Toby and I start each morning with a cup of coffee. After he leaves for work, there is usually one more cup of coffee for me. I'm sure he gets another cup of coffee at work, so I don't feel bad about getting the last cup here at the house. The ladies that I exercise with tease me because I whine about going to exercise and say that I would much rather be home curled up with my coffee. Later in the day, I switch from coffee to hot tea. My favorite is just regular old Lipton tea with a bit of sweetener, which leads to my story:
When we were still in NM, Toby tried several times to get a regular elk hunt license. He had had a black powder hunt, which is a bit earlier than the rifle hunt. Hunting with the black powder gun was more difficult, since you only get one shot and then have to reload. Carrying that heavy son-of-a-gun, black powder rifel (pun intended) was difficult too. I may have mentioned that Toby took me on one of these hunts.
We got up before the sun and hiked up the mountain road to Fourth of July Canyon. We sat on the side of the mountain overlooking the valley as the sun came up and waited for elk. Toby had had me wash his clothes in baking soda to remove any strange smells that the elk might notice. While we were sitting there waiting on elk, I told him that I had not washed his underwear with baking soda. He replied,"Lou, if I get close enough to an elk that he can smell my underwear, I better be able to shoot him." I found sitting on the side of the mountain in total silence extremely boring. After a while Toby announced we might as well leave since I had "coughed, sneezed, blown my nose, farted, and scared off any elk in the area." Indignantly, I said, "I did not fart."
Back to the story of Lipton tea. One year NM was suppose to offer more rifle elk hunts. To assure that we got one, Bo, Toby, and I all applied for a hunt - hoping that at least one of us would draw out. Instead all three of us got a hunting license. My previous story should tell you how well I hunt for elk. And my hunt went very similar as before. It was snowing when Toby took me up the mountain for my hunt. I hiked and climbed and rolled down about half the mountain (carrying my gun) before Toby gave up on me and took me home to warm up. In the meantime, Bo was up another mountain with a friend of ours who happened to be a serious trapper/hunter. About 5PM, we got a call that they had gotten an elk and needed help getting it down the mountain.
We drove back to RR to the upper valley where we had to hike up Goose Creek Trail. Susie and her boys (the trapper's wife and kids - search my blog for more stories of her) met us there. It was several miles up the trail before we got t ao Bo and Darwin. Darwin had already started butchering the elk. He had built a fire, skinned the elk, and was cutting it into pieces to fit in backpacks for the trip down. Of course it was dark and cold before we got everything ready for the hike down the mountain. Everyone did their part carrying the elk and guns. Toby had a backpack full of elk, while I carried a gun. Bo and Darwin also toted elk. One of Susie's boys carried the rack of antlers, which was huge. The good news was there was a moon and it lit up the trail and the snow well enough that we could see our way down the mountain. Not that it was still not difficult, but the moon and snow actually made it easier. It was a long ways - especially after Toby and I had already hiked all over a mountain on my elk hunt. We got down to our vehicles about 10 PM. When I helped Toby take off his backpack with elk meat, he almost went to his knees. That backpack had been heavy! We were all tired, cold, and hungry. Susie went to her truck and brought out a thermos. She offered each of us a hot drink. It was the best hot drink ever. It was simply hot Lipton tea with a bit of sugar.
It has been 20 years since I have seen my friend, Susie. Now when I drink my hot Lipton tea, I think of her and her boys and her fantastic way of life and I wonder how she is doing.