Thursday, October 23, 2008

Colorado Trip - Part 8

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Saturday morning, Mike’s in a funk but we’ve got work to do. First, we need to get my deer quartered up and in the coolers. We get the camera out first because it was dark last night when we finally had a chance to look her over. Unfortunately, with the cold last night, she has stiffened up in such a way as that it was very difficult to take a decent picture.

Now, it’s been 20 years since I cut up my own deer. With my hectic schedule I usually just take my deer into the butchers and pick it up when it’s done. Mike is the teacher here. We get the doe hanging in the barn and Mike helps me get her skinned. Once skinned out, Mike points out the different muscle groups that will provide the “guides” for cutting out the various different sections of meat. Cutting out the back straps we observe that this doe was in perfect health, the meat looks clean and we see no indications of disease. I had brought a vacuum sealer to process any meat we harvested but unfortunately it was damaged on the “Insane Willy” drive. We decided to cut out the back straps and loins and then quarter out the shoulders and hind quarters. We wrapped them all up in plastic bags and got them in the cooler with ice. After we clean up we jump on the quads for the last time and head down to see if we can pick up the trail of Mikes doe. We locate the last spot were we found an indication of blood and canvas the area. No luck. This doe is long gone and running around some place. We spend about an hour looking and then head back to the camp. It’s time to load up.

We get my quad loaded into the back of Mike’s truck and then hook the trailer up and start loading all our gear. After we’re done we grab quick showers and clean up the cabin. One long last look around, our thoughts quietly reminiscing about what we’ve experienced here and then we get in the truck and reluctantly pull away from an Adventure we’ll never forget.

We’ve got a long drive in front of us but we’ve got a plan. We’re going to head north to Wyoming and then across to Nebraska, stop at Cabelas in Sydney to return some of the items we purchased for elk hunting that we didn’t need and then it’s homeward bound.

We get into Wyoming and get on highway 70. We stop in Encampment, a little sneeze of a town, population 100. A couple restaurants, a gas station and a party store. In the party store we pickup some snacks for the road… Imagine the late 60’s early 70’s, the owner is a weathered, long hair in a pony tail, beret and denim vest wearing fellow whom we’d guess grew his own medicinals…polite and easy mannered. After a short conversation about local hunting and fishing we get on the road again. As we head towards the mountains we start seeing herds and herds of pronghorns. They are everywhere.
When we get to 130 we’ve got a choice of staying on 70/130 north until we get to interstate 80 or we can turn East on 130 and go through Medicine Bow National Park and get to I-80 at Laramie… I told Mike to flip a coin. Heads we turn and tails we continue north…Heads. I think that coin was exactly what Mike needed. We head into the National Park. We notice that it seems like every turn off has trucks and campers parked in them. It’s the start of Elk gun season on Monday and hunters are packing in to the park in droves.

We also note that we’re still in the free ranging cattle area…they are all over the place, including right next to the highway with no fences…careful driving is required since our cooler is full.

Our first stop in the National Park is at The Continental Divide. Another photo opportunity. Mike has to call his mom from the top of the Divide…she’s not home so he leaves a message. We’re standing on the top of the Divide, In the Rockies, what a view.

We continue driving through the beautiful and winding roads until Mike sees a park stopping area and decides to stop. It’s Lake St. Marie and if you ever get a chance to go through Medicine Bow National Park you need to stop and look around at Lake St. Marie…It’s inspirational and can provide a little peace for your soul.

We walk down to the lake and simply stare at the sight of the water and the immense mountain cliff on the other side. Snow can be seen on the peaks. The water is crystal clear and cold. Fish are surfacing all across the lake making ripples, moving the water. Unfortunately, it’s overcast. You can imagine what the view would be like if the sun was shining down on the lake and reflecting from the snow. Reluctantly, we climb back into the truck and continue on our journey.

After we stop for gas our next major stop is at the Sydney Nebraska Cabelas. We return some stuff and pick some goodies up for the kids. We gas up again and we’re on the road. Now if we didn’t mention it before, as we’re coming down in elevation from over 10,000 feet in Medicine Bow National Park to 4000 feet in Eastern Nebraska…it’s nothing but corn fields and corn fields and corn… and corn. We run into rain again but it’s short lived and the sun puts in an entrance for the rest of the afternoon.

It’s been a busy, stressful, aggravating, exciting, emotional and wonderful trip. The drive home is a long one but helps us put into perspective our thoughts and feelings we’re experiencing. Tomorrow, we’ll try and put together a podcast for the UpNorthJournal. Tonight we’ll take turns driving and putting our thoughts together on what this trip has meant to each of us and what we’re taking home from it.

Next – Sunday, Home and Final Thoughts.
BTW : HAPPY BIRTHDAY MIKE... you caught up to me again!

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