Now, Then and Beyond - Cover

Now, Then and Beyond

Copyright© 2024 by Riding the Trail

Chapter 1

I don’t know any more than you do about what happened, as I don’t read much sci-fi you may know more. I will try to explain all I do know and maybe you can figure out what happened.

About 2 years ago my wife died, a truck lost its load of lumber that wasn’t strapped down right. I had just turned 55 and our lives were going good. We were planning to go on a weeklong trip, just to get away together. We tried going places every few months, I worked for myself and would just schedule a few days without work. We didn’t get that chance, for the first few weeks I just seemed to stumble through. The loss was almost more than I could stand! Then I got mad!

I got all the reports from the Sheriff’s office, the highway patrol, and the NTSB since it involved a truck and a death. Then I went to one of those high profile law firms and asked what they could do? It took them a little over a week before they got back to me. The driver had tested positive for drugs, even though they were prescribed he had no business behind the wheel. The guys who had loaded the truck both had lots of write-ups for not doing what they were supposed to do, horseplay and smoking weed. The best part for me and the worst for them was the two that loaded the truck were cousins and related to someone in the Corp office. That was why they weren’t fired.

Seven months after the accident we were in court. No doubt on the fault, even though they tried. Since the files on the two loaders were bad and Corp wouldn’t let them be fired along with the driver taking pain pills. It was an easy case. When I did get a chance to get it all explained to me, I was to get 57 million and some change. The amount was set by the Judge, and he also said if the judgement was appealed the amount would double. I got a little over 40 million after the lawyer took his and taxes on punitive was paid. I got the check and just tucked it in the bank. I had no plans, no excitement over the money, just pain and that lost feeling over losing the most important part of my life.

After a couple of months of doing nothing, not really talking much to friends or our church family. I called Ricky and asked if he wanted to stop by sometime to talk. He came over the next day after work and I told him what I wanted to do. I was going to leave in April and head west and lose myself at least till winter and maybe longer. I was putting all the bills on auto pay and would turn the water off at the house. I wanted to put Ricky as my administrator in case something happened to me. I also wanted to make sure I could call if I needed help with something. He would stop by every week and check things for me. I had been taking cash out of the bank every other day, so I gave Ricky 25 grand in cash and a check for 500 grand. To say he was shocked was an understatement. I told him that for the past 30 years he and Karen had been our best friends and I wanted him to be able to enjoy his life a little easier. We were both middle, middle class, we wouldn’t starve but cars and big ticket items had to be planned and saved for. This would give them a lot of security and also allow for just a few things, like a new boat.

Next, I called Dan our preacher. We went to a small church, but one that had a little money put back for emergencies and could help out a few things that were important to the church. I gave Dan a check for 50 grand and told him that I was setting up a yearly deposit for 25 grand. That would pay all the utilities and then some for kids.

I had a few more places I wanted to help and a couple more friends I wanted to give a little bit to. I found a good investment firm and worked out what I wanted to do. I was going to buy a F350 ford dually and a 4 horse trailer with living space in the front. I only planned on 3 horses but wanted one stall boxed in for a freezer and pantry. Those and the horses were the big items I planned to buy. Anything else I could put on a card.

It took about a week to get the truck after I ordered it, they had to put a gooseneck hitch on and some lights I wanted added. While I was waiting on the truck, I looked for a trailer and found one in Ky. I went to look at it, it was perfect. I talked them through how I wanted the stall boxed in, the wiring and shelves built. After a lot of back and forth we got everything signed and paid for, I held back 10 grand until I agreed everything was done right. They said they knew I would like it so I was given the title so I could get tags for it. After I picked up the truck and got it tagged and insured, I went to visit a guy I knew who had a stable to see if he would have room for 3 horses. He had 2 he could rent now and 2 more were coming empty at the first of the month. The owner of the 2 that were coming open was moving for his job and had to sale his girls horses. I took the 2 empty stalls and asked if I could look at the horses? So, we went, and Randy showed me the horses, one was just too small, maybe 700 lbs., the other one was about 16 hands, 11-1200 lbs. of muscle and beauty. I ask Randy if she was as good as she looked? He said, “yes and even better her gait is so smooth you think your sitting on you recliner.” I ask how much is he trying to get for her, as was told since they were going to take it to the auction if I offered $1,500 I’d probably get her. After a phone call we set up a meet for that afternoon. I got her and agreed to buy the other one for $1,000. I also agreed to let his kids come out and spend Saturday saying their goodbyes and riding. I gave him another $1,000 and got all the tack and grooming tools and products.

I went looking for a couple more horses using Randy’s contacts I was able to get another mare and a gelding. Both were about the same size and shape, all 3 being mostly quarter horse. Now it was saddle and packsaddles along with all the tack I would need. I didn’t know it but was told to go to Atlanta as they had all sorts of wholesale places to get whatever I could dream of. I not only got the perfect saddle for me I found some hard sided panners that one side held all your cooking stuff and the other held all your food and spices. Then a synthetic set for all the rest of the stuff. Lead ropes, halters, ropes, saddle blankets, etc ... After I got home from 2 days in Atlanta, I got a call my trailer was ready, so it was off to Ky. It was all I could have ask for and pulled like a dream. I had about 6 weeks to work with the horses to get them to work together. I would change off every day I could be with them as to which got rode and which got the packs. They were good horses and did well with whatever chore they were given. The small horse I had bought found a home for disabled kids. I gave them all the tack that went with it too.

It was time to leave, I had looked up stables along the way and campgrounds that allowed horses. I was going to western Wy to start with and had a place for me and the horses. It took a week to get there, well 8 days as I was new at this and stopped more often than I needed to. Leaving the South and going to Wy is a big shock, over a foot of snow on the ground and in the teens at 2 in the afternoon. The stable guy helped me get the horses in their stalls and I was glad I had blankets for them. After getting the horses settled and fed, I got myself checked into the lodge, I was told I had about an hour to get cleaned up and ready for dinner. Tonight was burritos and all the fixing, man was it good.

This place was really nice, it was the first time I could afford something this nice and also the first time I was vacationing without my wife. I was really down for a few days and knew Becky wouldn’t want me to be so down. Every day I went out and talked to the horses and combed them out, the stable hand Ken fed and moved them out so they could walk some and he could clean the stalls. I stayed in the lodge instead of a cabin because I got meals included and it was an easy walk to the stable. It was a week before I got to ride any and that was only an hour on each horse. I did go into the little town every day and eat lunch and talk to anyone that would talk. I wanted to know all the trails up to the Tetons and thru Yellowstone that you could ride. I also was looking to where I could go and stay in my trailer and use it as a base camp. I also used my laptop looking for what I wanted. I was staying at the lodge because they adjoined a park I could ride and camp in to give myself and the horses a chance to work all the kinks out.

The weather was finally getting better I was going to go out in the morning and come back in 2 days. I had everything packed and ready to go, I was going to eat breakfast and leave. It took forever to fall asleep, and it seemed I just had when it was time to get up. I showered quickly and had a real good breakfast and said my goodbyes. I saddled up the horses and off we went. We took it easy and followed the trail as it was well marked. I was having the first good time in 2 years. Just the quiet and tranquility was everything I could ask for. I saw my first bear maybe 200 yards off to the side of the trail and watched it for a few minutes then moved on glad I was armed, but unafraid of nature. That night I set up the tent, watered the horses leaving them hobbled next to me. I cooked dinner and made coffee. I brought the horse to the picket line and finally after all was done, I just sat by the fire and thought about my life, where I was and where I was going.

The next day was fun, hard work and lots of learning by error. It was also the most peaceful. I hadn’t seen a car or plane, not even a person for the whole day. Tonight, I would be staying in an old cabin that was on the trail. It had a corral and just a single room cabin, but that was all I needed. It did have a wood stove and that was how I cooked supper. The horses seemed to like being on the trail and me talking to them. All in all, it was a great 2 nights out! I took a few day trips riding one horse and the next time a different one. I also drove into town and looked thru the different stores looking for things I might need. I found a really old 410 double barrel shot gun and a Yellowboy 44 rimfire. I bought those from the pawn store and went to the gun store for ammo. He only had 3 boxes of the 44, but all the 410 stuff I could want. I got some birdshot, buckshot and slugs.

I went to a box store and bought the groceries I thought I would need for 6 months, at least the staple. Case of salt, 100 lbs. of sugar, 50 lbs. cornmeal, 200 lbs. flour, bake soda and powder, beans, potatoes, cases of corn, tomatoes, coffee, tea, canned meats. Then stuff for the freezer, meats, sausages, ice cream. I would get bread, milk and stuff like that when I left the resort. I was getting closer to being out in the trailer by myself.

The owners of the resort told me about a place owned by a timber company in Idaho that they thought would fit my needs. It was several thousand acres butting up to the Tetons. There used to be a lodge there that employees could stay at, but a fire about 5 years ago had taken it out. What it still had was some old pole corrals that may or may not be good, a well that might need a new hand pump and should have good grass for grazing. They had gotten permission for me to go look at it. With the help of google maps I found where it was, and the next morning took off for the 70 mile trip.

After getting directions the 70 miles turned into a little over 100 and took almost 3 hours. I took another 40 min going down the old logging road. But I finally got to the old lodge site, and it looked pretty good. I got out and started to look around and then walked back and put on a Ruger 22 six shooter and put rat shot in. I am not a big fan of snakes and wanted a way to get rid of them. The more I walked around the better I liked it. I found the well, I pumped a few times with nothing happening, yet it felt good. I went to one set of poles, and they were just rotten, so I went about 100 yards and found the other corral. It looked a lot better, this one was made almost all of cedar. The gate boards were shot, that would be an easy fix. Looking just west I could see some caves going into the cliffs. I walked back to the truck and pulled a sandwich and Pepsi out of the cooler sat on the tailgate and had lunch. I kept looking at everything, I saw all sorts of wildlife. Birds, squirrels, deer, all you had to do was sit back and watch. After eating I picked up 2 bottles of water and went over to the well and after pouring one in, I pumped some and got a little water out, so I poured the other in and in no time I was pumping up big bursts of water. I kept pumping and the water kept coming. With water this looked like the perfect place to spend the next several months. Going back out the log road I fixed a few places and rolled a few rocks out of the way.

Back at the resort I told them about my day and asked who I needed to talk to to rent that area for a while. Carl called the company and talked to one of the owners and called me over to talk to Derrick. I told him what I had seen today and the condition of everything. He wanted to know what I had planned, I told him about my wife and all I had done since then. He said, “well you wouldn’t mind paying $10,000 a year rent for it.” I’m good with that, I said. “OK then this is what I want. $1.00 in the form of a check and a report on what you see out there. The condition of the land and trees, any old growth and the quality and quantity of the wildlife. For that I will give you a 2 year lease.” I was told the check I could mail and tomorrow he would fax a lease to me. He told me “Good luck on your journey, my wife and I spent most of a fall and all winter there about 10 years ago when our son died. It took over a year after we found the cancer. We were both so lost, we went out there and over the course of time we were able to start living our lives again. The beauty and tranquility of the mountains and the voices of the wild helped us so much.”

I was real happy the way everything was going. I went to town the next day pulling the trailer, I stopped at the feed store and bought 125, 90 lb. bales of hay and had them loaded. I also got 10 bags of feed, 2 large tarps and some large spikes to cover the hay with. I found a 40 gal water tank and some 5 gal buckets. I then stopped by the hardware store and got some lumber, nails and rope, things I thought I would need. I also picked up 10, 10’ pieces of roofing metal [I wanted to fix a place the horses could get out of the weather], shovels, splitting maul, pitchfork. I had a chain saw and a lot of stuff already in the trailer. Next was the gas station to fill up my tanks and the 3 cans I had for gas.

After getting back I checked everything, and the stable hand helped me strap down the stuff. I took off the next day and took the stable hands brothers with me. Jeff and Jim were both in high school and the $100.00 each they would get for unloading everything sounded good to them. It took just a little longer to get there pulling the trailer, but we made it ok. It took about 4 hours to get everything unloaded and covered, in the middle of it we ate a lunch of subs and chips. It was just getting dark when we got back, I gave both boys an extra $50.00, just glad I had them to help.

That night at the lodge I told everyone goodbye as I would be leaving in the morning after breakfast. I went ahead and paid my bill plus $500.00 for all the help they had given me. Breakfast was a real treat, eggs, sausage, bacon, biscuits, gravy and all the fixings. I stopped by the grocery store for all the last minute things I would need. Went to the gas station and refilled the one tank. Parked and walked next door to the KFC and got a big bucket of chicken to take with me. I checked to make sure the horses were ok and had some hay in the bin. I was finally off. Just a little after 1:00 pm I parked and started unloading the horses, as I took them out, I hobbled them and let them graze. I filled up the water tank and left them to get settled. I was close by so they could see and hear me. Next, I unhooked the trailer and started getting everything ready for me to live. I was on a level spot where the lodge used to be, and I found the old septic line and a concrete slab about 8’x10’ I parked my door leading down to it. I was going to make a little porch over it so I could get out even if it was snowing or raining.

It was nonstop work for almost a week. I fixed a place for the horse to get out of the weather. It was 3 sided, I had the 10 panels on the roof. I would get another 20 panels to make them just a bit bigger. I also wanted to get some pvc and run a line from the pump to the horses, now I let them graze hobbled every day, and they could make it to the water with no problems. I would put them in the corral at night. I decided I had worked enough for a few days and planned a little overnight or 2 night trip. I had not seen anyone or heard anything since I had been here and thought my stuff was safe enough. It would take a lot of work to break-in to the camper as it was mostly steel.

The next morning, I saddled up and off we went, I headed towards the cliffs with the caves. As I got closer, I found all sorts of tracks both small and large. I saw no sign of bears but did see some bobcat and coyote tracks. I had heard them several times. I rode up to one of the caves and got off to look around, it wasn’t very deep but looked dry and you could see old soot on the ceiling where someone had a fire. I walked around some and saw a big boulder I wanted to take a look at. When I got to it, you could see a trail about 10’ wide going behind it. I followed it and went maybe 100’ and was amazed when I saw it open up and a green valley, who knows how big was there. I knew I wanted to see more of this, so I went back for the horses and rode into the valley.

Two days later I came out of the valley, it was more like a bowl. About 10 miles deep and 5 wide, all old growth trees, with several pasture like areas of an acre or two thru out the bowl. There were also several springs, so water was easy to get. I was sitting in a camp chair that evening drinking coffee and watching the fire as I thought about the last few days. I had found a set of at least 5 caves that I looked through and in 2 of them had very old writings on the walls and one had a very old fire ring and what looked like bunks carved into the side walls for sleeping. I had decided to put my bed roll in the cave, have a fire in the old fire ring and spend a couple nights. I had a dream the first night, an old man not really an Indian but more Mayan sat across from me telling me a tale of old things and even things about me. I woke up confused as you might guess and just thought what a wild dream I had.

As the day went on, I forgot about most of the dream and just had fun I went exploring for a while and found a nice little creek and decided I would try to fish and got out my little travel rod and reel, put a small fake grub on and tried my luck. In a matter of less than 10 minutes I had 4 nice little trout. This would make a great supper with some fried taters and onions. I cleaned the fish and put them in a bag to take back with me. After a really leisurely day of fun, I made it back to the cave, fixed dinner and ate. I again kicked back with my coffee and reflected on my life, how I was going to make it alone.

As I was hurting the old Mayan just sort of appeared, I was shocked to say the least. But not really scared, I think the dream helped. So, we talked, he wanted something from me and in return he could give me a new life. After what seemed like days of talking, yet according to my watch was less than 15 minutes. I knew all he wanted from me and what he would give me. It was more than I could ever dream of or ask for.

Part 2

I was wakened by a crash of thunder! I got up and looked out at the rain and wondered if I had dreamed everything or had it happened? I had left my horses hobbled and they had found the overhang and were out of the rain. It was clearing up as I was making breakfast. I only had about a 2 mile ride back to my trailer and I was going to wait till it cleared up and I wanted to dry off the horses before I saddled them up. After I got back, I was surprised to see a wagon in the place of my trailer and a nice cabin and barn. I now knew everything was true.

I unsaddled the horses, put them into a corral that was next to the barn, then looked around at everything. The barn had several stalls, a nice tack room, hay and feed was plentiful. It was just forked hay no bales. There was also a bunk room for hired hands. On to the cabin, it was 3 rooms a nice size living room/kitchen with a wood cook stove and a regular heating stove. There was a counter and some shelves and a hand pump inside. The other 2 rooms were bedrooms. Then I went out to look at the wagon, inside were most of the things I had in the camper. I got to keep my guns, knives and the food. No cans, but jars of preserved foods, veggies, fruits and meats. No gas items but I did have axes, mauls and crosscut saws. I also had a leather folder with the title to 100 sections of land. I also had a Wells Fargo receipt for $200,000. I was set, I had food, a place to live and a place for my horses.

I spent a few days getting things set up the way I wanted them and just get used to the fact I was now living in 1866. I knew I was about 3 days ride with pack horses or 4 with a wagon in good weather to reach town. I wasn’t known by anyone as the land was purchased at the territory office and not from Green River, which was the closest town. I wasn’t sure what day it was, just that tomorrow I was going to head to Green River. I had a 44/40 revolver and lever action I was going to take along with a hidden 38. I also had that 410 I wanted for hunting small game on the trail.

3 days later I rode into the small town of Green River, the sign said pop. 243. I could see about 20 to 25 buildings that looked like businesses and maybe 20 houses. Not sure where to go I asked a boy about 12 or so where I could find a stable and a hotel? he gave me a hard look and said “you don’t want to use the stable as you will surely get robbed, maybe killed. Mrs. Shirley has a boarding house that has a small stable she lets customers use.” That got me thinking and I asked if he would take me there if I gave him a dime? “For a dime I’ll take care of your horses to.” It was about mid-day as I was led to Mrs. Shirley’s and yes she had a room open and she included morning and evening meals, but no lunch and she would include the horses for $1.25 a day, but I had to take care of them and if I wanted grain I had to buy it. That sounded good to me, and I had Joe, my guide, help me get the horses settled and ask where I could get lunch? “The bar has some food you can get if you buy a beer, the store has crackers, cheese and meat, there’s a restaurant I heard was really costly and not to good or the little Mexican place has good food. Sometimes they will give me a burrito if they need me to help them with writing.”

Well Joe here’s your dime for helping and if you’ll show me where the Mexican place is I’ll buy you lunch, if it’s ok with your folks. “I don’t have any family and only a couple of friends so I can eat with you.” Joe had had it pretty rough the last few years. He was traveling west with his parents, they got sick and died. The wagon master seemed to have really taken advantage of Joe, he took his wagon, mules and everything else and left Joe with $20 and a few clothes. The Stable owner was a single old guy who was pretty strict but gave Joe a place to stay in the hayloft and fed him twice a day. Every once in a while, he would get a used pair of pants or shirt, when his shoes wore out, he would get him a pair. The man wasn’t mean, just didn’t get along well with others. About 3 months ago 3 men came to town, joe was taking a horse back to its owner. When he got back Ned wasn’t there, a big rough looking guy was and said he bought the stable. Joe knew that wasn’t the truth, but what could he do? He snuck into the stables that night and got his clothes and what little possessions he had as well as about $15.00 he had been saving. He never heard anything from anyone about Ned, one of the men took over the stables and the other two appointed themselves Town Marshall and Deputy. How anyone can just intimidate a town and appoint themselves into office I may never know. Joe had been noticing that people who left a horse at the stable and left town, never came back. The horse and tack would make its way into the stable to be sold, but never the person who owned them. That is why he warned me, he said he didn’t want to be responsible for someone’s life.

I thanked him and as we had finished lunch I asked where he lived now? “I’m in an old shack just on the edge of town. There is no stove, so it has been really cold these last few months. My friend Bobby gave me a blanket his mom didn’t need, and I had my two. I took some real old horse blankets from the Ned’s when no one was there and made a pallet to sleep on. I think I’ll have to leave this year as there just isn’t any work anyone will give me. A few people will let me bring in wood for them and do little things, but not enough to really live. Bobby’s family tries to feed me a couple times a week, but since his dad got hurt and he lost his job they barely have enough. Mrs. Shirley helps some and this place feeds me sometimes if they need something read or written in English.” I was surprised he could read and write well enough to do it for others. Seems he was older than I thought at 14 and his mother and father taught him to read at a young age. He was down to his last 6 dollars and was getting worried about what to do.

I asked Joe to come by Mrs. Shirley’s in a few hours and to bring some grain for my horses and gave him a dollar to get some for me. We parted ways and I headed to check out my room and see if anyone was there that wanted to talk, I needed information. After getting my clothes hung up and put away, I went out to the porch and Mrs. Shirly and an old guy by the name of Harold were sitting out on chairs in the shade. She had a pitcher of water sitting out and I was told to help myself. I told them I was a landowner a few days away and this seemed to be the closest town to me. I ask about the bank, the closest Wells Fargo, the general store and the stables. The Bank was one of several throughout the territory and as far as they knew sound. They were careful on loans but did have some money to loan out. Wells Fargo had an office in town next to the saloon/restaurant an agent was there 2 hours in the mornings 10-12, He was also the train station worker and telegraph operator. I would at some time meet the bank manager and get a account set up. I would need something for the ranch and a way to pay for things in town. I would keep most of the Wells Fargo money with Wells Fargo as I could access it anywhere. I also heard a little about Joe, Mrs. Shirley said he was honest, worked hard and tried to keep clean. He just didn’t have clothes that were worth wearing very often. He had no real way of repairing them nor the money to buy more. So, he made do with hand me downs and throw aways. He was known to help his friend whenever he could. They tried to feed Joe when they could, but they were scraping the pot just to feed themselves. Bobby’s dad had broken his leg about 2 years ago and it didn’t heal right. He was working for a local ranch as foreman and was able to keep his job until the owner died and his son took over. The son didn’t want a “cripple” on his ranch, so he was fired and had to move into a old shack. with a wife and 3 kids, the few dollars he was able to make just barely kept them alive.

I told Mrs. Shirley I was thinking about hiring Joe for the next several days, and asked if she had a room for him. She said if I wanted to she would let him sleep in the room attached to the barn, it had a bunk and she would find a couple blankets and candles for him. She would let me have it for $5.00 a week and that included 2 meals same as me. I would have gotten him a room in the house, but then thought it might be better to have him stay close to the horses and gear. I was going to ask him if he wanted a job as soon as he came to feed the horses.

Yes he wanted the job and would sleep in the barn room, he was going to get his stuff, and would be back in about a half hour. I asked if he needed any help? He said no he could put everything in a blanket and would be right back to feed the horses. It would be about an hour and a half before it was time to eat so I decided to walk over to the bank and met George, the bank manager. I introduced myself as a new land owner, soon to be rancher, who wanted to open an account with him. I needed to know what to do to transfer $25,000 from Wells Fargo to him? I was told real fast he didn’t want $25,000 because he didn’t have a safe place to store it. Western Bank had 3 location in Colorado and 2 in Wyoming. His bank and the other one in Wyoming kept what money they had locally so anything over a few thousand was too big of a target for bank robbers. He said that Wells Fargo could have large sums of money brought in within a week of asking for it. So, if I wanted to help the community, I could start an account with just a few thousand that could be used to pay for local things, and he would use part of it to loan out in the community. If I had any big purchases, it could be brought in on Wells Fargo. All in all, things were going good.

The source of this story is Finestories

To read the complete story you need to be logged in:
Log In or
Register for a Free account (Why register?)

Get No-Registration Temporary Access*

* Allows you 3 stories to read in 24 hours.