Downhill time…and up hill…and downhill…and up hill…

So here’s the thing about a huge chunk of the Wild West. It looks like this:

Every time I cruise through this wide open land I think of all those places in the world where we keep hearing that people are living overcrowded and have no room to breathe. Brother, they could breathe here. Well, depending on the altitude. (shaking my fist at my continual nemesis…thin air)

This one is in Idaho. So is this one:

Space…once again a frontier.

Now I suppose someone owns all this. They probably wouldn’t want to donate it. But  geez, it seems like such a waste to just have it all hanging out there.

The other thought that crossed my mind as we drove through hundreds of miles of dead brown land in Utah and Wyoming was an historical one. What if you were a young lady from Pennsylvania or Kentucky or Indiana and your husband insisted on taking you west by wagon train to a place that looked like this? I mean, really?  “My dearest, we now own 36 acres of this scrubby barren land. All our own. Isn’t that wonderful?”

I think I’d have been telling him to pack me back on the next train east. Speaking of trains…out here they double-deck them:

Reno is a delight, thanks to a sweet young lady named Penelope. 🙂

Nana and Penne

We didn’t have nearly long enough to get to know each other, but I’mhoping this is the first of many visits to come. Her smiles are radiant; her mother and father practically glow in the dark from lack of sleep, but she’s just turned three months old, and she’ll be on track before you know it. I’m just pleased we met.

On the way home at last…and we change plans at the last minute to avoid wildfires in Colorado.Arches National Park will wait for us another day. Our detour through Utah takes us many places…across the Oregon Trail, through a lot of high desert, where we found these silent sentinels:

Then we came across the Bonneville Salt Flats , which are an awesome sight–just white all across the desert, almost like snow or a sandy beach, but when you walk down to it, it’s a crunchy crust of salt. A very different vista, and one that leads shortly to the Great Salt Lake and the desalinization plants.  The next couple of days we spent tuned to the news, trying to make sure we didn’t catch up with the fires.

I heard something about a C-130 crashingvery near where we were in the Black Hills, working in the effort to put the fires down.:(  We saw huge swaths of burnt ground and a couple of places where fires were actively burning. Here’s hoping for a good dose of rain to get them all put out!

We make our second visit to Mount Rushmore this trip, securing E’s big X on his bucket list. Little Miss showed him all around, even under the mountain in the workshop. Because of the holiday, they had actors portraying the four presidents, walking around and greeting people in full historical costume in 100-degree weather. Bless their overworked hearts.

We leave you with the quintessential picture of Little Miss…destressing in her usual manner: