Shoot, Shoot, Shoot

That’s The Way It Was Series

My camera seemed to be screaming at me… “SHOOT!! SHOOT!! SHOOT!! DON’T MUDDLE IT UP THIS TIME”!! It seems I might have a unique bond with my camera, and I have often felt like it was “talking” or at least communicating with me, but on this day it seemed to scream.

I was on a field trip with OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) through Casper College. We were at the Mormon Handcart Historic Site southwest of Casper, Wyoming, visiting Martin’s Cove. The class received the VIP treatment as we were allowed to ride on “mules” with drivers who very well informed. These are 4 wheel drive carts much like golf carts with a top over the seats and the sides are open. We saw several interesting historical spots and learned much about Martin’s Cove. If you get a chance, go explore it, but that’s not what I’m writing about.

I suspect many photographers have a unique relationship with their camera, but I don’t know of any who readily admit that their camera “talks” probably because they are too embarrassed. I have named mine “Cam”, not very creative but easy for me to remember. He’s of the masculine gender. Cam and I have interesting “conversations” from time to time. He’s also one of my greatest critics, but that’s ok as I can turn him off when I don’t want to listen — he does have an on/off switch. This time it was not a conversation but a demand.

As the “mule” I was assigned was driven down the path, we saw some American Pronghorns. Wyomingites know them as Antelope or some call them Goats. I thought I’d get the standard portrait type photo, which I did. Cam’s light meter indicated a braced shot at1/50 sec, f/5.6, ISO 100 should be ok. I took his word for it as I was in a hurry. Antelope tend to run off when I fool around with the settings for too long. Thus, Cam’s warning not to muddle it. The lens was at focal length 135mm. I made a few photos of this beautiful, large horned, buck who was just standing, posing, and peering at us with a questioning look, as Antelope tend to do. He probably was wondering “what are these annoying humans doing out here riding around in the rain?” Cam agreed.

Without notice the buck planted his hind legs, dug his hooves into the muddy ground, and sprinted off in front of me. That’s when Cam screamed, “SHOOT, SHOOT, SHOOT AND DON’T MUDDLE IT”. I was already viewing the scene through the view finder from taking the portrait pictures. Instinct or muscle memory or something seemed to kick in as I followed the buck and panned the camera with the scene unfolding in front of me, releasing the shutter button several times in the process. The buck quickly ran out of range. I whispered to Cam, “I think I did it”. (I don’t think anyone noticed that short comment to Cam.) Cameras can’t normally smile but I bet Cam did in its own way. I know I did.

The photo above is one from that short series of shots. His head, eyes, horns, and much of the upper body are in focus caused by moving the camera at the same relative speed as the antelope. His sprinting legs and hooves are blurred as is the background. The blurring gives the photo a sense of motion and action. This is what panning helps to create.

This day gave Cam and I one more fun opportunity together. I didn’t seem to ‘muddle it’.

And that’s the way it was on that cloudy, rainy day in Wonderful Wyoming.

Thank you for reading about my experience. Please go to the bottom of this post and rate it and leave a comment.

This photo can be purchased in various sizes as prints or framed at https://fineartamerica.com/featured/sprinting-antelope-sam-sherman.html. Browse through my other photos.  https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/sam-sherman.html
You can also view new photos as I post them on my Facebook page at   Scenic Photography By Sam Sherman. Please feel free to like and follow my page.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Corral Excitement!!

They were racing in circles as I stood there by the corral’s gray log rails viewing them through my camera lens. The horses were kicking up dust, rushing by me, and beautiful.  I was thrilled to be at the Willow Creek Ranch at the Hole-in-the-Wall near Kaycee, Wyoming, at Adam Jahiel’s Photo Workshop photographing these splendid animals at this western ranch.  I had my dependable Canon 60D tight in my hands and up to my eye so I could view, shoot, and capture images of these magnificent animals as they ran past me.

It was a dry, awe-inspiring, sunny, September morning in 2015. I was leaning on an old log corral to steady myself. The worn rails were silver-grey and weather cracked, but sturdy. The horses were racing in circles by me kicking up fine, red dust. The morning sidelight was contouring their bodies and exaggerating the delicate, powdery particles of dirt.

I “cheated” a little and had the camera set to shoot more than one shot as I pressed the shutter release button on my camera. Some people call it the “machine gun” approach, but my old camera wasn’t shooting that many continuous pictures. It was not a machine gun.  I composed quickly and watched through the lens, then clicked as the horses ran by each round.

This was one of the most exciting and fun times I had ever had with my camera. I was actually living a dream I didn’t even know I had until it happened. I truly enjoy photographing horses, cowboys/cowgirls, dirt, dust, action, cows, more horses, sunlight, old barns and wooden rail corrals.   Sounds, action, exhilaration, and anticipation happening each moment added to the experience.

Below is my favorite photograph from that morning. I think it illustrates what I felt. I used a high ISO of 400 to help capture action a little easier. The 1/500 second shutter speed was fast enough to freeze these critters’ actions in this confined space. An f/14 aperture made for a little more depth-of-field. The lens was a Canon 18-135 set at 38mm.

All in all I felt both lucky and charmed to have captured this scene.  To this day, the sunshine, horses, cowboys and dust continue in my soul.

Thank you for reading  my experience. When I publish these blog posts, it will be erratic.  Consequently, if you would like to receive notices of when I post new blog stories/photos, please send me your e-mail address at photowyoming@yahoo.com.  Your  e-mail address will be kept in strict privacy.  I do not sell or give away e-mail addresses.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

This photo can be purchased in various sizes as prints or framed at https://fineartamerica.com/featured/corral-excitement-in-wyoming-sam-sherman.html

Please go to my photographic artist web site, and browse through my other photos.  https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/sam-sherman.html

You can also view new photos as I post them on my Facebook page at   Scenic Photography By Sam Sherman. Please feel free to like and follow my page.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fun! Fun! Fun! Reflections and Self Portraits

The Beach Boys’ harmonious voices rang out as their song “Fun, Fun, Fun” was echoing from the public address throughout the Natrona County Fairgrounds as I entered to begin enjoying the 2015 Oil Capitol Auto Club Cruising with the Oldies Car Show. I was with the Casper Photography Association for their May field trip. Several of us began circulating with our cameras. What fun could I get into today?

A Pentax 645D with a 45-85 lens hung around my neck. A tripod was clutched in my hand ready for use. There must have been 300 shiny old cars. Some were T-Birds such as the Beach Boys envisioned when they wrote their song, the public address still blasting their beautiful clear tune. As I viewed a handsome, shiny, T-Bird and listened to the Beach Boys, I imagined it cruising to the hamburger stand, daddy’s daughter at the wheel, radio blasting, the library forgotten, to have fun, fun, fun ….

I planned to enjoy the car show’s hamburger stand, but first I began to make photographs of some of the glamorous old autos. I wandered around totally amazed at what the individual auto owners had done. But I think what amazed me most was that each auto had a perfectly bright shine even if the weather had been rainy and miserable for the past several days. I leisurely drifted about setting up the tripod and photographing several different cars.

One old vintage vehicle that caught my attention was this charming, shiny, red Dodge. It was fascinating not only as a beautifully reconstructed vintage automobile but the polish made it shine probably brighter than the day it rolled off the assembly line. The owner had done a marvelous job of preparing it to show.

_IGP1133.M

Continuing my stroll between the autos, I began to notice ornate make and model emblems, fins, and fancy wheels. These lured me in for close-up photos. This Mustang wheel’s beauty just screamed at me for a closeup photograph.

_IGP1149.M.S.Mustang wheel

As I maneuvered in for other closeup photos, pesky reflections from those highly polished surfaces kept getting in the way of my photography. I tried shooting from different angles to eliminate the reflections. That worked but seemed to destroy some of the compositions. Exasperated, I finally just shot a reflection of myself. It didn’t look bad when I review it in the preview window. I thought it was kinda interesting! I had just created a self portrait.

_IGP1145.M.S.Red reflection

Finding self-portrait reflections turned out to be a fun task, and I began spending more time searching for self portrait reflections.

_IGP1150.M.S.crop reflection

_IGP1151.M.S.reflection

_IGP1158.M.S.reflection

Lesson learned!! Just because a photographer comes for one thing, it doesn’t mean he can’t find something else special to photograph. The challenge is to look around, explore, and find the unusual. Then shoot, shoot, shoot…. or as the Beach Boys would sing, “have fun, fun, fun”.

As I left the auto show, another Beach Boys song was playing. “When I take her to the track, she really shines (Giddy up giddy up 409).” The Oil Capital Auto Club had put on a great show and many of their vintage autos really shined.

Like my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ScenicPhotography

For more of my photographs, check out these two web sites:
http://sam-sherman.artistwebsite
http://SamSherman.imagekind.com/

Here are the lyrics to the two Beach Boys songs I mentioned in the article:

Beach Boys – Fun, Fun, Fun Lyrics
Well she got her daddy’s car
And she cruised to the hamburger stand now
Seems she forgot all about the library
Like she told her old man now
And with the radio blasting
Goes cruising just as fast as she can now

And she’ll have fun, fun, fun
Till her daddy takes the t-bird away
(Fun, fun, fun till her daddy takes the t-bird away)

Well the girls can’t stand her
‘Cause she walks, looks, and drives like an ace now
(You walk like an ace now, you walk like an ace)
She makes the Indy 500 look like a Roman chariot race now
(You look like an ace now, you look like an ace)
A lotta guys try to catch her
But she leads them on a wild goose chase now
(You drive like an ace now, you drive like an ace)

And she’ll have fun, fun, fun
Till her daddy takes the t-bird away
(Fun, fun, fun till her daddy takes the t-bird away)

Well you knew all along
That your dad was gettin’ wise to you now
(You shouldn’t have lied now, you shouldn’t have lied)
And since he took your set of keys
You’ve been thinking that your fun is all through now
(You shouldn’t have lied now, you shouldn’t have lied)

But you can come along with me
‘Cause we gotta a lot of things to do now
(You shouldn’t have lied now, you shouldn’t have lied)

And we’ll have fun, fun, fun now that daddy took the t-bird away
(Fun, fun, fun now that daddy took the t-bird away)
And we’ll have fun, fun, fun now that daddy took the t-bird away
(Fun, fun, fun now that daddy took the t-bird away)
(Fun, fun now that daddy took the t-bird away)
(Fun, fun now that daddy took the t-bird away)
(Fun, fun now that daddy took the t-bird away)
(Fun, fun now that daddy took the t-bird away)
(Fun, fun now that daddy took the t-bird away)
(Fun, fun now that daddy took the t-bird away)
Songwriters: LOVE, MICHAEL / WILSON, BRIAN
© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

409
By The Beach Boys

She’s real fine my 409
She’s real fine my 409
My 409

Well I saved my pennies and I saved my dimes
(Giddy up giddy up 409)
For I knew there would be a time
(Giddy up giddy up 409)
When I would buy a brand new 409
(409, 409)
Giddy up giddy up giddy up 409
(Giddy up giddy up 409)
Giddy up 409
(Giddy up giddy up 409)
Giddy up 409
(Giddy up giddy up 409)
Giddy up 40…

Nothing can catch her
Nothing can touch my 409
409 ooooo
(Giddy up giddy up oooo)
(Giddy up giddy up oooo)
(Giddy up giddy up oooo)
(Giddy up giddy up)

When I take her to the track she really shines
(Giddy up giddy up 409)
She always turns in the fastest times
(Giddy up giddy up 409)
My four speed dual quad posi-traction 409
(409, 409, 409, 409)

Giddy up giddy up giddy up 409
(Giddy up giddy up 409)
Giddy up 409
(Giddy up giddy up 409)
Giddy up 409
(Giddy up giddy up 409)
Giddy up 40…

Nothing can catch her
Nothing can touch my 409
(409 409 409 409)
Giddy up 409
(409 409 409 409)
Giddy up 409
(409 409 409 409)
Songwriters: USHER, GARY L/WILSON, BRIAN DOUGLAS
© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group
For non-commercial use only.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Black and White Can Be a Photographer’s Choice

Camera, lights, click the shutter, review photograph…. edit the photo….. Black and white photographs can be a final result.

I recently was on a field trip with the Casper Photography Association to Sheridan, Wyoming. Our first stop was King Ropes. Below are two color photos and their duplicates in black and white. My camera of choice that day was a Pentax 645D with a Pentax 45-85 zoom lens. The lighting was indoor, mainly dim overhead tungsten. I used a monopod to support the camera. After reviewing my results, I realized I should have used a tripod as the photos would have probably been sharper. The lighting was just too dim to keep the monopod still for a long enough time.

Photoshop was my software of choice to edit these photos but any editing software should work fine. I will not be going through each Photoshop step but will show you the first and then final photo. My purpose was to show that a person does not need to be satisfied with their first color rendition.

This is a color closeup of a saddle horn and the forks supporting it. It was a beautiful antique saddle but I failed to get the information about its history. I moved in close and used the zoom function of the lens to crop unwanted areas. I did not care for the color in this photograph after I made it. Black and white seemed a good option.

_IGP1069.M.original.S

I think this photo was much better in black and white. Of course the minor adjustments I made in Photoshop added to the end result. Basically I cropped, sharpened, straightened, and then cloned in the black background.

_IGP1069.M.b&w.strait 2.S

Ropes hanging, priced to be sold, made an interesting exhibit but the color version just didn’t cut it for me. Instead of adjusting the color and trying to come up with a better image, I made it into black and white. Again, with some cropping and sharpening, but no cloning or straightening, black and white was my choice for this photo.

_IGP1055.M.original.S

_IGP1055.M.B&W.S

If you have the capability with whatever photo editing software you own (you don’t need Photoshop), try turning some of your photos into black and white. You might like the results.

Please check out some of my photography at http://sam-sherman.artistwebsites.com/. Here you will find some black and white photographs interspersed with color photographs.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Freedom Is The River

Freedom is The River first conceived as falling snow during eons of time building deep during the long, hard, cold Winter. The Wyoming wind blowing it into heavy drifts with only the promise of fluid motion yet to come as warmer temperatures will release the freedom that is The River.

Slowly Spring begins to arrive in the high country of Wyoming. Warm winds set in motion the slow release of The River. Snow melts and drips and falls freely forming a small streamlet flowing ever more untethered and swelling with each new droplet adding water to the newly developing river.

More rivulets join the new streamlet rushing over rocks, and boulders clear and fresh and alive with freedom. Moving ever more swiftly and gathering new strength, it grows, becoming more powerful tearing at the dirt banks along its path eroding and cutting new paths. It’s becoming a mountain stream crashing, smashing and rolling pulled by gravity ever downward. The River moves freely into its future.

Melting snow creates small streams crashing over rocks and boulders gaining strength, power and freedom.

Melting snow creates small streams crashing over rocks and boulders gaining strength, power and freedom.

Ever growing from melting mountain snow.

Freedom is The River

The River grows as creeks join with the newly formed torrent. Beavers attempt to slow The River’s freedom as they build their dams of Aspen branches, Willows, and mud. The River continues finding new paths to freedom, trickling over and around the beaver’s obstruction. Growing with each new tributary the mighty River is formed. Nothing can stop the quest of freedom for The River..

Over one hundred and fifty years ago The River, passing Independence Rock, Devil’s Gate, Split Rock, and South Pass, witnessed mountain men and fur traders as they traveled to their annual summertime Rocky Mountain Rendezvous. Others would follow a few years later driving wagons pulled by stout horses or oxen. More, with a religious zeal, pulling handcarts moving west on their own trek for freedom.

Independence Rock with the Sweetwater River in the foreground.

Independence Rock with the Sweetwater River in the foreground.

Devil's Gate in the middle distance.  Sweetwater River in the foreground.

Devil’s Gate in the middle distance. Sweetwater River in the foreground.

Split Rock near South Pass.

Split Rock near South Pass.

These immigrants call The River the Sweetwater because it was the first mountain stream they tasted on their trek west. The River was sweet and savory after miles of alkali and dryness. Unfortunately these same immigrants seeking freedom would spell the doom of freedom for the American Indian who had roamed unhindered following this sweet river.

Today, The River is still mighty as its water flows toward its destiny. It is a paradise for fishermen, hunters, hikers, and photographers. One can still stand on its grassy banks and witness The River flowing unrestrained and bountiful. Freedom is The River flowing wild, unimpeded, and self ruled for eons of time to come.

Please visit my photography website at http://samsherman.imagekind.com/. Click on Galleries to discover many of my photographs.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Skeeters

“Mosquitoes!  You old duffers don’t know mosquitoes!”  I kindly mentioned while visiting with my weekly group of old duffers.  Each of us seemed to have our own mosquito tale trying to outdo the other with Alaska mosquitoes, Oklahoma mosquitoes, Arizona mosquitoes and on and on…  What a bunch of old codgers!  They had no idea of what real mosquitoes were like.  Of course, I was just the one to set them straight.

“Now listen up.  You guys are starting to sound much like a bunch of old biddies each with the most hackneyed, stale, banal stories I’ve ever heard (Sometimes I tend to exaggerate).  My tale, I mean, account, is the total truth which I can assure you.”

“Back in the day when I was in high school and worked summers for a local rancher out of Big Piney in western Wyoming, now that was when mosquitoes were bad.  Not like the little nilly willy ones that are around today or like the ones you guys have mentioned.  We had real, giant mosquitoes”.

Bob, the ranch owner, had sent John, Cuss and myself up to the Connor Place near North Horse Creek to repair fence along the forest boundary.  It was early Spring sometime in June…. Yes…. June is Spring in the Wyoming Range.  There were still snow banks melting in the warming mountain air creating gullies of runoff along with pools, sloughs, and waterholes of that fresh mountain liquid that is the life blood of Wyoming.  Without mountain snow melt in the Spring, Wyoming would be a dried up desert.  Water fresh and cool was most abundant this time of year.  Though it sure did make for multitudes of places to bred mosquitoes and monster ones at that.

Cuss was in charge of us as he was the hired man who had worked for Bob for many years.  John and I were high school kids working Summers.  As you know, it’s hard for ranchers to hire good help.  However, did you know, it’s just as hard for ranchers to hire bad help?  So here we were, bad help, but cheap.  We just hoped Cuss packed plenty of grub and bug repellent.

We were staying in what I would call a line shack.  It might have once been a nice log cabin when it was new back in the Paleolithic era.  When we arrived, it was at least still standing.  The logs hadn’t seen paint for eons and had been bleached silver grey by sun, time and weather.  The crannies between the logs had long ago lost their mud chinking making plenty of spaces to see through and you can well imagine creating passage for critters like mosquitoes or skeeters as Cuss called them.

We hauled our bed rolls and food for the week into the old shack.  It had an ancient and dilapidated cast iron wood burning stove and a beat up kitchen table with four wobbly chairs in the front room.  Jim Bridger was probably the last one to enjoy a meal on the table when he came through the area in the mid 1800’s.  The walls were covered with burned in brands from local ranches making them a great historical study if a person was of a notion to pay close attention.  We weren’t as the skeeters wouldn’t let us stand still long enough to sneak a gaze at the brands.  The front room had one nice bunk which Cuss immediately claimed. John and I were relegated to the adjoining room.  Of course we were miles from electricity, running water, and flush toilets.

Cuss pointed to where the privy was located.  It was in worse shape than the shack.  It consisted of silver-colored grey boards leaning to one side.  A crescent moon shape had been cut in the door.  I wasn’t sure it would last past the next good push of Wyoming wind. If the wind came up, well, none of us were anxious to end up in Nebraska while in a flying privy.  In addition, we could imagine the sumptuous feast on bare bottoms the skeeters would enjoy at our expense once we were behind its closed door.

Cuss told us if we wanted running water, we’d have to run down to the spring with a bucket and run water back to the shack.  Cuss also warned us of the skeeters that hung around the spring. He told us, “don’t bring any of those really, blankety blank cuss words, BIG, expletive, more dirty words,  ones back to the shack as I don’t want to have to protect you little sh_ _ s from them”.  He continued, “we haven’t seen the big ones yet and you had better not be attracting them.  I don’t want you two  ##^&*##  acting as  ###,^^&*  skeeter bait.  There’s skeeters out their big enough to carry your lard a___s off into the forest never to be seen again”.  Both John and I stood with eyes big as plates imagining the damage that a skeeter that size could do to our tender young behinds.

I opened the door to the adjoining room where John and I would toss our bed rolls.  There were a couple of old mattresses each with a skim of dirt.  Cobb webs covered the streaked windows and mouse droppings on the window sills welcomed us to our new home for the week.  Dust darkened the wooden floor.  After brushing the caked dirt off the mattresses, John and I each threw our personal gear on a bed. I grabbed an old broom that still had some of its yellowish bristles and began sweeping and scraping the dirt while swatting skeeters.  One would think I was a musician the way my arms were flailing and thrashing about trying to keep those droning, humming, buzzing beasts from landing on me.  In the back of my mind I envisioned what a really large skeeter might do to a person.

After cleaning, fixing the bedding, and devouring sandwiches,  We crawled into our blankets trying to ignore the dust, dirt, grime, and skeeters in the room.  We each had to sleep with bedding covering our heads out of fear we’d wake up with large red welts from bites or being carried off by larger bugs. Best to hide under the covers than face that. Soon, I found myself deep in sleep while a nightmare of riding and roping …  skeeters…. romped through my tortured slumbering brain.  Eventually calming, my nightmare turned into the possibility of sitting in a large bath tub while marinating in bug repellant.

Nightmares of riding and roping skeeters were all to soon interrupted with a loud, screeching voice saying, “grab your blankety, blank (lots of cuss words)  socks, you blankety blank  lazy little blankety blanks. It’s time to get your blankety blanks out of that bedroll and get out here. Breakfast is ready and if you don’t get up, I’ll feed it to the blankety blank skeeters.  They’ll probably do more f_____g work today than you will anyway.”

Cuss was not only the ramrod of our small contingent, but also a heavy smoker, a masterful cusser, and camp cook.  He was never without a cigarette protruding from his mouth even while cooking.  He lit his first smoke before he crawled out of his bed roll which created more fog that I suppose helped protect him from skeeters.

As I crawled out of my sleeping bag, smelling the delicious cooking aromas coming from the kitchen, I noticed what appeared to be an extra large skeeter as big as a rat in the corner.  In my waking fuzziness, he seemed to wiggle his wings and stick his fisted front feet in his ears apparently trying to block out Cuss’s cussing.  He finally vanished towards the the kitchen as he apparently heard the words that Cuss was going to feed breakfast to the skeeters if we didn’t crawl out and get to breakfast.  I wasn’t sure I was awake yet or not.

John and I joined Cuss in the kitchen.  Cuss stood over a hot cast iron skillet with over easy eggs frying. Bacon sizzled next to each egg, and sliced sheep herder spuds were browning in a separate pan.  The wood burning stove radiated warmth on this cool mountain morning.  John and I huddled next to the stove and absorbed not only the heat but the delectable bouquet of fragrance from the breakfast Cuss had whipped up.

With his beat up Stetson pushed  back on his head, he elbowed us aside puffing his stubby cigarette with ashes suspended half an inch on the end while at the same time exhaling smoke through his nostrils.  I was happy the ashes didn’t fall into the eggs and pleased that there were fewer skeeters hanging around all that smoke.  As he opened the oven door we saw a pan of golden biscuits.  He used one of his grubby work gloves to pull the biscuit filled tray out and sat them on the table.

We consumed everything in site. Cuss mentioned that it appeared John and I had been competing in an eating contest. John slouched in his rickitty chair, arms hanging, fork laying on the table, head hanging as if done in from eating too much, and moaning about eating all that grub.  He had apparently conceded the contest to me as I asked if there were more taters and another biscuit and and how about more bacon?

It would take much of the morning to repair the fence only because John and I would have to walk a section of fence which consisted of a steep, rock strewn, sagebrush-covered hill. There was no way to drive a truck to it.  I noticed that Cuss’s section was on flat, grassy, bottom land, and he could drive to it.  As he drove away he waved and then snickered to us, “being the f______g ramrod and cook has its advantages.  Enjoy your  blankety blank  morning”.  A cigarette protruded from his mouth and smoke filled the interior of the old beat up Chevy cab but he was not swatting skeeters like we were.

Heading up the hill, John packed the fencing bar and a post.  I carried a shovel, wire stretchers, and another wooden post. We each had a pocket filled with wire staples and a canteen of cold spring water. Fencing pliers dangled from John’s belt.

Up the hill we started with a spring in our young steps.  Legs pumping hard. With each step that hill seemed to propagate more hill and build into a mountain.  The higher we climbed the further the top was from us. Our fencing equipment seemed to grow in weight.  Mosquitoes, deer flies, and horseflies buzzed about our heads and sometimes landed on bare skin. They sunk their proboscis into exposed flesh extracting all kinds of our body fluids.  We’d drop our equipment, slap at those pesky critters, utter some new words we’d picked up from Cuss, gather our tools and move on until the next time we were attacked.

We became so perturbed at all the biting bugs, we put our coats on, pulled up the hoods, stretched our sleeves to our gloves in order to protect us as much as we could.  We decided it was better to die of heat stroke instead of bug bites.  Cramming our straw hats on top of our hooded heads we continued our ordeal.

Being 16 and often including girls in our conversations, I suspect if any young ladies met us now they would run off in hysterical fits or maybe fear us as if we were some new bred of Sasquatch; either of which they would not want to be associated with.

Reaching the fence after what seemed like a decade, we set about tightening barbed wire with the stretchers, pounding stables, adding a post where an old one had broken off and doing whatever needed done so the fence would stop cattle from wondering into areas they weren’t supposed to.  All the while we waved arms, slapped at skeeters, deer flies, and horse flies.  Their only intent was to sap our blood.

Finally reaching the corner where we finished our work, we threw down our tools, plopped onto the hard ground, and found shade under a sagebrush as we each gasped from effort and heat.

As we lay there sipping cool water from our canteens, recuperating from our long trek and long, hard, hot work, we tended to dose off.  Startled from our short nap, we discerned a very loud buzzing.  It sounded like two B-52 bombers instead of two gigantic, overgrown  skeeters larger than an elk.  As we laid there breathing hard, we thought we overheard this conversation.  “These two look like tasty morsels. Shall we peal and eat them here, or take them back into the trees and enjoy our feast in the shade?”   The second buzzing B-52 said, “naw, let’s devour them here, if we pack them back into the trees, the big boys will take them away from us.”

John and I gave each other a ‘what the heck’ look, quickly jumped up, grabbed the fencing tools and bolted.  It didn’t take us long as we were both hell-bent for leather scurrying down the newly repaired fence line, dodging sagebrush, rocks and any flying critters which might have us in their sights.

I was a faster runner so I beat John to the truck but he wasn’t far behind. We jumped in and rolled the windows up.  Cuss looked at us as if we were a couple of dunderheads.  He threw his cigarette into the dirt, stomped on and pulverized it with his work scarred Tony Lamas, and headed to the truck cussing at us and taking long strides we didn’t know he had.   All the while pulling out another smoke, lighting it, not missing a step.  I think the smoke we saw coming from Cuss this time was not only from a cigarette.

“Can any of you old duffers beat those skeeters?”  I asked my old codger friends.  They answered me with loud defeated silence.

No photos this time but feel free to look my photographs over at http://samsherman.imagekind.com/.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Convergence in Meeteetsee

Didja ever  hear of the idea that each of us is a product of convergence?  Patrick F. McManus first introduced me to that term in one of his stories.  And of course I believe as gospel everything old Pat has ever written.  I’m sure he’d never stretch the truth or tell a lie.  Consequently let me tell you how convergence was the cause of me meeting the love of my life…. Chili cheese breakfast burritos.

According to McManus, convergence is a scientific fact. All important circumstances in one’s life happens by convergence. For instance, I am here in Casper because as I was completing my teaching degree at U.W. back during what must have been the time of Butch Cassidy, someone else here in Casper was completing a history teaching job.  The Casper person was preparing to move on to greener pastures. I was hoping to move on to any kind of pasture.  If he hadn’t moved on, there wouldn’t have been a pasture here in Casper for me to move to …. Consequently, convergence!!  Here I am.  If any other decisions had been made by either of us or the school district, I would have not ended in Casper.  Some of my future students might have cheered that, but they would be stuck with me anyway.

So what does convergence have to do with breakfast burritos? Bunches!  The universe seemed to conspire to bring me and a chili cheese breakfast burrito together.  I have finally been able to put this conspiracy theory together and can prove it.

I was enjoying a pleasant photography club trip to Kirwin, the old deserted gold mining ghost town high up in the Shoshone National Forest out of Meeteetsee, Wyoming. The weather was great.  The air smelled of pine and decayed buildings.  The old town was amazing, and I felt right at home.  Club photographers were wandering all over seemingly always getting in front of my camera just as I clicked the shutter.  But I was discrete.  As much as club members kept stepping into my camera’s field of vision,  I didn’t get a single picture of someone’s rear end.  Guess the members weren’t interested in derriere portraits.

Kirwin

Kirwin

Meanwhile, 30 miles down in the cowboy town of Meeteetsee, at the Silver Spur Bar and Grill, Maybel was preparing for tourists and locals who would soon be enjoying meals in her restaurant.  She was a short, scrawny, but plucky, older lady with white hair tied up in a bun on top of her head. She was well past middle age, but one knew not to mess with her as she’d probably be the first to slap you silly if you crossed her.  She was like Granny on ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ but not as pretty.   Her apron was one of those that cooks wear, and it was probably white when it was new 30 years ago.  A cigarette hung from her lips, acrid smoke drifted up out of her nostrils almost hiding the no smoking sign.

In her kitchen Maybel kinda perked her head up as if getting a message from the universe and thought she ought to make sure she had plenty of her cast of burrito characters: flour tortillas, browned breakfast sausage, potatoes, cheese, eggs, chives, salsa, beans, plenty of beans, and chili. Plus whatever else she might want to throw in. She smiled as she thought of her huge Chili Cheese Breakfast Burrito that she served any time of the day.  She prided herself that very few customers could ever finish her masterpiece as it was so humongous.  Maybe today would be the day someone actually would buy one and finish it.  Noooo, that won’t happen…. But, well, she did have this funny feeling.  Maybe that was just the way her cigarette smoke tickled her nose.

Back up on the mountain at Kirwin, we were completing our photography, loading the cars and heading down with thoughts of dinner on our minds.  This club didn’t travel on wheels; it traveled on its stomach, and I was no exception.  Breakfast is my favorite meal and any time of the day is breakfast for me.  Eggs, bacon, potatoes, gravy, salsa.  It’s all good especially heaped on a large plate with side boards.

As we drove down the mountain enjoying the scenery, our club president informed us she had made reservations at the Silver Spur Bar and Grill.  Being a connoisseur of food, my stomach began to wander with thoughts of amazing delicacies already simmering on the grill just waiting for my taste buds.  Or maybe that was just the road dust drifting into the truck cab.

More Kirwin

More Kirwin

Meanwhile Maybel had heated her grill, dropped dollops of butter on it and briefly watched them simmer before throwing on burgers, bacon, eggs and other luscious, scrumptious, lip-smacking, high cholesterol, artery clogging sustenance as can be imagined. Her customers never lacked for potential heart attack material.   As these bits of nourishment smoldered, she began to imagine her favorite creation…. Her large, super duper Chili Cheese Breakfast Burrito.  Today might be her day and some unsuspecting customer’s day.  She began to arrange the necessary ingredients with a mysterious smile on her face.

The club members parked their vehicles outside the Silver Spur Bar and Grill.  I stepped out of the truck onto the ancient dirty brown board walk.  Took my hat off and wacked it against my trousers creating a small dust devil which swirled at my knees. As the powdered dirt billowed away, I envisioned outlaws and cattle barons as they tied their horses to the hitching rails.  Each sweating horse dipped its head and slurped dark cool water from the trough.

I put my hat back on and stepped into the Silver Spur and was immediately immersed into the decor of the bar. Mounted heads of local wildlife hung from the walls.  Boots and cowboy hats were suspended from the ceiling.  Posted in prominent places were red neck sayings.  The modern west in all its glory revealed itself to me.  That included the smell of cigarette smoke, grease, beer, and cowboys with manure on their boots.  Ah yes, small town Wyoming.  What a great place to satisfy my growing appetite plus enjoy the local culture of politically spirited ranchers discussing their government grazing rights as I read the anti-Obama signs hanging next to calendars portraying scantly clad ladies. Wyoming, like no place on earth!

As I scrutinized the menu I was seduced by this item: “Large Chili Cheese Breakfast Burrito.  Served all day.  So large no one can finish it. $15.99”. Mysteriously, the word ‘convergence‘ thundered silently through my head but not for long as this was a challenge I could not pass up.

I looked up into the old, bald waiter’s cold, blue eyes, noticed the deep wrinkles of his face as he smacked his thin lips holding a chew of tobacco between his gums and cheek. A little drop of tobacco juice started to drip off his lower lip, but before it did, he nonchalantly licked it off and asked, “whatcha want, fella?”

I pointed, “I want that”.  A smirk appeared on his lined face as he shook his head in approval or was that superciliousness as he hollered out, “Maybel, we got a live one here.  Get your extra large tortilla out of the barn.”   He asked, “do you want the chili with extra beans?”  My answer was, “of course.”  He walked off snickering, shaking his head and concealing a wicked smile.  A chill ran up my back.

When the old waiter placed my order with Maybel, she perked her head up again much like she had earlier in the day.  Smiling, she wiped her hands on her grungy, once white apron and walked out the door towards the barn to gather the ingredients she had already previously set aside in anticipation of such a momentous occasion.

Maybel’s wonderful Chili Cheese Breakfast Burrito was ready in a jiffy as if she’d been preparing it all day. The blob of a cheese-covered burrito spilled over the plate and even slopped over the side boards.  I wondered if Maybel had used a winch truck to load it on the plate. That giant tortilla was filled with several scrambled eggs, salsa, beans, onions, chunks of fried potatoes, cheese and avocado. It  was oozy and gooey all covered with scoops of red chili with extra beans all topped with sour cream.  A very delectable meal and all for me.  It was beautiful and smelled fantastic.  I fell in love once again.

Devouring this delectable creation was not a problem for me.  I did keep my knife handy in case someone tried to sneak a bite.  I warned them that if they tried for a taste, they’d pull back a bloody stump.  All I heard were things like, “my gawd!”, “what a pit”, “he must have a hollow leg”, “what a glutton”, “how can anyone put that much away?”, “incredible”, “how does he do it?”, “look at all those beans”.  I enjoyed each and every cholesterol shattering bite and just knew everyone was jealous.  It was an amazing meal.

After I had devoured every crumb, morsel, and sloppy drop of grease, Maybel strolled over, leaned in, dropped ashes from her cigarette on the table, and gave me a giant hug and mumbled congratulations in my ear. She seemed extremely pleased that I enjoyed her creation.  I told her she was the best cook. I woulda’ kissed her on the cheek, but that would have meant fighting through her cigarette.

After scrapping the plate clean and licking my lips, I began wondering what they had for dessert.  I closed my eyes and just sat and revisited my meeting with Maybel and recalled McManus and convergence while waiting on a large piece of chocolate cake with ice cream dessert.  The Chile Cheese Breakfast Burrito was no longer an item on my plate, but the memory lingered on.

Speaking of lingering, the beans were abundant and extra flavorful.  I would dream of my fantastic meal with extra chili and beans all the way back to Casper.

Which reminded me, “Oh, by the way, guys, (burping), who said they were going to ride with me back to Casper?”  No one raised their hands. Loud, deafening silence was all I heard.  They must have been still been in shock at the piece of artwork that had decorated my plate and weren’t thinking of riding home yet.

Disclaimer: Some names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Some persons appearing in this story might be figments of the writer’s imagination.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments