In the summer of ’74, I was 25 and living in an old Denver Trolly Car, parked up on Casper Mountain, where I was painting & staining Forest Service buildings with a buddy of mine. Come fall, Leroy and I get a wild hair and decide ti hitchhike out to Washington State to pick apples … We end up in Ellensburg, WA … picking apples. One rainy ‘off’ day, I head up to the town of Roslyn, and walk into the Brick Bar (think Northern Exposure) … there’s only two people in the bar, the bartender and a gal playing the jukebox with her back to me –Sweet Home Alabama is playing … she’s got on boots, a homemade quilt skirt, and a white blouse with long blonde hair … She’s a true Sweetheart of the Rodeo … but she’s shacked up with the bartender at the time, so I just become friends with them both. When the apple-picking ends, I head back to Wyoming and hire on to a ranch in the Hole-in-the-Wall Country. A couple of years later, I’m working on a ranch over on Bridger Creek when my folks send me notice that they’ll be in Laramie in late July and could I get down there? I get some time off — just as my truck breaks down, so I hitchhike to Laramie. I start out on the highway to Casper at Moneta and get a short ride to HI Land by a local rancher in an old pickup. My next ride is from two young couples from California, who have plenty of grass and a jug of tequila. By the time we get to Laramie, I’m in no shape to see my folks … so I go into the Buckhorn Bar. It’s late afternoon and I’m sitting at a table, sipping on whiskey, looking out the bullet-ridden window and watching people on the street and the Whole Earth Health Store across the street … yep, out the store comes Valerie, looking to cross the street. I’m out the door and calling her name before she gets halfway into the street… a while later that nite, she tells me she’s looking for a secluded place to get away from the ‘world of people’ for a while. I say, “give me a ride back up to Bridger Creek, and I’ll introduce you to an old cowboy who has such a place” …
We hook up pretty fast and spend an extended ‘honeymoon of sorts.’ After several years out on Bob’s ranch, mostly living in an old cowboy line shack, built back in the Old West, with no running water nor electricity, with our nearest neighbor several miles away over a ridge. When we left Bob’s outfit, we became a ‘ranch gypsy couple’ for many years, going from ranch to dude ranch to hunting camp to sheepherding, to living in a log cabin on the Wind River before going back to school in Laramie.
There was a spell in the winter and spring of ’82 when we split trails for about six months … Valerie goes to Casper, my bad-luck town … and I go up the Wind River Valley near Dubois and hire on to the Old Double Diamond on the East Fork – the ranch Gerry Spence bought at a Lock, Stock, and Barrel Auction, (listen to Gary McMahon’s song). Gerry renamed it the Thunderhead Ranch. His foreman was an old friend of mine, so I get the Lower Diamond place to live and run as my own. That summer, Valerie shows up knocking on my door … and was I glad to see her again. Over the years ,I’ve had half a mind that says if we had got married back in ’76, we’d be divorced today … Anyway, we finally got hitched in the Snowies on August 5th, 1989 with my Dad doing the outside service at St. Alban’s Chapel … Mike Hurwitz played at our reception near Centennial. It’s our 31st Anniversary today … thus this story down memory lane.
We spent our honeymoon driving around Wyoming looking for authentic Wyoming cowboy musicians and poets. Our paid vacation/honeymoon was on behalf of the Center of the West – then called the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody – who hired me to find and record as many Wyoming folks as possible before the school year started back up … the cowboy and cowgal artists we recruited got an invite to attend the Wyoming Centennial Celebration of the following year, the 1990 annual cowboy poet gathering, Range Songs and Ballads … Valerie and I were honorary guests, being able to spend the
weekend in the famous Paul Stock mansion (he started Texaco and was a prominent city father) behind the museum grounds.
I’ve never bought into the concept of Calvin’s theory of Predestination, but it’s a cinch bet there’s a whole lot of mystery and magic surrounding our lives. We’ve been up the creek and back together, barely getting there and barely getting by. Now we hope and pray that our fellow Americans open their eyes and ears and hearts so they can realize the truth that we are being led down the wrong path by the wrong man for the job as POTUS. Back in 1 Back in 1783, Benjamin Franklin walked out of Constitution Hall and remarked, “Here’s your republic, men, keep it if you can.” Come November, we’ll find out whether we can keep our democratic republic — or lose it. The election of 2020 couldn’t be a more crucial event to humankind … do we remain a republic governed by the rule of law, or do we become an authoritarian dictatorship based on racist bigotry, nepotism, and corruption — an oligarchy in the vein of Putin’s Russia, whereby we are ruled by a narcissistic liar, cheater, adulterer, and conman … an inept & incompetent idiot, who only cares about his own reputation, wealth, and power.
That’s my story … and I’m sticking with it.