Posts Tagged ‘Hinckey Summit’

Eventually, everything must end. Vacations among them. Work beckons. The need to make money again beckons.

We had to drive back to Portland. Big sigh.

Tonight, I think I will end my story with some of the random photos taken over the course of our trip (that didn’t fit in anywhere else).

Murphy’s “photo-bomb” with “Dad” and the box Dad came in.

I didn’t even know I had this photo. I was reviewing all my photos late last night and thought: “WHAT?!” And then I started laughing. My dad might not appreciate this photo, but my MOM would have loved it.

The view from Hinckey Summit, south toward Paradise Valley. This is the “permanent” view my parents have of the world (summer version – winter is a different story).

There’s a natural arch in the basalt that rises over my parents’ ashes.

Life and Death in the high range: some bird had a feast of fritillary butterflies. Guess they were yummy, indeed.

Living butterflies dotted the mountain. I haven’t even tried to key them out: I know they are fritillaries, but that is it.

And birds like them.



Wildflowers on the arid mountain. I can name some of them and I should try to look them up, but not tonight. Buckwheat, Indian paintbrush. penstemmon, trumpet flower. There were lupins blooming, too. Spring comes very late to the alpine meadows.

Deserted Ranger Station with the Bunk House in back.

Once long ago, we camped there. I don’t remember how old I was. I remember that my parents hauled the mattresses out of the house and shook them to evict the mice and their babies. We children were told to stomp on the baby mice to kill them.

I burst into tears.

I don’t judge my parents: they lived in a different world. Mice are a plague. And I agree with them. I just could not stomp on the baby mice. It’s that sensitive thing.

Even today I would find a different way to kill the mice, one that didn’t involve me. I know: what a whiner! Mice – especially deer mice which these were most likely – carry Hanta Virus. And I hate mice in mattresses. But I was a little girl and my mind didn’t work that way then.

Chocolate Mountain. I’ll let you figure out how it got that name.

We watched this poor hang glider struggle to catch an updraft. We didn’t know where he started from, we only knew he was grounded on the side on the mountain and he had a companion (down in the lower right of the photo). there was a dog up there, too. I never bothered to change up to my 300mm zoom.

He did finally catch some air, but he came down – hard – shortly thereafter.

I don’t know the outcome of his adventure, but I suspect it was painful and not very successful.

AW! Back in Winnemucca. We stopped at a park where the old Navy Air Force Base used to be. And there was this sign. I remember when the Poke-n-Peek was founded. My best friend’s mom was one of the Catholic ladies who spear-headed the thrift store. And it’s still in business. Family friend, Norma, still works there. I don’t know if my best friend’s mom still does or not.

This used to be down at the park by the golf course. I can name the kids who vandalized it in the 1960’s. Back then, you could climb up into the cock pit.

Don and Murphy taking a break in the background.

The old WW2 tank. terry remembers climbing into it and manning the swivel. It was another one of those military displays that kids could climb on back in the 1960’s.

Winnemucca, Nevada. I can point out to you where I grew up. I only lived there for a short time in my life, but it seems like it possesses a part of my soul. Over in those brown mountains on the other side, is Water Canyon. We hiked up to Water Canyon from the house, sometimes. It was a couple of miles and a lot of hot sagebrush trails and watching for rattlesnakes. In my mind, I have a plethora of stories about Water Canyon, some with my friend Trudi and some with Lisa. And some with Terry.

And the mountain we are standing on – Winnemucca Mountain – has stories to tell, too. Trudi lived up there. She watched wild horses out her back window. There was a black stallion who led the little band of horses around those slopes.

We stopped in Winnemucca and visited people I barely remember. One woman turned and said, “Your mother used to sell Avon, didn’t she?”

What a strange memory.

Yes, she did.

And half-way back to Reno, I noticed this Murphy nose-print on the window.

It looks sort of like Heckle or Jeckle.

I started laughing and had to explain to my husband and brother how Murphy had created “art” with his nose on the window.

I consider it a Sign.

My mother sent me a sign after she died: two crow feathers.

Now my dad has joined her and the dog painted a nose-art rendition of Heckle or Jeckle.

It’s a sign.

Either my parents are in Heaven or they are trapped in a bizarre world of old cartoons.

Read into it what you want.

I think my mom was telling me that she was happy that Dad finally learned how to dance in the wind.


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I’m skipping ahead a little.

On July 4th, 2012, we took a little drive from Reno to Winnemucca, and from Winnemucca to Hinckey Summit in the Santa Rosa Mountains.

My mom’s ashes were scattered on Hinckey Summit by my brother some time after her death in 1995. Terry and I decided that we should reunite our parents, and the 4th of July was a very good day to do it.

Terry drove, Don sat in the passenger seat and I took a back seat with Murphy. I don’t remember the conversations: I spent much of my time staring out at the passing scenery, remembering bits and pieces of my childhood along the Nevada portion of the California Trail. The Humboldt Sink. Lovelock. Ryepatch Reservoir and the innumerable times I weaseled my way into a Thompson Family Outing with my best friend, just to hang out on the barren shores of the reservoir, basking in the sun and imagining the rolling hills as ancient dragons, now sleeping.

My best friend’s dad was a life-jacket Nazi. I remember being bundled up in an orange life jacket as we sped across the water in the Thompson’s motor boat to meet up with Lisa’s Reno cousins. Lisa’s mom always made something called ‘Shipwreck Stew’ what had beans, hamburger and the tomato-y taste of catsup in it.

The old rock and gem tourist trap outside of Winnemucca that my dad would never stop at – because it was a tourist trap.

Alkali, sagebrush, dust devils, geysers. And north from Winnemucca: the Humboldt River and it’s endless horse-shoe curves turning into one another, the Kearns’ Ranch (where Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid supposedly swapped out horses when they robbed the bank in Winnemucca), sand dunes and barbed wire. Bill Pogue was buried out there, somewhere.

You cannot capture a childhood in a single post. The “ditch” that ran in front of our home on E. Minor Street and the milkweed that grew wild. All the Monarch butterflies that laid eggs that hatched into caterpillars that we raised in jars and watched turn into their chrysalis form, and eventually into Monarchs butterflies. The feel of a Monarch butterfly on your hand as its wings dry and it gets ready to fly.

The ditch has been covered over and lawn planted where the milkweed grew. It was 1968 and I wanted to go lay down in front of the Caterpillars and protest, but my father wouldn’t allow it. “They paved Paradise and put up a parking lot.”

Trudi and Carolyn, my alternate best friends who now live in Heaven with my parents.

The turn to Paradise Valley. There used to be a bar and corrals at Paradise Junction: my parents would stop there for a beer while my sister and I played on the faded wood rails of the corrals. Sometimes they held a rodeo inside those corrals. All gone, now.

My sister and I, wiggling on the back seat, trying to be the first to see the white church steeple that meant we were coming near to Paradise Valley. A tree has grown up in front of the steeple now, and you don’t see it until you are actually in town. It’s the Catholic Church where they held “Kitty Kissings” when I was four years old (catechism). We lived in the Forest Service house right next door.

There’s a “swimming pool” in the yard: a rock-and-mortar structure made to hold water to fill the tanks of water trucks used to fight fires. Once upon a time, my dad’s favorite USFS bronc was penned in the swimming pool: Smokey was 17 years old and they were still afraid he’d jump the rails of the corral.

From Paradise Valley, we took the dirt road up to Hinckey Summit. And at the top, we parked and walked out to a rocky outcrop overlooking all the Santa Rosas and all of the alfalfa fields and sagebrush flats below.

“Do you want to say anything?” Terry asked.

“Just” ‘See you when I get there!'”

Then Don and I stood upwind while Terry scattered Dad’s ashes.

And then the wind turned.

By the time Terry was done, I was covered in Dad’s ashes. It was funny. It was so much like my dad.

We waved at people driving by and then we drove on down to Lye Creek Ranger Station. The gate was unlocked, so we drove in. Once upon a time, we were Forest Ranger kids who camped on the land around the RS. We had to stomp on little mice when our parents shook out the mattresses from the house.

I cried. My dad scolded me. But I could not kill baby mice.

My dad serenaded a good friend here one night. It was one of those group camps with everyone from either the four-wheel club or the square dance club. All the adults were several sheets to the wind. And my dad started a rendition of “Good Night Irene” to send our family friend (Irene) to bed. He was terribly off-key.

And my mother threatened him with death if he should start in “Roll Me Over in the Clover“.  I secretly hoped he would sing the song so I could know *why* my mother didn’t want me to hear it.

Terry and I remember different things. He said he didn’t remember being worried about rattlesnakes when we were on Hinckey Summit. I remember carrying a “snake stick” to rattle the sagebrush with and I remember my mom worrying about Terry exploring “Chocolate Mountain” with his friend when rattlers were active. We both remember the mice babies and me turning into a puddle of tears. We both know where the sheepherder’s cave is above Lye Creek RS (hidden now by brush). We remember the cabins and the people who owned them, the camp-outs with the families we grew up with and the petroglyphs.

I remember a trip out to the petroglyphs with the four-wheel club. We drove over Hinckey Summit and over Buckskin Pass. Somewhere along the way, we saw a mule deer doe that was running all out. She hit the barbed wire fence and it threw her back like a boomerang. My dad stopped and we stared, bated breath and all. The doe recovered, shook herself off and ran at the fence again. This time, she knew where it was and she jumped over it.

I was probably 12.

All those thoughts assailed my brain and more. We drove back to Reno and I thought some more.

But in the end, it was the swirl of Dad’s ashes on the same rocks where Terry scattered Mom’s ashes so many years ago. They’re together now, Mom and Dad. Lovers separated only by death and time. One last step in their dance, one last step in our journey through grief.

Today, they would have been married for 59 years. And today they are together, dancing on the peaks of the Santa Rosa Mountains overlooking Paradise Valley and Winnemucca, Nevada, where most of their happy memories were.

Happy Anniversary, Mom & Dad.

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