Antlers across America

Antlers, antlers and more antlers! When I saw the beautiful antler arches located on each corner of the town square in Jackson, I thought they were impressively large and beautiful. Little did I know I would have the privilege of seeing the world's LARGEST elk antler arch when I drove through Afton, Wyoming later Wednesday afternoon.

I also liked this take on antler art that I saw as I passed through Alpine, Wyoming (left). It was in front of an antler furniture store that I popped into in search of my all elusive jackalope trophy. I thought I'd hit paydirt when the very nice gentleman that ran the place said he didn't have any, but suggested I head down the highway a short way and knock on the door of the woman whose husband had made the best jackalopes to be found anywhere (at least according to Shaun). The jackalope master had died several years back, but Shaun thought his wife might still have some of his work in her storage shed. It had all the earmarks of a roadside miracle, but alas, when I knocked on the poor woman's door, she did little but smile nervously at my attempts to explain my plight. "I had a bunch of those things, but I sold every one of them" she offered apologetically. I could hardly blame her for being a bit put off by a woman with pink hair stopping in on a whim to ask after jackalopes - probably not a situation she was accustomed to dealing with.
Soon afterwards, I rolled into the town of Afton, Wyoming and was delighted to see an enormous arch of elk antlers spanning the main avenue crowned by a pair of concrete elk, antlers locked in a stony death struggle. I hurriedly pulled over and parked - no way I was going to pass this little gem up!


Afton, it turned out, totally had it going on. Not only did they lay claim to the largest elk antler arch in the world, but a local artist had embellished a number of the buildings, sidewalks and lightposts with figurative concrete sculptures that gave the tiny town a huge dose of character. I especially liked the pair of busts framing the Ford Theater - John Wayne and Audrey Hepburn! The Ford dealership had also been adorned with a giant bas-relief monster truck, ATV and motorcycle along with a bust of a fellow I assumed was the owner.

It's always such a delight to me to drive into a little town that is distinctive. It's an elusive quality, one which I'm sure city planners struggle with as they work to help their tiny outposts survive. Some get it very, very right and others fail miserably, mostly because of temerity I would imagine.

Soon after I'd resumed my drive, I passed a construction site, made my usual visual inspection to see if there were any cool pieces of earth moving machinery or other oddities I needed to see and then after a few clicks I began to smile broadly. Enough so that I performed the 829th one-eighty turn in the middle of the highway and went back to take a picture. This probably won't tickle anyone as much as it did me (I guess that's one of my qualities!) but take a careful look at this picture if you're intrested (you'll probably want to click on it to enlarge the image):

What we have here are the beginnings of a country subdivision. The first step has been to make small mounds of dirt on the valley floor, and then sprinkle native pines among the hillocks, all set against a sweeping backdrop of mountains dotted with pine forests. Isn't it hilarious how man will go to so much trouble to tame a thing? To dumb it down, to make it safe, to precious-ize it? Aren't those little hills cute? Not nearly so troublesome as mountains, you see. We are definitely creatures that like to pretend we control things. We have all sorts of elaborate rituals we engage to pretend we are the masters of our world. Hee hee! Arrogant humans!

Much more to my liking and just down the road I discovered some farmer/field art.

I love it when people take on the challenge of the huge canvas. Somehow they see a pheasant instead of a bunch of crappy old corregated metal roofing and can envision shovels as ears. Hooray for the person who thinks they can! Because they can, you see. Yahooooooo!

I soon popped into the southeast corner of Idaho for a brief transit that would carry me past Bear Lake and to the beautiful canyon drive that led to Logan, Utah. My dear friend Bruce is currently stationed in Logan and I was very much looking forward to spending a couple of relaxed and happy days with him. I also planned to visit a couple of other folks I dearly love who call this area home, Stuart and Chris. Not only would it be good to see all these wonderful people, but the timing was perfect for curing my mild case of loneliness.

Shortly after I arrived in Logan, I met up with Bruce at his parents' place, an opportunity I was happy to exercise since I've looked forward to meeting Bruce's folks for a while now. After a brief round of introductions and some initial chitchat, Bruce and his friend Ellen and I chose to go to a local Asian eatery (Bruce treated me to a thrilling motorcycle ride!) to experience a dish I'd heard Nate talk about for years: tiny spicy chicken. The chicken was swell, but Ellen had the foresight to order the Bo-Bo Platter to get us started, which fortuitously had fire! Always a bonus. The three of us sat and chatted easily and plentifully. It felt very much like having a nice strong cup of coffee after a long hard night. It gave me a renewed strength and presence that I very much appreciated. I could feel my batteries recharging.

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