Chapter 1 "Take 'em to Missouri"
Terry and I rolled out of Evanston shortly after 6:am, the sun was just breaking over the eastern horizon highlighting the buttes and hills. I loved this time of the morning you didn't see anything like this except out here in the west. Soon we were traveling east on I-80 towards Rock Springs, the sun was in our eyes now requiring sunglasses. I sat next to Terry who had his arm around me, while I texted Pam, and Tiphanie with answers to some questions they had asked me earlier. I also answered a text from Emma Cassidy the girl who rode home last spring with Pam and I, who was now wondering if she could ride with us back to school. I let her know that I would be unavailable until the 24th and to contact me then. I added that it was awful short notice, but as far as I knew, she was welcome to come if she didn't have too much stuff. As we moved eastward, signs for Little America started appearing, and with them old memories. "Wasn't that the place you and "what's-his-name" spent the night?" I glanced at him, but he kept his eyes on the road. "You know it was," I stated, "Was he trying to start something?" I wondered, "I also got stuck there last spring as well," I added, "So what's the point?" Terry looked at me expressionless, "Nothing, just trying to make conversation, that's all."
When we began to exit, I knew something was up, "Why are you getting off," I asked. "Gotta take a leak," was the offered explanation. We pulled up next to the convenience store, I followed him in as well, the sudden urge to use the restroom suddenly came over me. The short time I was in there, I was sure old memories and feelings would fill my head, but it could have been any other convenience store from here to Salt Lake, nothing brought attention to itself, or jogged an old memory, perhaps Ted was indeed at peace having "spoken" to me last spring when I was stranded her for a second time. Back on the road, Terry and I remained quiet for awhile content to listen to the radio. Stopping for gas in Rock Springs, we turned north of route 191 in which we soon passed a sign reminding us that this was the fastest way to Yellowstone.
"I don't know about you babe," said Terry, "But I think about that trip we took an awful lot. Heh! When we were up to Jackson over Memorial Day you don't know how badly I wanted to ride further up to Yellowstone." I put my head on his shoulder and hugged him around the middle, "Someday," was all I said. From time to time, we commented on the passing scenery, when we passed the road to South Pass I mentioned that I'd always wanted to stop, but both of us knew time was a factor here, and none to be had for sightseeing. It was around ten when we passed through Lander heading east on 789 towards Riverton.
A little later as we passed through the Wind River Canyon towards Thermopolis, I commented, "Places like this are why I love Wyoming so much, when I was in Chicago and we were creeping along in heavy traffic, I thought about how lucky I was to live out here, I even saw a billboard advertising Wyoming tourism, I just about burst out laughing, all those people pay to come out here, and I'm already here." Terry grinned at me, "You just haven't been many place in Utah yet." "What!" I replied, "I-80 between Salt Lake and Wend over?" Terry laughed, "You know what I mean."
Before we knew it, route 431 was coming up Sara's ranch wasn't far ahead now, and soon I spotted a figure sitting on a horse with another one next to them. It was Sara waiting for us at the gate, pulling across the cattle guard terry stopped as she came up on my side of the truck. Still riding E-She, Sara bent down and said, "Kahee!" I responded with "Aho!" Sara grinned, and replied, "Suzy missed you, ready to make her acquaintance again?"
I looked at Terry, "Sorry, just follow this road, don't make any sharp turns, I'll meet you up at the house." I bent over and kissed him then got out and walked over to my old horse, "Hello Suzy, been a long time." She gave me a look that only horses can do; I already had my boots on, as well as my hat I jumped right up on Suzy's back. Sara gave out with an Indian cry, and quickly both of us were off. Poor Terry, I hated to do this to him, but I couldn't turn down Sara's welcome, looking back, I saw a large cloud of dust indicating Terry was on the right road, still well behind us.
When we arrived at the ranch house, I saw three men standing on the porch watching us, two I recognized, form last year, Frank Jr. and Steve, but a taller and ruggedly handsome one was probably her oldest brother Allen who had been gone when I was here last. Sara's mom came out of the house just as we dis-mounted, and tied up the horses. I held up my hand and said, "Kahee!" Mrs. Cummings smiled as she hugged me "Aho!" was her reply. Terry pulled into the yard at this point with Frank Jr. pointing to a spot next to a couple other trucks. Terry pulled in next to them got out and walked over to where we were standing, much to my relief, he held his hand up and said, "Kahee!" in such a way, I was sure he had been practicing. "Aho!" was the reply, the three brothers sauntered over, with everybody shaking hands "Well everybody," I announced, "This is my fiancé Terry McAllister. He's from Murray Utah," whereby Steve muttered, "Maybe it was Utah?" "What?" shaking his head, he replied, "Nothing." "Frank will be back shortly," said Mrs. Cummings, "But for now, let's get your gear inside." Terry then spoke up "Mrs. Cummings, I brought my rifle and a pistol as well, but I'll lock them in my truck if you'd rather I didn't bring them."
At the mention of guns three pairs of eyes lit up, "Bring 'em on in," replied Mrs. Cummings. "Are they unloaded?" "Absolutely!" replied Terry. Allen winked at me then moved in to cut Terry off, taking on a serious tone of voice, he said, "What you need with all that firepower guy, the Indian wars are over, Army says we ain't supposed to have guns of any kind!" I could see Frank Jr. and Allen desperately trying to suppress snickers, and even Sara and her mother caught on to what Allen was doing. Terry must have realized they were pulling his leg, but replied with, "Well, you guys used to hire out to the army as scouts, I'm offering my services to you as a white scout." Allen started laughing and slapped Terry on the back, "That's good, you got me there!" Everybody laughed, then Allen said, "C'mon, I'll give you a hand, let's see whatcha got."
When Terry showed them his Mini-14 with it's tactical stock and Kimber .45 auto, everybody wanted to check them out. "You certainly brought the right rifle," remarked Steve. "Coyotes and prairie dogs we have plenty of." Once the guys finished gawking at Terry's weaponry w all went inside, since Allen was home this time I would be bunking with Sara, with Terry getting the extra bedroom. Once we had our clothes and gear more or less secured, we gathered in the living room to get re-acquainted.
Mr. Cummings arrived shortly afterwards and shook Terry's hand, it soon became apparent everybody was trying to "size" him up, but I was pretty sure the real test would come tomorrow down in the corral. While Terry was talking to Allen and Mr. Cummings, Sara and I caught up of things while we helped her mom prepare the hamburgers for the grill. We talked about Pam's upcoming wedding, my wedding, going back to school. While we were, preparing things Sharon Bright Wings and Natalie Tall Bear arrived along with Sara's boyfriend David. I shook hands with both women, and greeted David as well, "Dave's coming with us this time," said Sara, "We're going to need everybody this time," she added.
Mrs. Cummings then explained that we would be moving the majority of the herd over to a larger grazing area near Meeteetse, a good ways away; Allen and David would be joining us as well as George Old Bear and Mrs. Cummings brother Joe. I got a chance to re-new my friendship with Natalie who was still at the clinic in Thermopolis, working as an RN. While we were cooking our burgers, I chatted with Allen about his teaching. "Still teaching High School in Worland?" I asked. He nodded, "Oh yeah, I think I told you last year that the pay wasn't so hot but I think I'm really making a difference with my kids. I challenge them, and so far they've never let me down, right now, it seems the school board is having trouble finding a good math teacher, so chances are pretty good I'll get stuck teaching math, not my best subject, but I'm not too worried. Say, how's that friend of yours, the one you told me was going into teaching?" "Pam?" I replied, "Still motivated as ever, this summer she's working in Evanston with the school's new early start program, it's like head start, but a little more customized to the local situation."
I chuckled, "The ironic thing about it is that as part of her probation from her drug problem, they made her work in the program, but it backfired on them, Pam loved it, really turned her life around and with my help got motivated enough to go to college. Now she's in an honors program and doing great. She knows all the people in this summer program from when she had to do community service, they are a bunch of motivated teachers and are doing wonders with the kids." Then Allen lowered his voice, "You know, all you seem to read about anymore are teachers who get caught fooling around with their students, or these kids who go on rampages, I don't claim to have the best students in the world, none of their families are rich, or famous, but I find ways to reach them, I've even brought them out here, we go out there and I show them places where Indians camped, don't tell anybody but I think we even have an ancient buffalo jump on the property. When you get a bunch of teens standing on ground their ancestors walked and see places they actually camped, and somebody finds an arrowhead…Well, I think your friend Pam would understand." I smiled, "Oh I know she would."
Later, I had a chance to get Allen aside and ask him, "How's Sara doing? She seems motivated at school, but sometimes I'll come in our room and I'm sure she's been crying, or sometimes she'll spend long periods of time just looking out the window." Allen grimaced, "Funny you noticed that as well, mom and dad have too, and are very concerned. When mom tries to talk to her about it, she suddenly gets very defensive and won't say anything. Frankly both are worried that she'll announce that she's dropping out. Her grades are good, but mom thinks they could be better." Allen then took on a grim expression. "I'm sure you're aware that we Indians don't have the greatest track record when it come to graduating from college, so far I'm the only one in this family, mom and dad have sacrificed a lot to send us both to college, and Sara attending U/W, that was her mother's dream."
I looked at Allen and said, "Is it David? I can't think of anything at school that seems to be affecting her." Allen shook his head, "I talked with him about this, he's concerned as well, you might want to speak with him sometime before you leave, maybe you two can put your heads together and come up with something." I sighed, "Thanks for telling me this Allen, I really think a lot of Sara, maybe I can get Pam in on this, she's a genius at getting people to open up, I think I still have your e-mail address, I'll keep in touch." "Thanks Krin," replied Allen, "Sara's always talking about you, I can see why."