Friday, May 29

how i ended up in casper, wyo.

in may 2006 i graduated from iowa state university with a degree in ag journalism and no firm leads on a job. my sister melissa was in casper, wyoming that summer with an internship for the natural resources conservation service (nrcs) and she happened to meet the dennis sun, the publisher of the wyoming livestock roundup, a weekly ag paper serving ranchers in wyoming and the surrounding states. his assistant editor had met a boy and was taking off for california come august, so melissa passed the job lead on to me, i called up the roundup office and talked with them a couple times and next thing i knew i was packed up and driving across nebraska in a family caravan (we hemkens like to do that) with all my stuff and a gray kitten with a smudged nose i'd plucked from under my parents' grainery on the way off the farm.

i moved out here with few enough pieces of furniture to fit in my mom's catering cargo van pulling my parents' airstream camper. we combined the moving trip with a horse camping trip in the laramie mountains south of casper, so we also had three horses in the livestock trailer. i had lined up a place to keep my bay mare april, so she stayed on with me when everyone else went back to iowa.

i didn't know i had an apartment for sure until i was passing through the sand hills of nebraska. when i first found out i had the job i had to mapquest casper, because i had no idea where it was. talk about an adventure.

i began work at the roundup aug. 14, in the midst of state fair week here in wyoming. slowly but surely i began to get to know the job and the people, and now three years later i'm quite comfortable in my job and i'm even quite fond of casper and its people.

while i moved out here with only a diesel mercedes car, i now have my '97 ford f250 4x4 extended cab and a two-horse trailer on which i put a new coat of pretty red paint during christmas trip 2008.

i still live in the same apartment, but you already know about the ongoing house hunt. i dunno, i was suddenly inspired to buy my own place, and now that the process has started it's moving right along.

for two years out here i didn't really make any friends, or make an effort to establish myself, in wyoming because i had always planned to move back to iowa to be with ex-boy, which is a long, complicated tale, perhaps never to be posted. beginning about this time last year i got two new summer roommates, interns for nrcs, amanda and emily, who are both excellent, and so began my transition from 'temporary in wyoming' to 'looking for a house in wyoming.' gosh. the past year has been full of a lot of changes.

emily and i spent almost every evening last summer riding my horses out at the galles stables pastures. (when i was home last may i brought sorrel mare jazz back to wyoming with me. she was evicted from the iowa farm after chasing too many calves.) as the weeks went past emily became more and more comfortable riding april - her horse for the summer - bareback, and pretty soon i didn't even have to say, 'just try it emily. you'll be fine.' :-) i'm pretty proud of this photo of her when we were out branding on a ranch. she turned into a mighty fine cowgirl!

amanda corrupted me into the habit of going out on the weekends, which i've now taken to include weeknights. happy hour is wonderful. you pay for one beer or whiskey and they bring two. what a concept.

but mostly i can trace my turning from temporary to permanent to one pivotal day - branding with the keith family out at dennis's pasture and then traveling to glenrock for deer creek days and meetings friends griff and dejoe. but that's all you need to know about that for now.

from there i've gotten to know many people in town, and i'm having fun and i'm happy here. when i think about moving on from wyoming to something new, i realize that if i left here i'd just miss it, a lot, and want to come back, so why leave?

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