Archaeologists extricate prehistoric trash from their middens to learn about ancient people.
Sociologists go through trash cans to learn the habits of modern city dwellers.
The flotsam I see by the highway during my morning bicycle ride also has a lot to tell about Dubois.
It’s an interesting (if random and incomplete) picture of what we get up to around here.
There’s the usual kind of debris, of course: Pieces of tire tread, random paper trash, and lots and lots of beverage containers. (Why do so many people want to use the edge of our beautiful wilderness as their garbage can?)
The empties on the side of the road suggest that most people prefer brands of beer that I don’t like. (Or are the people who like my favorite brand less likely to toss the empties out the window? Oops. Political correctness alert!)
Many of the beverage containers are not for alcoholic drinks, of course.
But enough about real trash! What interested me was the items people inadvertently lose by the side of the road and never go back to retrieve. Given the prevalence of pick-up trucks on this highway, it’s easy to see how that might happen.
Exhibit #1. (The first item I saw, and the one that inspired this reflection. Clearly lost, not tossed. Who throws away one glove, especially such a good one?) Evidence of one of our favorite pastimes: Outdoor motor sports.
Did the owner need it for a motorcycle? Not likely, because then how did it slip away? My guess is it fell off an all-terrain vehicle, one of the most convenient ways to explore our abundant wilderness, when the vehicle was no longer on a back road.
Exhibit 2: Broken and repaired, the cover to a chain saw.
Testimony to one of the oldest activities in these mountains: Logging.
This heritage is more than a century old, beginning with the tie hacks, the Scandinavian immigrants who came here to bring down and hew the huge pine trees into ties for the new railroads.
I still see logging trucks lumbering down the highway, every day, bringing out more timber from the same forest.
Exhibit 3: So funny! Whoever lost (or let go) this broken box clearly didn’t get its message.
Exhibit #2 bespoke history; this tells of the future. The box contained a telecommunications cable, evidence of perhaps the most important activity for Dubois’ future: Laying the fiber optic cable that delivers our flawless Internet service.
I’ve blanked out the recipient’s name on the label to protect the possibly innocent. But I read the item description and Googled the distributor to discover the identity of the contents.
Exhibit 4: Whoever lost track of the rope at left probably didn’t need those instructions.
Was it left behind on the way to a camping trip or a hunting trip? Either way, it’s totally typical of activities around here.
Exhibit 5 (at right): Some kind of vent. Can you guess what it’s from?
My theory is it fell off someone’s home-made recreational vehicle, or at least a very old one.
RVs are a major presence on our highway, and many of them stop here. Besides the pleasant RV campgrounds along the river in and near our town, many of the motels have parking lots large enough to accommodate the big rigs. Many other campers just pass through on their way to or from Yellowstone. (Their loss.)
Exhibit 5: I’m delighted to report that as I crossed the bridge I noticed the Wind River beautifully clear and free of trash.
It does go the color of a nonfat latte after a major rainstorm, dirtied with Mother Nature’s refuse, not with ours. Within a day, it’s usually running clear and blue again.
I once met someone who wouldn’t let her dog go into the river. She was concerned about “all the pollution” upstream. You run into all kinds among the people passing through. (Maybe she hadn’t actually traveled in that direction yet.)
Exhibit 6: Quite a surprise.
What’s a golf ball doing out here, miles from the Antelope Hills Golf Course on the west side of town?
I’m not a golfer myself, but many of the townspeople are.
The golf course holds tournaments every month during the summer.
Exhibit 7: My last discovery on this expedition. Like the first, this clearly could not have been thrown away. Fishing boots belong in pairs.
So many of my neighbors are here precisely because of the great fly-fishing on this beautiful river and its tributaries. I don’t enjoy the sport, myself, but it does affect me: All too often one of my hiking buddies begs off to go fishing.
I didn’t pick up this castoff or any of the other trash I found this morning. I was on a bicycle, after all.
What’s more, just as I took the picture of the boot I was distracted by the sudden din coming from the other side of the buck-and-rail fence: Bellowing, roaring, whistling, shouting. It may have nothing to do with my topic of trash, but I can’t resist including this other occupation common to Dubois. Some of us do round up cattle now and again.The bellows and roars came from the creatures visible as a black mass at left here. The whistles and shouts came from the cattle-management experts indicated by the two arrows. I couldn’t get close enough to take a better picture until the cattle were already in the corral.
I’m not calling them “cowboys” because I noticed that two were wearing hot pink sweatshirts and one had very long black braid. (Political correctness alert: Maybe these days some Wyoming cowboys are wearing hot pink sweatshirts and long black braids. But somehow I doubt it.)
Notice the dog in the circle at right, who is also an expert and evidently an important factor in the roundup.
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© Lois Wingerson 2015