weather almost every day since arriving in America. Some cooler days would be welcome for a change but they have not been forthcoming thus far. Still we surely can't complain.

Cloud Peak Wilderness Area in Big Horn Mountain Range WY

Heading along the Big Horn Scenic Byway in Wyoming

Cloud Peak Wilderness Area is an especially nice niche of the Big Horn ranges. There are lots of craggy mountains, forests, lakes and lovely green meadows. This has been an extremely dry year in the whole Rocky Mountains region with vastly reduced snowfall. As a result only the highest peaks have a skimpy amount of snow in shaded crevices usually on their northern sides. I wish there was a little more snow in which case this area would have been even more drop dead gorgeous.

 On the road to the town of Ten Sleeps, Wyoming

Heading along the Big Horn Scenic Byway in Wyoming

Cloud Peak Wilderness Area in Big Horn Mountain Range WY

Cloud Peak Wilderness Area in Big Horn Mountain Range WY

After a trip down VERY narrow dirt road.... sure hope they wash off

Sheep holding up barn near Ten Sleeps, WY (sheep at right)

We like to explore little tracks seemingly going to nowhere. Sometimes in the past this has resulted in some wonderful discoveries whilst at other times it has got us into trouble. On this particular day we followed a very small dirt track hoping to find a certain part of a lake. Unfortunately the track got narrower and narrower as we went along. There was thick low bush on both sides and no way to turn around. Soon we were hearing that terrible soft bush scraping sound on both sides of the car. I've been in this type of situation several times before during my lifetime and the only thing you can do it keep going really slowly until you're out of it.

Eventually we reached the end of the track to find about four groups of fairly young adult campers and kids completely blocking the tiny turning space with their tents, vehicles, chairs, kayaks and whatever. They completely ignored our arrival and didn't make the least attempt to clear a space or raise up from the towels where they where sunbaking right on the track itself. One could feel a real aura of belligerence radiating out towards us from the 16 or so people thereabouts. I was forced to execute a 12 point turn within a pocket handkerchief space before heading back along the scratchy track again to the strains of "I told you you shouldn't have come down this track". Luckily the scratches you see in the above photo were largely invisible after a good car wash. I was glad not to add any further damage to the hail stone dents I acquired up in Montana.

This group of mountain horses just ignored me at first

Then this stallion tried to bite my face off... a very narrow escape!

Surprisingly we saw very little wildlife in this section of the Big Horns. However we did come across a group of horses which were either wild or semi wild. At first they didn't seem to mind me photographing them from about five metres away. Then the one with the lighter colour coat strolled over to the car. I got off one startled reflex photo as this stallion tried to get his teeth bared snout in the window and bite my face. A lucky escape on my part!

Soup of the Day at a cafe near Big Horns! Better than it looked

Rustic looking cowboy bikie in audience at Buffalo concert

Brian rests in stinking hot sun before start of Buffalo WY concert

Thirsty cowboy upends his 3rd or 4th very large breakfast beer 

One of very many folk, western and bluegrass groups at Festival

Lynn and I attended a bluegrass workshop before the concert

We took a day trip from Sheridan WY to Buffalo WY one day to attend the Big Horn Mountain Festival. It was attended by all the local western and bluegrass bands as well as some brought in from eastern states way over in Virginia and South Carolina. We knew nothing about this concert when we booked our accommodation in Sheridan WY all those months ago. When we happened to see a flyer advertising the festival, concert and musical workshops in Buffalo we were delighted, especially as I was a member of a folk and bluegrass called the "Lincoln Trio" way back in my early 20's. The group did several hundred (poorly) paid gigs during the three years of its existence. That was about a million years ago but I found some old black and white photos on my laptop which have been preserved somewhat better than yours truly!

The Lincoln Trio in concert - Left to right, Sean, Gary, Brian

Performing to Uni student audience in a Sydney folk coffee shop

I bet a lot of you never knew about this little interlude in my life prior to now. Frankly we had a ball and it was wonderful to receive a little cash for something we would willingly have done for free. We managed to get booked for a few television performances during that time, signed a recording contract with the RCA company and made two records. Only one was released. The Lincoln Trio eventually broke up when each of the group became seriously in love with ladies who figured there were more interesting things to do rather than hang around in pubs and clubs whilst their boyfriends were back stage getting organised for a performance and tuning their instruments. Besides right about then my daytime employer of the time transferred me to the Melbourne Branch office. My performing days were sadly over. As a footnote I'm pleased to add that each of we guys chose well and about 45 years later we are still married to those same lovely ladies.

Independence Day in a Wyoming highway gas station. Unfortunately the town fireworks were cancelled due to extreme fire conditions.

We lay on some nice green grass and listened to the Sheridan WY town band play popular and patriotic music in lieu of fireworks.

We had intended to attend a big Independence Day fireworks display on the evening of July 4th but sadly it was cancelled due to the very extreme heat and dire fire conditions. In the end we had to settle for laying on the grass in a city park listening to the local Sheridan Community Band pump out a few popular numbers to a fairly sparse audience just before nightfall on a stinking hot evening.

We had a close shave along the highway to Buffalo.... GROAN !!

Woodworking craftsman in Sheridan WY parkland

Well, that's an abbreviated account of this week. Next week we'll be heading further south and I'll do my best to update you on that as soon as possible.