August 2018 – We have been loving the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming this summer as we’ve roamed around the snow capped mountains and glassy lakes with our RV. Rising with the chickens in the early mornings, we’ve seen some fabulous sunrises.
Buddy loves to play in the early morning light and take long walks before the world wakes up.
Wyoming’s Big Horn Mountains have given us some incredible skies.
And while we haven’t done any signature hikes, we’ve enjoyed simply wandering through the woods and across the open meadows, watching the play of light and shadow through the trees and climbing on rock outcroppings here and there.
Sometimes there’s true beauty hiding in a rock crevice.
Sometimes we just find a place to sit in the woods and commune with the trees.
The Big Horn Mountains offer many expansive views.
In the last few weeks the views have been obscured by the smoke from wildfires burning as far away as California. This has made the air quite hazy, but the effects in our photos has been intriguing.
One day while Buddy and I were trudging up a long and winding dirt road with the meadows spreading wide on either side of us, a cowboy on horseback appeared on the crest of the hill coming towards us. Behind him the snow capped Big Horn Mountains reached across the horizon in all their glory. As he descended the rocky road we noticed he was leading a second horse behind him. It was a classic and memorable image.
But where was my camera? Arghh! I’d left it at home since I was “just going for a walk.”
On another day I came across a trio of women out enjoying a ride. This time I had my camera with me, and when a fourth woman appeared she proudly showed me her chaps which had been hand made for her years ago!
In Sheridan, Wyoming, we visited a big store full of cowboy gear called King’s Saddlery (locally known as “King Ropes”). This unusual store sells custom made saddles, a huge variety of ropes for roping cattle, and is home to a museum of western memorabilia as well.
Our friends Bill and Jonette who live in the area urged us to visit because it is such a unique place. What a great travel tip that was!
When we walked in, after passing by row after row of horse saddles, we came across two cowboys trying out some of the ropes. There were two dummy cows for testing the ropes. One featured a pair of horns to simulate a cow’s head. The other featured a pair of legs, for checking out how well the rope would do for snaring a cow by the legs.
I was amazed watching these two cowboys lassoing the dummies over and over as they tried different ropes.
These two men tested rope after rope throughout our entire visit — for at least an hour — and as we left the store they were headed out too, new ropes in hand.
As we made our way to the museum area, we passed the area where the custom leather work is done. A huge chest filled with lots of little drawers contained all the small metal fittings that go into a saddle, bridal and all the other gear necessary to ride a horse.
Then we came across a woman getting her cowboy hat custom sized to fit her head. The hat was steamed to make it pliable.
In the museum there were rooms of antique saddles that had been used and loved for many years. Each saddle was different, many of them very ornate, and each one was accompanied by detailed information about who owned it, who made it, where it was used and when.
There were also lots of antique posters announcing various rodeo events. I liked the one for the Sheridan Rodeo of 1932!
But the museum piece that was most evocative was a pair of envelopes sent from the Great Falls, Montana, artist, CM Russell, to the man who owned the first dude ranch in Wyoming, Howard Eaton.
Each envelope was hand painted and dated by CM Russell, and the address was simply given as Howard Eaton’s name, the town of Wolf where he lived, and the state of Wyoming. No street or zip code necessary.
Those envelopes spoke volumes about the pace of life in the early 1900s, the importance and value people placed on sending and receiving a letter in the mail, and the size of the town of Wolf in Wyoming.
Our friends took us to another special event at the Johnson County Fairgrounds in Buffalo, Wyoming, where kids and their sheep celebrated an important aspect of the history, culture and economy of the area: sheep farming and wool production.
A week prior, Mountain Meadow Wool, a local Buffalo Wyoming wool mill, had sent a special American flag made of wool to the Made In America Product Showcase in Washington, DC, to represent Wyoming’s homegrown products. The flag had returned from D.C. and was hanging proudly at one end of the field.
Last year we had been treated to a unique celebration of the Basque sheep herders who had settled this part of Wyoming in the early 1900s and had brought their shepherding skills with them from the Basque region of Spain.
The event we watched at the fairgrounds this summer was a presentation of lovingly raised sheep and their young caretakers who modeled all kinds of woolen clothing and dressed up their sheep to coordinate with their own outfits!
From a toddler in an elaborate wool vest to masked Zorro with his sword to a sheep wearing sunglasses, the costumes were adorable, and so were the kids and their sheep!
One little girl wore a lovely wedding dress made entirely of wool. Her sheep was her groom and he wore tails.
The older kids had made all their own clothes. Each outfit was really impressive and many were quite complex. One girl made a wonderful matching ensemble for her sheep and herself!
Northern Wyoming and the Big Horn Mountain region have been full of very fun surprises this summer.
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More info about this area:
- Wyoming Wool Goes to Washington!
- RV Campgrounds near Sheridan Wyoming and near Buffalo Wyoming
- Locations of King’s Saddlery in Sheridan and Johnson County Fairgrounds in Buffalo
Other blog posts from the Big Horns:
- Bighorn Canyon – A River Runs Through It in Montana!
- RVing Wyoming – Lakes, Mountains and Waterfalls
- Buffalo Wyoming – RVing Basque Style in the Bighorns!
- Buffalo Wyoming – Cowboys, Cowgirls and Sheriff Walt Longmire!
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