Last night I visited the town of Hartville. Yes, that's where I'm staying, but on a ranch, and there are several. But I went into "town" last night, only planning on checking out this one street town I'd only heard about, population 76.
As I drove to town, I was amazed at the rolling hills, and narrow curving roads I had driven only a few nights before in utter darkness, completely unaware of my surroundings. Now seeing what I was missing was both breathtaking and fear provoking. To think of the limited winding road I was on, yet the astonishing beauty I'd missed. I believe that God had a purpose in it all. To see it after already being here a few days, rather then when I first arrived tired and worn from many hours on the road, is hard to put into words.
I parked my van and headed out on the tiny street of Hartville, with camera strapped over my shoulder. Anyone seeing me could only conclude I was a "tourist". How amusing I must have looked in such a place like, Hartville. After taking several interesting shots, I headed back to my van, all intentions on driving the remainder of the street and heading back to the ranch.
Up ahead, live music flowed from the local bar. There were several folks sitting, relaxing on chairs, enjoying the music, weather and their neighbors. It all seemed too intimate for an outsider like me. I slowly drove by, catching a glimpse when a woman waved at me. To my utter surprise there sitting at an outdoor table were the two manages of the Kindness Ranch, along with two guests. They motioned for me to stop, and I told them I'd turn around and be right back.
I continued up the narrow street, two dogs slowly moseyed across the street. A sharp bend in the road brought me to two very tiny churches, one on either side. It looked as thought they only had one early morning service and they'd be lucky if the building held fifty people. If I decide to attend, there'd be no quietly slipping in and out. I can't imagine it to be possible in such a small, confined place, and being such a small community, despite the fact that I'm only 4'9". I'd most likely stick out like a giant amongst...well, people like me. Not one for bringing attention to myself, and coming from a home church of thousands, I'll have to see where God takes me on that one.
Only a few short distances and I was already at the towns limits. After all, the population is only 76. I turned around and headed back to the bar, the oldest around so I'd learned. The neighboring town, Sunrise, once a thriving coal mine, now a ghost town, is now shut off to the rest of the world.
We sat and had a few drinks as we listened to a guy sing and make obnoxious jokes. Town folks gathered, catching up on the latest gossip as dogs wandered the streets freely. Everyone seeming to know everyone.
Later we retreated to the inside, and I watched as they played several rounds of pool. There was one wall in the back, lined with small squares of wood, each with symbols on them and a blue label with a Mr. and Mrs. so and so along the bottom. I had to wonder what it all meant. Was it some kind of monetary contribution for selecting a sign and having it placed on the wall with your name? I later found out that they were actual brands. Brands used and registered by the local ranchers. Now it all made sense.
Along the front wall, several old picture of the town way back when. Back when it was a thriving community. Very cool.
I talked to a coupled that have lived in Wyoming all their lives, and for twenty-seven of them, right there in Hartville. He was a true cowboy in every sense of the word. I was more then astonished to find at times they use motorbikes to round up their cattle. Somehow I just can't picture this older cowboy with a cream colored Stetson, authentic cowboy boots, western shirt and wranglers, riding a motorbike, racing around a heard of cattle. How times change, yet stayed the say. It was truly a mixture of the old west meets the new.