Day 212: Recluse or Moose

Laetitia sat sipping coffee in the library of the Emerald Victorian as she looked at a map of Wyoming, the state she had chosen for the day’s tour. She knew that conventional tour directors sometimes devise games for the guests to play, particularly on days when there are long bus rides between destinations. Mind’s Eye Limerick Tours has no such obligatory long bus rides, but she thought a game would be fun anyway. The game was that half of the group would go to the Wyoming town of Recluse and the remainder would go to the town of Moose.

Though she suspected that the latter was named for the presence or past presence in the area of a large bovine mammal, she preferred to think of the residents as being gigantic like Moose Malloy, Raymond Chandler’s character in Farewell, My Lovely. Chandler described Moose as “not more than six feet five inches tall and not wider than a beer truck,” and “He wore … a rough gray sports coat with white golf balls on it for buttons.” Moose was, of course, a thug, which, as far as Laetitia knew, none of the inhabitants of Moose, Wyoming, actually were.

The game was to interview the residents of each town and determine how many shy and retiring people lived in Recluse and how many of gigantic people in Moose. A percentage for each town would be calculated by dividing the number of reclusive or gigantic people observed in each respective town by its population. The two teams would meet in the afternoon in the lobby of Old Faithful Lodge in Yellowstone National Park. At dinner, each team would present their results, and the team with the highest percentage would be declared the winner. This study was somewhat short on scientific rigor, and since it was an imaginary tour was likely to produce imaginary results. Also, as games go it was rather lame, but Laetitia had been on the go for several months and relished having a few hours to relax in the lounge of Old Faithful Lodge while her guests were off on their respective missions.

The two groups recombined that afternoon, and Laetitia took them on a brief tour of the area around Old Faithful Lodge. They watched Old Faithful erupt several times, hiked to view some hot springs, and enjoyed the bison and elk herds that roamed nearby. They read the signs warning guests not to try to pet the bison and elk since they were not tame.

At dinner, the Recluse group conceded defeat. They said that when they entered the town, the streets were empty. Occasionally a curtain would move, indicating that people were watching, but none ventured out. A man blundered out into the street as they were about to leave, but he acted so shy and seemingly confused that they couldn’t do an interview, and he quickly dashed back into the house. Moose did, in fact, have several very large residents who looked like they might be descendants of Paul Bunyan, though none came close to being as wide as a beer truck. After presenting the limerick, Laetitia stopped in Recluse on the way home. It was a small, unincorporated community with little more than a school, a post office, and a few businesses. Its residents seemed perfectly normal. She suspected that the folks from her group who went to Recluse had very active imaginations.

The group found them shy or obtuse
Those folks who reside in Recluse
They’re somewhat retiring
And not awe-inspiring
Unlike the gigantic people from Moose.

Day 211: Rose Pose

Powell, Wyoming is a town of about 5,000 people close to Yellowstone National Park. Laetitia and her group drove through the park, passing Yellowstone Lake and taking the loop road over Craig Pass and past Old Faithful. They made several stops at other geysers and hot springs and visited the Museum of the Park Ranger before taking the northern part of the loop to Lake Village and then heading out through the east park entrance toward Powell. Powell was named for John Wesley Powell, a soldier, geologist, and explorer.

On the walkabout in Powell with her group, Laetitia saw some teenage boys snickering and poking each other. She looked in the direction they were looking and saw what they were snickering at. The incident provided the limerick of the day.

When a buxom old lady from Powell,
Who bent over to work with her trowel
While tending her roses
Got into rude poses
It made all the neighbor boys howl.

Day 210: Ten Sleep

The town of Ten Sleep, WY was once a Native American rest stop. It was centrally located, ten sleeps away from (1) Fort Laramie, (2) what is now Yellowstone National Park, and (3) the Indian Agency on the Stillwater River in Montana. Today Ten Sleep has roughly 300 inhabitants with three restaurants, two bars, two motels, a convenience store/gas station, a campground, a bank, and a hardware store. Laetitia and her group went kayaking in Ten Sleep Creek before going to the town. The man who rented kayaks to her for the group had a story about a couple of teenage lovers that became the limerick of the day.

When Rod seduced Jan in a Jeep
On the bank of a stream near Ten Sleep
He bumped with his rear
The shift out of gear
And rolled into a creek three feet deep.

Day 183: Bert on Beartooth

Red Lodge, Montana was originally a coal-mining town. Today it’s mostly a resort town, strategically located near ski slopes and the picturesque Beartooth Highway, which leads over 10,947-foot Beartooth Pass to Yellowstone National Park. The town has a number of historic buildings, some of which were present in 1897 when the Sundance Kid tried to rob one of the local banks.

Laetitia hired a local driver with a van to take her group over scenic Beartooth Pass. While they were stopped at an overlook, a tall Native American man and a blonde woman went by on a motorcycle. They waved at Laetitia’s driver and he waved back. “That’s Bert and Jo Ann; they’re a fun couple,” he said. “Two of Red Lodge’s finest citizens. Bert is in his upper eighties. He’s had almost every adventure a person can have, including being a rodeo cowboy. He still flies his own airplane. Jo Ann is a retired radio astronomer.”

While she was talking to the driver, Laetitia noticed that Bert and Jo Ann had dismounted from the motorcycle and her group had gathered around Bert to listen to his stories. He was telling them about growing up on a reservation in northern Montana, riding empty boxcars of the Great Northern Railway to a Native American boarding school on the West Coast, and the time the boxcars were all full, so he rode on top of a boxcar through the 7.8 mile Cascade Tunnel, which was filled with smoke from the steam engines pulling the train.

Laetitia had asked the driver about places for dinner, and the driver had mentioned the Grizzly Bar, an eating and drinking establishment outside of Red Lodge. Bert’s last story before he and Jo Ann sped off on the motorcycle was about driving by the Grizzly Bar and seeing a black bear peering through the window. Laetitia wondered if the bear was a voyeur.

As it turned out, Laetitia had met Bert and Jo Ann on one of the Mind’s Eye tours she had conducted in Hawaii. It had been a small group, and she had given a limerick toast to each of the group at the end of the tour.

Here’s to Bert, hiking octogenarian
Who to some folks may seem a contrarian
He’s a Maori chief
And would rather eat beef
Than tofu, that food vegetarian.

Here’s to Jo Ann, who likes to hike early
When the dew on the fern fronds is pearly
While we’re waiting to have a
Second cup of Java
To make us a little less surly.

Bert is Dakota, not Maori. Jo Ann and He were on a tour in New Zealand that included a staged encounter with a group of Maoris, the Polynesians who once ruled those islands. The tour group had to select a chief to negotiate with the chief of the Maoris, who was making threatening gestures and facial expressions. They chose Bert as their chief, presumably because of his commanding presence. Bert’s negotiation was successful, and the tour group was able to pass on to their destination.

That afternoon Laetitia took her group on a brewery tour of Red Lodge Ales. She discovered she was especially fond of their porter during a brew tasting at the end of the tour. They had dinner that evening at the Grizzly Bar. An overheard conversation gave Laetitia the limerick of the day.

Ladies shun Mel, who lives in Red Lodge
When he asks them to ride in his Dodge
He’ll say, “We’re out of gas,”
And then make a pass
Before they have left his garage.