Things I Saw Today

All too often we forget how lucky we are to live in Wyoming. Sometimes we don’t take the time to look around enough. With the economy in a temporary tank now is the perfect time to see the good things.

Seagulls in the North Platte River

For me it doesn’t take much, just a short drive, about an hour, is all it takes. Today with the snow falling that is what we did, took a short drive. As usual, the sites were terrific. What a great place to live.

Trickle Falls in Guernsey State Park

I did, as I always do, took along my camera.

Turkey in the Snow

So today’s post is – stuff I saw in the park today.

Spring, even if it is Snowing

-Once again it is time for monthly Wyoming Trivia-

         1.  What was the dividing line for Wyoming’s first two counties?

          2.  How many counties did Wyoming have when it became a state?

       3. The time of the mountain men was an interesting and colorful part of Wyoming history and the great event of the year for any mountain man was the annual rendezvous. How many Rendezvous were held?

See Answers below photo – don’t peek.

Family Outing

1.     The Continental Divide
2.     13

3.     16

A Wyoming Picture - Horses in the Snow

War-Paint Not Always


Whenever the term war-paint is mentioned I tend to cringe. Native tribes in the west used paint, but doing battle with another tribe was only one instance when it was used. The practice of face and body painting, and sometimes of their animals was done by self or often by another and symbolic of countless occasions. Paint could be used to dance, for a big hunt, or a coming home riding through camp in a victory celebration. Almost any type of significant accomplishment might be a time to bring out the paint. Painting of faces and bodies also was used in mourning.

The colors used were meaningful and often quite hard to obtain. When the first traders arrived paint became an important trade item and brought a rather large price. Of all the colors red was most used and because of that most sought after. The area in and around Hartville, Wyoming, including Sunrise, the Hell Gap area, and Guernsey State Park are blessed with large deposits of iron oxide. Tribes came for miles and for centuries to this area to obtain the deep red earth found there.

Rich Red Pigment Provided by Nature

The Sacred Pipe

In Joseph Brown’s wonderful book of more than 60 years ago, The Sacred Pipe: Black Elk’s Account of the Seven Rites of the Oglala Sioux, he wrote, “By being painted, the people have been changed. They have undergone a new birth, and with this, they have new responsibilities, new obligations, and a new relationship.”

Next time you watch an old movie where the Indians are painted for war, think this, “Maybe not, they might be painted for many things.”

Bring on the Tourists

Must Be In Wyoming

With Wyoming coal now suffering at the hands of environmentalists, the downturn in crude oil prices, and natural gas, seemingly in abundance everywhere, Wyoming, once again, is seeing an economic slowdown. We have been through these before the last big one in the 1980s and a smaller one in the 90s. The difference is that this time there may be no natural recovery. 

So now is the time for Wyoming to go to work. Survival without the huge money from the minerals industries. At one time ranching was Wyoming’s lifeblood, no longer. It should, and will stay as part of Wyoming’s economy, but will never be able to put the state on its back and carry it. Farming is iffy in our high country and now with corn prices falling to half what they were two years ago I would suspect we will see less, not more farm products growing in our state.

What can we do?
 First, we cannot spout only gloom and doom. Nor can we simply continue to say we need to promote more businesses to open or move to the state – that should be a given, and always a part of the state's economic strategy.

My two cents worth
I believe that we need to put more money, not less, into parks and park staffs, expand, historical, cultural and physical opportunities in Wyoming’s State Parks. Game and Fish needs to continue to expand stocking, and fishing opportunities and the state needs to look into additional trout fishing areas. The area where I live on the North Platte River, below Guernsey Dam, could be a fantastic fishery, but I don’t see the fisherman there any longer. I not sure why the fishing is no longer as good but with a state park and Fort Laramie nearby it would, and could be a day long stop for tourists. I am sure there are places and situations like this all over the state, and we need to keep working on them.

The View North From Guernsey State Park's Brimmer Point

Visitors spent nearly three and a half billion dollars in our state last year. We saw a five percent growth in that vital industry in 2015. The State Parks and Historic sites and Game and Fish do a terrific job with limited resources. Now might be a good time to spend significantly more in these areas, expand staff and spend money to make money. Keep this high growth industry on the move.  Adding to facilities, expanding opportunities for visitors. The question will undoubtedly be, where do we get the money? Find it? I have long marveled that out of state boaters are not charged to put a boat into Wyoming waters. Out of state camping fees could be slightly raised, as could out of state hunting and fishing licenses. Our lodging tax is also low compared to surrounding areas.

We are going to need to see growth in tourism every year. There needs to be a way to get out of state visitors to spend more days when they visit. I think Wyoming’s office of tourism is on the right track building an awareness of Wyoming and all the historical and recreational opportunities available here. Now may be the time to spend money.

Who Doesn't Want to see a Grizzly? - Just Not Too Close

10 Things we have, in Wyoming that no one else has
1.     Fort Laramie – The most important outpost in the American West
2.     Frontier Days – The greatest rodeo in the world (Real Cowboys)
3.     Unspoiled areas, without roads and wires – unparalleled opportunities for backpacking and wilderness camping
4.     Incredible wildlife – Visitors could see more wildlife driving through than they will be able to see anywhere else
5.     Devils Tower – Legends and Movies
6.     Yellowstone and Grand Teton – Magnificent
7.     Great snow for winter enthusiasts of all kinds
8.     Hunting and fishing as good as it gets in the United States
9.     More Pronghorn than people
10.   So many places to sit, all alone, where nature overtakes the modern world

Lots and Lots of Pronghorn - These Guys are Fast

5 things we do not have in Wyoming
1.     Busy Highways and traffic jams
2.     Huge shopping malls
3.     Air pollution
4.     Urban sprawl
5.     Unobstructed views – sorry too many mountains in the way

I May Have Stretched the Truth Here - Guess We Do Have the Occasional Trafic Jam

Need a good read?

Thoughts on the Impending Spring Blizzard

If the weather man is correct, it looks like we are in for another spring storm starting this evening. Prediction for 8-14 inches of heavy wet snow for this area. Wyoming weather is not the most predictable so, who knows? As I have mentioned before, we need the moisture. I did get the fertilizer on the lawn yesterday which means if the snow comes, my timing was impeccable.

Coming Soon - Right Here

Back in the Old Days
When Wyoming first established itself as cattle country, ranchers, some good and some not so good brought in cattle by the thousand. Texas Longhorns were cheap and once they were here much of the range was open and free to run cattle. In 1874, Wyoming had less than 100,000 head of cattle, five years later more than half a million grazed the state.

This Old Boy Doesn't Look Too Concerned  About Bad Weather Coming

At that time, ranchers believed the weather was predictable and that the winter winds would keep much of the range open during the cold months, but they were wrong. Today we have many types of sophisticated weather equipment to predict storms like the one coming in a few hours. In the 1870s and 80s, it was weather guessed by the seat of their pants. Most new cattlemen either hoped for no bad weather or simply supposed it would not come. Nice try but it did not work.

The Great Blizzard of 1887
In November of 1886 heavy snow started to fall, so much of it in fact,  that the range was covered for two months. Warm windy days in January of 1887 staved off a complete disaster, but then the blizzard came. One of the states worst hit on January, 28 dumping massive amounts of snow for four days. The results were a disaster, tens of thousands of cattle were dead and stockmen would never treat winter the same again.

Bison, Unlike Cattle, Seem to Have No Problem with Snow Cover

Cattle herds were rebuilt more slowly and much more carefully after that eventful blizzard and ranching in the Cowboy State would never be the same. Cattle would no longer be left, far out on the range to fend for themselves all winter long. Ranchers would move cattle from the high country in the early fall, and many started to put up hay to ensure feed if snows became too much.

So Here We Go again
 Getting ready for our third spring snowstorm of the season. I planted some potatoes and peas in my garden but don’t suppose they will mind some cold and snow. Our trees are starting to leaf out and our early flowers look terrific, maybe not so much on Sunday.

Looks Like it Might Be a Few More Weeks for this

Predicting Weather Today

Might be a Weekend to Sit by the Fire
This one is at the North Bluff Castle in Guernsey State Park

Predicting weather is a tough job. It is also one of those jobs that seemingly everyone thinks they can do better than the pros. If they are correct we may be seeing closed roads in the area, just hope we do not get another day long power outage like we did two weeks ago. 

If We Get Only a Few Inches of Snow it will still be Great Hiking Weather

Didn't Some Wyoming Guy Write The Revenant?

Michael Punke might be the most famous writer who grew up in Wyoming that no one has ever heard of. That might be a bit harsh as many of us have read the book, The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge. Or if we didn’t read it many have enjoyed Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass, winning an Academy Award for his performance in, The Revenant.
Cold  Mountain Stream - The kind early trappers searched for

   Michael grew up and graduated from high school, where his dad taught Biology, in Torrington Wyoming. He spent a few summers working at nearby Fort Laramie, which may have whetted his appetite for the old west and early Wyoming. But there is more to the story, much more. Michael is not your typical, set at the computer and pound out stories, writer.
Fourth of July at Fort Laramie

Michael Punke has a day job. He is the Deputy United States Representative and US Ambassador to the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. Not what most would expect for the writer of a world class mountain man tale. He is a lawyer getting his law degree from Cornell. Now for the part, I find to be almost as good a story as the one of Hugh Glass.

He is not allowed, by ethics rules to speak publically about the book. Nor can he attend events, do book signings or anything else that has to do with the book or movie. The reason? Is the result of him being a high ranking government official and not allowed to promote any outside work unrelated to his job. He can receive royalties for the book, however. It like most books was stuck with underwhelming sales when it was released in 2002, but I suspect it has surged now that the movie is out. 
Elk in the high country

A quick look at the book on Amazon seems to confirm that sales theory. It is ranked number 3 and 4 in westerns and in the top thousand overall. Considering Amazon has some 12,000,000 books for sale, top thousand is excellent. 

An Old Cowboy’s Philosophy of Life

An Old Cowboy’s Philosophy of Life

Reading from a famous Worming book of yesteryear I ran across a most interesting philosophy of life. A few snippets I took from the chapter.

·        Time is arbitrary, age is dependent, if and but, are not in my vocabulary and I know not their meaning.

·        Age? Anyone passing over the divide in Wyoming short of the century mark must go by accident or some ancestral ailment passed down through the ages from one of Noah’s sons.

·        Tomorrow is the best day on the calendar; yesterdays are history and irretrievable.

·        The term optimist has been applied to me and aptly, and I am this kind. If a pool of water twenty feet deep, with a rock weighting a ton resting on my chest, I would be thankful it didn’t weigh two tons.

His Book & Legacy

Good stuff and all from Charles A. Guernsey from his book, Wyoming Cowboy Days. Guernsey has a town, reservoir, and a state park named after him.

The book, published in 1936 is hard to find, although there is a more recent redo of it.  Good Stuff, maybe we should all live a bit more optimistic, like Mr. Guernsey.
Guernsey State Park