Rte 130 runs pretty much due west out of Laramie, on a ridge mostly, the gully to the right pockmarked with fencing scattershot along a winding creek bed and low structures snugged in close to the pines, out of the wind. Mostly. But that’s hard to do. It’s funneled down broad canyons, valleys we call them here, but they’re more. You’d need to see them with eagles’ eyes, from thermals, though scale is tough to figure.
The road does a bend, up and around Sheep’s Mountain, to rise deceptively gentle until it isn’t and you scramble … well, your horse does that while your gullet’s parked hard on the horn and you wonder why it was a good idea and who the hell’s turn was it to get the next gate. On. Off. Take turns. No, it’s yours, but you smile because it’s the adventure and the way of life and it has meaning in that time and place.
There’s cattle, free range black angus, big suckers and there’s a bull or two or three who take umbrage. The horses work them for a living, they don’t back down. Wish sometimes that was you, but you live vicariously, let them do their job. The elk are even harder to avoid. This is their spot, they own it. Except during hunting season. Tables turn and freezers fill and it’s the way of things out here.
Centennial is a three horse stop with a restaurant that serves a side of beef for you, your family, their friends, hell half the damn valley sits down to feast on bloody at one time. But it’s a waystation and you mount up in that four-wheeler and stay true, the Snowys call and the road climbs and the gate’s open that time of year but you gawp at the poles, twelve feet high, aren’t they? No, higher. The gate’s shut come winter, for good reason.
There’s a pool, a reflecting pond of such majesty it takes your breath, what you have left at altitude, flat plate calmer than calm, so deep nobody really knows and not a whisker of air intrudes and there’s a quiet you never knew possible but it’s inside, in your heart, maybe even your soul. It’s the sound of you just being.
It’s a gift.