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!