Tag Archives: Wyoming

A New Year, A New Look, A New Website

We all reinvent ourselves from time to time. In my case, this usually involves hair color and heavy eyeliner. In the case of the Padlock Ranch, all it took was a fab new website to make what was really good look utterly amazing.

That’s right…the other day I clicked on over to see what was going on at the edge of the Bighorns, and wasn’t I just plain dazzled to see all new photos, an easy-to-navigate new layout, and all-in-all, a fresh new look that befits the place that captured my heart not so many months ago. I can promise you it is only a matter of finding the right time and I’m going back.

I urge you to find the right time, too.

Whether discovering it for the very first time or discovering it anew, the Padlock is where we can all find a little bit of peace and purpose in 2012.

Maybe I’ll see you there.


Trip to the Padlock Ranch in Wyoming Featured in November Issue of TRAILBLAZER MAGAZINE

Check out the November issue of TrailBlazer Magazine–now available where magazines are sold (subscriptions available online at www.trailblazermagazine.us). I documented our August trip to the Padlock Ranch in Wyoming in a feature article–just turn to page 22!

Pick up a copy of the November issue of TrailBlazer Magazine and turn to page 22! Makes me miss Wyoming...

The REAL Visit to the Mint Bar and Drive-Thru Liquor Stores…Really? Yes, Really.

The notorious stuffed wolf at the Mint Bar--yep, I saw it; it exists.

For all those who read my early “pre-trip” post about the iconic Mint Bar in Sheridan, Wyoming, I thought I best create a permanent (translate: online) record of my actual visit. Yes, I did go…while they are closed on Sunday nights, they are open at 10 a.m. on Monday morning. While I didn’t DO a shot, I did GET a shot…of the notorious stuffed wolf that stands nobly above the main bar on a shelf reserved for taxidermy of various origins. I also got t-shirts, and was super-pleased to meet the owner (yes, there and working at 10 a.m. on Monday morning).

Booze takeout? In Sheridan, sure....

It wasn’t just the Mint Bar that fascinated us in the realm of the alcoholic in Sheridan…we were amused to no end by the idea that a) they had liquor “takeout” that you could order and stick under your arm before you shoved back your barstool and stumbled for the door; and b) they had liquor DRIVE-THRUS….yes, I know, Wyoming isn’t the only state to host this phenomenon, but that makes it no less amazing in my eyes. A good idea to let people drive up to a window and order a handle of Jack with the motor running? As a former bartender, it seems a dubious proposition at best….

The drive-thru liquor store down the street from our Sheridan hotel. Yes, I agree, the construction is suspect.

But that detracts not from its charm, from an Eastern girl’s perspective…

My Son, the Buckaroo

My week in Wyoming at the Padlock Ranch was the longest stretch of days I’ve been away from my son, Augustin, who is two-and-a-half (or a little older) now. Cell phones didn’t work and I convinced myself the “emergency” house phone was for that only…so no morning catch-ups or “night night Mommies” or “I’ll be back soons.”

These days, when one is uber-connected to everybody, everywhere, all the time, this can be a difficult thing. At first I felt like something was missing, like I’d forgotten my hat or my glasses. But gradually I grew accustomed to just thinking about “back home” and all those who awaited our return, and a moment of silence became the equivalent of telephone pleasantries. I like to think this system of communication, however intangible and unquantifiable, worked just fine.

As is evident by this blog, we DID have internet–wireless access was fantastic throughout the Padlock guest lodge. So my son got to see pictures of me, and hear all about my adventures “riding horsies,” via the words I recorded each evening. After our first day he renamed his rocking horse Copper (as she was formerly called “Margaret” for reasons unclear to me, I tend to think this is an improvement). And then, after seeing a few more photos posted here, he grabbed his grandmother’s sunhat–and she captured the moment on camera.

I give you my son, the Buckaroo.

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Last Day, Final Ride, Flight Home

To our surprise, we had time to go for one final ride before we caught our (very small) plane out on Saturday. It seemed appropriate to “wind down” and bid a final adieu to one of the views that had, frankly, become almost commonplace over the course of the week. We saddled up and climbed up through the horse pasture behind the guest lodge, and after a brisk canter brought us to the top of one of the Wolf Mountains (really, hills), we looked away toward the Bighorns, Sheridan, Dayton, and Ranchester.

It seems natural that on a last ride on a last day of a memorable and wonderful week one would spend time considering how best to revisit the adventure again in the future…it seems natural that one would go over and over the highest of the (many) high points and laugh again at the goofiest moments–smile at the touching or tender ones.

We did all that, I’m sure.

I write this now, just outside Boston, on a muggy night with the window open before my computer. I can see the chain link fence across the way glinting in the street light. I can hear the cars going by on McGrath Highway. It was only yesterday that I rode TJ  up a Wyoming hillside next to Martha and Steve…but it already feels like years ago.

I miss it.

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What’s a Beechcraft Have to Do with Horses?

Tomorrow we leave at 8 am for Sheridan, which means we are at Boston-Logan at 6:15. For those who know me, they understand that the sleep I manage tonight is due to the exhaustion amounted in the days prior…as much as I love to travel, I HATE to fly.

People are often puzzled by my fear. I am not neurotic (or at least, no one has told me I am). I am fairly daring by nature, even foolish on occasion. I ride ski lifts without pause. I balk not at the flimsy fair rides that visit the local village of Tunbridge, Vermont, every year. I ride horses, for goodness sake.

But flying, oh flying. I count babies and holy men and take a pill and hope for sleep. And that’s on a BIG plane.

Tomorrow we are flying on a Beechcraft from Denver to Sheridan. These planes have propellers. Well, I know most planes have propellers, but these have propellers I can hear and see.

This post will either save me or doom me.

Tomorrow evening, we shall see.

Til the Mint Bar, I hope….I’m thinking of vast ranges and distant horizons….and getting on a horse, from the ground.

The Mint Bar–Whiskey, Please

The Mint Bar in Sheridan, Wyoming, has been the locals' watering hole of choice since 1907.

So, I’ve discovered that there is what we on the East Coast might call a “dive bar,” but what in Wyoming you call a “cowboy bar,” and it is right in Sheridan and perhaps even within walking distance of the hotel we’ll stay in on Sunday night, prior to making our way out to the Padlock Ranch some 20 miles or so away.

Imagine looking up and seeing this guy after a couple of drinks...

Nice barkitty....

They say the Mint Bar (I keep thinking of ice cream, don’t you?) has been around since 1907, catering to the gunsmiths, trail guides, and saddle makers who called the town home, and that it even hosted a speakeasy “in the back” during Prohibition (back then I guess it was called the Mint Saloon). Now, of course, it does a fine business of lining up the tourists–according to TripAdvisor, I should make it a destination because of a stuffed wolf from the turn of the century that is apparently larger and more impressive than any wolf one might come across today (does one come across wolves regularly in Wyoming??) However, when I visited the website, I was far more taken with the friendly badger and bobcat affectionately named “Barkitty.”

My husband and I have made it a habit to visit local watering holes wherever we might find ourselves–two of our very favorite happen to be Los Ojos in Jemez Springs, New Mexico, and the Mineshaft in Madrid (we have family in Albuquerque). Generally they do feature taxidermy, a pool table, and excellent local flavor–as a former bartender, I find them a great way to get a sense of a new place, its people, its politics, its music, and of course, its drink of choice.

At the Mint, I assume it will be whiskey.

Now, the question is, will Martha let me drag her there??

Why Is It You Have to Work HARDER to Not Work At All?

We're working hard in anticipation of not working...although, "working cattle" might qualify as STILL working?

Preparation for time away from work kills me. It always means long days, long nights, and endless hours “sweating the small stuff” as I go over and over what has to get done, what should get done, and what I’d like to get done in the waning moments prior to leaving my desk.

In this case my “trip of a lifetime” lands splat in the middle of that uber-busy time of a book-publisher’s year when we’re planning for the next season (spring) and putting the new catalog to bed, along with the books going to the printer (three) and the covers to be designed (six).

So, as I climb Mt. Work, one foot doggedly placed in front of the other, all the while imagining sunsets from horseback and vast plains I’ve never laid eyes on before, I can’t help but ask myself, IS IT WORTH IT? Does it EVER make sense to go on vacation when it always inspires a mad struggle for the vaguest semblance of professional control prior to making a break for it?

And now, the kicker is, the FEAR has begun to set it. That is, our casual laughing, joshing, and joking about sore muscles and sunburns has suddenly acquired a rather dark side. And then Sean Patrick, former pack guide and author of THE MODERN HORSEMAN’S COUNTDOWN TO BROKE, made a comment something along the lines of, “Bring plenty of cornstarch and Advil.”

Now what the devil do we need cornstarch for???