Jimmy Lowe.jpg

Jimmy Lowe

While Daughter Number Two and her family were roaming through Wyoming, I was at home, more than a thousand miles away. They were inside their van, on a lookout for moose and on a watchout for bears. I was sitting in our sunroom and on the lookout for pesky squirrels that climb a backyard tree to eat little green apples. The Out West travelers were hoping to make photos through the vehicle’s windows. I was hoping to make the squirrels go away by slapping the sunroom’s windows.

There were three reasons why I wasn’t with our daughter, granddaughters, and son-in-law. 1) My wife and I had made a trip that way a few years ago. 2) We were still a bit too concerned about the possibility of contracting a virus to feel comfortable about a long road trip. 3) And anyway, they never actually issued an invitation to join them. So we remained home to follow their adventures through texts, photos, videos, live-streams, and a variety of modern methods for communicating from here to there. We enjoyed the frequent updates we received from the road.

“We’re in the Badlands,” a granddaughter reported. “They’re incredible.” An accompanying picture came with the text. The Badlands didn’t look bad at all with a couple of good looking granddaughters posed there.

“Give us a heads-up when you get to Mount Rushmore,” I said.

They told us of seeing buffalo at Custer State Park. “Been there-done that,” I responded. “Now be careful! We want you back home safe and sound.” When I said that, I was thinking more about chance encounters with wild animals than chance encounters with the virus.

Photos came from several stops over several days, picturing critters other than squirrels. There were Bighorn sheep, elk, moose, wolf, coyote and bear. In one photo of a big bison grazing, a small prairie dog could be seen keeping its eyes on the big fellow.

We didn’t have to go to our mailbox for postcards that had been sent days before. We only had to watch the screens on our phones for real time views of waterfalls, canyons and snow-capped mountains. The teenage granddaughter is proving to be an accomplished photographer with a gifted eye for composition. Along with making fine selfies, the family was making fine memories.

Because of a National Park promotion, our fourth-grade granddaughter was able to get the whole family in free. Her dad would present a pass at each National Park’s entrance and the young gal would wave from the van’s back seat for identification.

“It’s been wonderful,” the granddaughter summarized. “Just a few days ago, I didn’t know what wonderful experiences we were going to have! Just think what wonderful experiences we are going to have that we don’t know about yet.”

Much of what they described seemed to match what my wife and I had enjoyed during our trip there. Then, somewhere near Yellowstone, they spent a few days at a ranch. As those on-the-scene impressions were shared, I became almost as excited as they were about discovering the place. The ranch was new to me, and I was interested to hear what they had to say about it. They talked of kayaking on the water, of fishing and of riding horses through the mountain trails. They told about hiking from their cozy cabin to vistas up high on a mountain and about pleasant bonfires at night. They talked about delicious muffins and fresh-squeezed orange juice that came with their breakfasts, delivered to their cabin porch in the mornings. Yep, I was ready to venture there myself.

The youngest granddaughter told us about making “new, special friends” with the ranch owners and wranglers. She even made friends with the horses, all of which were named for characters in “Lonesome Dove.” The oldest granddaughter said she wanted to go back to the ranch and work during her summer breaks from college.

“We love Wyoming!” one said, and they all agreed.

In one posting, our daughter wrote, “We’re having such a wonderful time, we may never come home.”

When they return and we get to hear more about their adventures, I want detailed suggestions so my wife and I can plan a few days at that ranch. I can’t stay here and keep an eye on the squirrels forever.

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