Friday, September 24, 2010

A Visit to the West




Cowpoke Cupcake, acrylic/collage, 4 x 4
Elizabeth W. Seaver


No, I haven't travelled to Wyoming.  I stayed home.  But my cupcake has a much more highly developed sense of adventure than I do.  Most of my creations do.

I have been to Wyoming, however.  It was many years ago now, my children, when I was a small girl.  We stayed on a dude ranch near the Crazy Woman Creek.  It was owned by my dad's cousin, and his operation ran horseback trips up into the mountains.  My guess is that their customers were mostly city folks who wanted to have an authentic western experience.  

We kids were judged too young to go on next pack trip which coincided with our visit to the ranch.  We were feeling forlorn at being left behind and a bit envious of my father who got to go.  Grown-ups have all the fun.  Dad was a last minute addition to their number, and since the horses had already been assigned, he was to ride a pack mule.  I remember watching my father, vacationing clergyman, disappearing up the dusty trail.  He was just managing to stay on the mule's back, I think, and not too enthusiastic about making this trip.  He tried to sketch us a sweeping farewell with his hat and spooked his mount, who lurched forward suddenly, making my father drop his hat.  One of the young riders had to retrieve it because no self-respecting cowboy goes on an overnight ride without his hat, and Dad had all he could do to stay perched on the fractious mule.

During our stay at the ranch, we camped alongside a stream which provided our water, swimming, bathing, and fishing.  My brother, an avid fisherman, provided lots of little bony fish for several meals.  Mom rolled them in cornmeal and fried them over the Coleman stove--with the heads on.  

"You will eat this because your brother caught it!"  

Well, I get the whole if you catch it, you eat it thing, and I agree with it in principle.  But, friends, let me tell you, I had a hard time eating something that was looking back at me from my plate.  And all the bones!  How could such a small creature have so many bones?

My job was to wash the dishes in a tub on the metal camp table we ate around.  There exists a stellar picture of me, biddable child that I was, looking like I have just cried a river and the storm clouds were still hanging around.  I didn't want to do the dishes!!

We went on at least three of these month-long car trips on my father's vacation each July.  On this particular trip we also saw Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons among many other fabulous sights in the western US.  I know those trips must have been hell on my parents.  But they took us to see some of our amazing country, and we traveled the only way we could afford to, in a Rambler station wagon with all our camping gear inside.  I'm so glad they bothered.  I've got some indelible memories.

There was the time our Rambler, underpowered for the mountains we were climbing (it was a coastal plains car, after all!) got slower and slower as we approached the crest.  When we finally got out on a straight stretch of road and looked behind us, there was a line of cars following us for as far as we could see, not having been able to pass us. We did not check the local radio stations to see whether we'd made the traffic report.

One long, rainy, long, travel day, the windshield wipers gave out.  My mom got soaked leaning out the passenger side window pushing the wipers with a wooden spoon, so my dad could see to drive.  We finally stopped and my father tied a string from the driver's side wiper, threading it through the window into the back seat.  My brother, sister and I took turns pulling on the string to make the wipers wipe.  Seems like a simple job right?  Well, the wiper puller had to pay very close attention NOT to get the string hung up on my dad's glasses.  We drove five hundred miles that rainy day.  

Boy were our arms tired!

28 comments:

Jean Spitzer said...

A delight! A cupcake with some miles on it?

Elizabeth Seaver said...

Hi, Jean: It's a long way to Wyoming from here!

Sparrowhawk said...

nice cupcake and interesting write up!

RHCarpenter said...

Having just returned from the place, I was thrilled to hear your stories about being there - and now feel like my trip that was so dry and then so cold...wasn't that bad at all, compared to your trip! ha ha However, it was the cupcake that enticed me over this morning as I eat my Cheerios and wish for a nice, moist cupcake instead :)

Elizabeth Seaver said...

Hi, Sparrowhawk: Thanks for your visit and kind words.

Elizabeth Seaver said...

Hi, Rhonda: Well, the longer the trip and the more strange people you have along with you, the richer the pickings for stories. Believe me, they were long trips with strange people, not all of them were in the car with us. Having said that, the journeys were lots of fun and great to look back on.

I only dream about cupcakes, too. I am really sure in my heart that the cereal tastes SO much better....

Anna said...

Boy did your story bring back memories of our moving trips. Always driving and camping to my Dad's next post. But the windshield wiper story!?!? You win the prize. A cupcake maybe??

Incognito said...

Excellent story and so visual. Crazy Woman Creek is a creek after my own crazy heart. Thank you; keep writing.

Elizabeth Seaver said...

Hi, Anna! I'll take a cupcake! Anytime....

I think your traveling companions were not strange enough, perhaps!

Elizabeth Seaver said...

Howdy, Incognito: Thanks for the encouragement!

Linda Hensley said...

Great story, and cupcakes are always great! I'm having flashbacks to my own childhood, including crying a river over having to wash the dishes. Thanks for stopping at my site too.

curiouscrow said...

You deserve that cupcake yourself - what a great story about the windscreen wipers!

bricarwaller said...

Terrific! Your works are always a visual treat, and this one especially. Your story was great too. Wonderfully, whimsical!

Elizabeth Seaver said...

Hi, Linda: Childhood isn't just playing all day is it? It's work!

Thanks for coming by my blog and taking the time to leave a comment.

Elizabeth Seaver said...

Hi, CuriousCrow: Doesn't everyone have stories like mine? Perhaps we were just lucky in our car purchases. Wait until I talk about our VW bus!

Elizabeth Seaver said...

Thanks for stopping by, Bricarwaller. You always say such encouraging things.

Beth Niquette said...

Thank you so much for dropping by, and for your kind comment about my daisy pic! lol

LOVE your cupcake pic on map and the story was delightful.

Elizabeth Seaver said...

Hi, Beth--thank you so much for the return visit. What a nice thing! I appreciate your kind remarks, too.

Country Mouse Studio said...

wonderful story,so well written, I enjoyed it very much and I love the cupcake too!

Elizabeth Seaver said...

Hi, Carole: I am so glad you enjoyed my childhood stories and my cupcake. East, west, north, south, a cupcake is always best!

Linda Popple said...

Love your cupcake! But that story is soooo funny! Maybe we should all have our windshield wipers powered by humans! Sounds like good exercise for the arms! :-)

Elizabeth Seaver said...

You might want to work up to a 500 mile trip, though, Linda, unless the arms are very young! Perhaps I will patent the "Windshield Wiper Workout." What do you think?

Kelley Carey MacDonald said...

I love your stories ALMOST as much as I love your creativity! Adorable cupcake, and I know from whence I speak....

Elizabeth Seaver said...

Hey, Kelley! Thanks for great comments and your visit to my blog. I appreciate it.

Bella Sinclair said...

Hello, hello, hello! Oh my goodness, what a delight you are! If there ever was a cupcake the size of Wyoming, I'd move there in a heartbeat. I LOVE your art! I love your fanciful bird characters in the most enchanting poses. And the hippo! Ah, love.

I laughed at your story. Almost sounds National Lampoonish, but in the very best way. :D Gotta love a place that names a creek after an insane female. And the window wiper story! HAHAHA! When I was little, my parents packed us up in a little Toyota without AC and drove from Los Angeles to New York and back again. There probably were times when our parents wanted to throttle us, but some of my best memories are from that very long car ride.

Have a great weekend!

Elizabeth Seaver said...

Bella! Thanks so much for your enthusiastic comment. Who knew such memory magic could be made by cooping up family in too small cars, air-conditioned by rolling down the windows?

I will say, though I have fond memories of the car trips, I avoid camping like the plague. Well, wouldn't you if every time you slept in a tent, it seemed to call down a monsoon on the area? Bugging out of state parks in the middle of the night quickly loses its charm, I'll tell you!

Dorothy said...

I love it! I notice you didn't share the stories about the stomach virus that you and John got. :D

Elizabeth Seaver said...

No, you know how I feel about upchuck. I think that story is better left where it is!

There was actually quite a bit I left out. You'll have to help me remember some more! I needed the belly laughs we shared last night over our childhood escapades--and the suitcases left in the driveway...