Knothole Ranch

It is always fun and part of family tradition to go out to “the Ranch”. This past weekend it was time to make the trip again.  My wife’s mother owns some land west of Casper that Nanny and Papa named the Knothole Ranch years ago.  It’s not really a ranch in the common sense of the word, but that is what they wanted to call it.  It is a pretty area of scrub cedar, pine, grasses, sagebrush, rabbit brush, and captivating rock formations.  Wildlife is abundant especially antelope and deer, but there is also elk, cougar, hawks, eagles and more.

Fishing is always a fun activity,  especially for the little kids.  Papa started the tradition of taking each grandchild to the ponds and teaching them how to fish.  I don’t think any of the older grandchildren missed their turn with Papa.  We still hear his voice echoing over the ponds, “you didn’t know your papa could fish like that, did you?”  Now it is up to the next generation to teach the younger ones.  This time it was Bob’s turn to begin to teach his son Kyle.

Below is more of an environmental snapshot of Bob and Kyle.  When taking family pictures, it is just fine to include parts of the environment to give a sense of place.

Bob teaching Kyle to fish

Bob teaching Kyle to fish

Debbie says the best fishing story ever was when Scott told the story about when Papa and he were fishing on one side and Nanny on the other side.  She was using three single hooks.  When she threw it out, she brought three fish in, took a look at them and said, “yep, they look good”, and was done.  After that,  Papa looked at Scott and said, “and that’s a good woman.”  Seems everyone has a fish story about Nanny and Papa.

There are other things to do at the ranch besides fishing.  One of my favorites is just to walk around with my camera.  My challenge to myself this time was to find some exciting color. At the end of Summer there is little color in this area, so off I went to find some.  There is a multitude of green and brown and grays but I was hoping for some reds or yellows.  I found some yellow right behind the cabin.

Behind the cabin

This photo shows that color can enhance a photo and can even be found at midday in central Wyoming.  A person just needs to look.  Here we see the color of the Sun Flowers and Rabbit Brush not to mention a beautiful blue Wyoming sky.  The greens, browns and grays don’t look so bad either.

Another fun part of walking is when my niece, Diana, insists on going on a short “jaunt”.  There’s a story behind the word “jaunt”, but that’s for another time.  She loves to visit her dogs’ graves which have been there for many years.  This year she carried some wildflowers to decorate the graves.

The jaunt was pleasant.  We kicked up the pungent smell of sagebrush as we meandered up the sage and thistle-covered road.  The fragrance of sagebrush is so awesome during Summer. As we sauntered up the road, grasshoppers kept jumping at our feet and hawks and eagles hunted overhead.  We saw the shadow of the hawk before we saw the hawk itself.  It sure made me realize what rabbits would see just before a hawk would grab them with their sharp talons.

This year I didn’t climb the hill where the dogs are located but Diana did.  I waited at Picnic Rock.  It is a flat conglomerate rock that looks almost like a picnic table, thus the name.   A conglomerate rock is a rock with gravel cemented together by nature.  Millions of years ago the gravel was washed down from some long gone mountain.  The gravel was covered with sediments and buried where time, heat and pressure forced the gravel to be cemented into its own rock. Over millions of years of erosion, the conglomerate was finally re-exposed as a conglomerate rock.  “The ranch”has many of these rocks.

Picnic Rock is a Conglomerate rock

Picnic Rock is a conglomerate rock

Just showing you Picnic Rock doesn’t show you the gravel conglomerate.  Take a look at this close up picture below to see the gravel mixed in with other sediments that helped to keep it all together. The moss and lichens look pretty cool also.

close up of conglomerate

To give perspective I included a bottle cap.  This is a photo technique so the viewer can better understand what they are seeing and  especially to compare size.

As I waited for Diana, I surveyed the surrounding hills.  Way off in the distance on a faraway hill I could barely see an antelope doe and her two fawns.  Shortly a buck ambled up to them and with authority herded them down the hill out of site.  It must be that time of year when bucks begin to collect their harem. It was too far for a photograph even with my telephoto lense but was sure fun to watch. “The ranch” is a great place to watch wildlife and photograph wildlife while soaking in some warm Wyoming sun and waiting on your niece. Later, she came back smiling and happy after communing with her long deceased dogs.

Soon it was time to gather everyone up and head back to town. We loaded into the vehicles and drove back to town concluding  another fantastic day relishing “the ranch” and sharing memories.  The tradition lives on…..

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