Monday, June 26, 2006

Bernice's adventures in Flatwillow

More from Bernice...seems like she still has her sense of humor.

Grass Range to Flatwillow was a long stretch with no cars all day. I told a passerby the other day that had stopped to visit with us that it wasn’t like being in a car out here. That on a horse or walking you were “in it”…and “in it” … and “in it.” That it didn’t just shoot past you. The immensity of this open country either terrifies or embraces. I feel exposed and touch by vastness.

We made it into Flatwillow in the late afternoon. It was hot and there was a storm coming on. I knew I needed shelter for the night. I try to find shelter most nights now as afternoon storms come through with high winds, rain and many times hail. The place a stopped was a house belonging to the Bulls Eye Ranch, a 50,000+ acre ranch. The Connellys were the managers and the set me up in the empty house. They took me over to their hours for supper and showed the ranch and were just a delightful family to spend the evening with. They gave me clean clothes and dog and horse food. We visited until late that evening.

Heading south out of Flatwillow, it was a cool morning. I was now heading through unmarked roads for a stretch of 30 miles or so that connected with 4 Mile Road that goes into Musselshell. Little dirt roads went every which way. Even with Jim Connelly’s directions, there was no way. I got lost, disoriented and worried. I just couldn’t keep going. About a mile or two away were oil wells and I thought pickup trucks. We hiked over to the ridge, climbed to the top and sure enough, there were a few little shacks that were used to work in, gather information, etc. Here I met Bob and Mark. I’d tied Honor and Claire down below as the place was fenced off from cattle. I walked in and said, “Your wives sent me to check up on you.”
Not a word.
I said, “You do have wives, don’t you?”
Yeah, yeah.
They were stunned I guess. Anyway, we laughed and I told them I was lost and could they help me? Water? Etc. Bob took me in his pickup and showed me the road...roads...I would need. As I said, I’d never have found my way through the maze of roads.

It was about 5 pm and they were finishing up work. That they were there was somewhat of a miracle. Bob and Mark sent me off with apples, bananas, candy bars, pretzels and tomato juice that I later made into soup that night. I headed back to a set of corrals that had shelter and water where we camped for the night and id it ever rain and storm that night! We walked the next morning in the pouring rain that soaked the clay ground making walking and riding so hard and long. But about 1 pm the sun came out and who came driving down the road but Bob and his wife, Nancy. They came to make sure I’d made it. Wow. And they brought food! Wow again. Hungry? Yes! They invited me to stay at their place that evening in Musselshell. I ended up staying two up and resting up.

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