Saturday, July 11, 2009

My trip to "God's Country" - aka Wyoming

As some of you reading this may already know, I took a trip to Wyoming last weekend to visit my boyfriend Anthony and to meet his family. I left from SeaTac on Thursday morning, went first to Denver, waited around there for quite some time, and then flew to the Yellowstone Regional Airport in Cody, Wyoming. It's one of those really small, dinko airports that can only take planes smaller than a Boeing 737. In fact, on my plane, as we were getting ready to taxi out to the runway in Denver, the stewardess had to ask a few of the big guys sitting in the front of the plane to move to the back - otherwise we might not be able to get off the ground. That's how small it was. Anyway, it was a very bumpy trip, and we got in about a half hour later than expected. I got off the plane and was immediately wowed by how beautiful the scenery was. One of the most prominent landmarks to catch the eye is Heart Mountain. There is some debate as to why it's called this - some say it looks like a heart, others that it was named after some guy whose name was Heart. At any rate, it's quite impressive.

So then I got into the airport, and there was Anthony waiting for me, and of course I was very happy to see him. It was about a 25 minute drive to his house from Cody, through a lot of flat, wide open area covered with fields mostly of grass. A lot of the farmers in that area, including his family, grow and sell grass seed. We finally got to his house at about 8:30, where I was bombarded by a stampede of little girls all anxious to meet me (he has 5 younger sisters). So in the midst of the flurry I met four of the sisters, his younger brother Peter, and both of his parents, and we sat around in the house and talked for about an hour before bedtime.

The next day was quite busy. Mr. and Mrs. Spiering and Anthony get up at 6 a.m. every morning to go irrigate, and then breakfast is usually around 7:30. I got up for breakfast, and then Anthony took me on a big tour of the farm. I saw all of their different garages and shops and tractor storage sheds and granaries, and then we drove around the farm (I believe they have close to 700 acres now) in what they call a mule - it's kind of like a high-powered off-roader golf cart.

I saw a lot of different kinds of grass growing on that tour. I managed to learn some of them, but there are a lot I still don't know. I can recognize several kinds, like alfalfa, smooth brome, Indian rice grass, and Ephraim crested wheat grass, but there a lot more kinds than that. I also saw the two different irrigation techniques they use. One is siphon tubes - by covering one end of the siphon tube with your hand, thus cutting off the air pressure at that end, you can get water to flow from the big irrigation ditch at the edge of the field up through the siphon tube and down into the corrugations (rows). There's definitely a special touch you have to acquire to be able to get them going, and I still don't have it, though I managed to do a few while I was there.
The other way of irrigating (and this way is much easier) is gated pipe. Instead of the water going down the edge of the field in a big ditch, it runs through a pipe which has little doors, or "gates" every two feet or so in the side of it that you can open and close, thus allowing the water to run out of the pipe and down into the corrugations. You can also control the flow of water better this way, as you can adjust how much you open the gates.

After my farm tour, Anthony and I went to visit the Harders, friends of ours who used to live in the Seattle area and now live about a quarter of a mile down the road from the Spierings. They were very happy to see us, and showed us around their farm and house. They've got chickens and goats and sheep, and I think maybe a cow, though I'm not sure. Anyway, it was a fun visit.

After lunch, Anthony took me on a big scenic drive through the Beartooth Mountains, which are to the northwest of them. In the end we arrived in Red Lodge, Montana, where we had dinner, but at least half the fun was just the drive itself. We went there by way of a very roundabout scenic highway, and what with all the stops we made at different viewpoints, it took us about four hours to get from his house to Red Lodge. It was a very enjoyable drive, with tons of beautiful scenery.

When we finally did get to Red Lodge, we had dinner at a pizza place called Bogart's. The pizza was really good, even though we were restricted to cheese due to the fact that it was Friday. After that we made a visit to the Montana Candy Emporium just down the street, whereat we purchased jelly beans, variety barrel candy, and a nice chunk of mint chocolate fudge. We then proceeded home by the direct route, which only took about an hour.

After we got back to his house, we and some of his family watched a DVD recording of the musical that our choir at TAC had done this spring, "Princess Ida." I thought it turned out fairly well for the most part, though I now know what our director is talking about when he's constantly telling me to sing more loudly... It was quite late by the time that got over, so everyone went right to bed.

On Saturday I got up early to go irrigating with Anthony, and after that the whole family bundled into the van and drove into Powell to go to Mass. When we got home we had brunch, and then got ready to go to a barbeque at a relative's house in Cody, and after that to go swimming and canoeing at a nearby lake. So we all got swim suits and life jackets and all the canoes and paddles, loaded up the big trailer, and hooked it onto the back of the van.

So after everyone was ready, we drove into Cody to the barbeque, where I met a lot more cousins and relatives and both sets of grandparents. Amazingly enough, I remember all 9 of Anthony's siblings' names, and all 12 of his cousins' names! I don't know how I managed that. Anyway, I was very pleased to discover on surveying the food table that someone other than my Mom makes raspberry coolwhip salad, also known simply as "pink salad." We stayed at the barbeque "long enough to be polite," as Anthony put it, and then the Spiering kids and all the cousins (and me, of course) went to the lake and swam and canoed and generally had a marvelous time the whole rest of the afternoon.
After arriving back at the house from all of that, Anthony and I went irrigating again, which took a little while due to the fact that someone had turned off the water supply to the field that we were supposed to irrigate, so we had to turn it back on and then wait for about a half hour for enough water to get all the way from the head of the supply down to that particular field. Once it got there we were setting out siphon tubes, and I had just set one successfully on the very first try when hey presto, I tripped over the edge of the big irrigation ditch and fell *splash* right into the middle of it and got completely soaking wet and cut my hands a little bit. I must have looked quite a sight standing forlornly in the middle of the ditch with water up to my thighs, soaking wet and trying not to laugh TOO hard at myself. Oh well, apparently it happens to everyone at least once. So after we finally finished doing everything, we came back and joined the party that had already begun, with loads of fireworks and food and drink and all kinds of merriment. Their whole family and all of the cousins were there, and there were kids with fireworks *everywhere*. We stayed up quite late that night engaging in attempts to light off eight artillery shells at once, as well as shooting each other to pieces in Saturn missile battery wars. What a night!
The next morning Anthony and I got up early to irrigate, except this time instead of going in the pickup truck we went on one of his Dad's motorcycles. THAT was fun, whipping down the dirt roads in the early morning sunrise with the breeze in your hair, admiring all the beautiful scenery and changing the water from one set of corrugations to the next. I kept thinking to myself that this was the life - getting up early and working and enjoying the wonderful views and the wonderful company... :) I was very happy. After we returned from that the whole family went to Mass, and then came home and had brunch, and then, sadly, it was time for me to go. So I said goodbye to them all and got in Anthony's car, and he took me to the Cody airport, where I said goodbye to him, and then flew to Salt Lake City and then back to SeaTac.
All in all, it was a fantastic long weekend, and one which I'll remember for a long time. His family was so sweet, and I loved them all. One of his little sisters in particular, the seven year old, attached herself to me very quickly and followed me everywhere, calling me pretty and asking if I was in love with Anthony. It was extremely cute. The little five year old girl was adorable also. She was really shy at first, but pretty soon she warmed up to me and talked and talked and played peek-a-boo, and followed me around. Just all in all they are a wonderful family.
Anyway, there are many things to do today, including laying out bark on all of our flower beds. Dad ordered a very large pile which was dumped on our driveway at 8 a.m. this morning, half of which is still there. I was already out there for a while earlier this morning, spreading bark all over one of the larger beds, but apparently there's still a lot of work to be done. So, I will sign off for the present. God Bless, and have a good weekend!


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home