Posts Tagged ‘forest fires’

Summer is forest fire season in the west and this year was no exception.  Fortunately, none of the fires was close to us, but smoke from these fires often travels hundreds of miles.  One day there was so much smoke that it was as if we were in a thin fog, with a smell sharp enough to make me feel that the fire was just over the ridge.  This is what it looked like later in the day.  The peak just to the left of center is Black Tooth, a bit over 13,000′ high and still adorned with patches of snow in August, as were a number of other peaks this year.

copyright janet m. webb

A number of years ago, a fire got close enough to the cabins for us to see the flames, forcing all of us to evacuate.  The fire jumped part of the Red Grade Road, but thankfully, our cabins and almost all others in the area were spared.  I never want to be that close or closer to a forest fire again.

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Leaving behind the falls, we wind down the canyon to the flat land, heading towards Cody, gateway to Yellowstone.  Over-grazing in many places has left sagebrush as the main vegetation and it takes many acres for one cow to graze.  The top ten cash crops in Wyoming are hay, sugar beets, barley, wheat, corn for grain, dry beans, oats, marijuana and potatoes.   The country becomes much more open but in the distance, we can see the mountains that are indicators of Yellowstone.

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Just a little sculpture in a field

Up early, we breakfast with the bikers, then get on our way.  The speed limit in South Dakota is 75, so the van flies along at a steady 80, eating up the miles.  South Dakota is flat but beautiful, misty this morning after last night’s rain.  There are rolls of hay everywhere and the bright stubble from the baled hay stands in sharp contrast to the sky and the deep green of the soybean fields.  The corn is suffering; the dry-land corn is truly dry and looks crinkly.  Even corn that’s been irrigated doesn’t have as many ears per stalk.  Many fields look ready for harvest but it’s much too early.  This bodes ill not only for farmers but for everyone, since corn is a part of so many products.  Many spots usually filled with water are either just cracked earth or have only a little water in them.  Fields of sunflowers give a Provencal look to some areas.  Their bright yellow faces turned toward the sun, they appear to contradict the dryness surrounding them. (more…)