Newcomers, old-timers making Wyoming news


It’s been awhile since we wrote a little roundup of what is going on around the Cowboy State. Here goes:

• “Why are all these people dressed up like cowboys?” a tourist innocently asked Eric Olsen, who owns a western wear store in Lander. 

Not sure how Eric answered, but it might have had something to do with the fact that, yes, they really were cowboys.

I imagine tourists ask the same thing around Lou Taubert’s in Casper and various other “cowboy” stores in Wyoming.

We used to joke that the only people wearing cowboy hats all the time were auctioneers, authors and realtors. Most real cowboys wear baseball caps when they are working. And yet it seems to me that I see way more cowboys wearing cowboy hats all the time than I used to. Not sure if that is true and not sure why?

Nancy and I own a tiny little pasture and we were thinking of buying a few cows. Meat on the hoof, you see. Some good grass-fed beef would help the budget and be healthy, too. 

My old friend Ray Hunkins of Cheyenne probably knows as much about ranching as anyone I know, so I asked him how to get my tiny herd started.

He gave some advice but followed it up with the admonition, “and get yourself a BIG hat.” I think he was referring to the old expression “big hat, no cattle,” which was a demeaning remark coming from real cattle-raising people about pretenders, such as myself. Or perhaps for all those auctioneers, authors and realtors, too.

• Wyoming’s oldest person, Grace Carlson, 109, of Meeteetse, died in July this year.

And contrary to a column that I wrote back in February where it was reported that Leonard Ross, 107, of Jackson, was the oldest person. No, he was not. And sadly Leonard has died since that column was written.

Grace Carlson was married to her husband Edgar for 71 years. She lived in her current home in Meeteetse the last 57 years of her life. 

Wyoming’s oldest person now appears to be Lloyd Baker, 106, of Etna since Betty Schelliner, 105, of Douglas, also recently passed away.

Lloyd celebrated his 106th birthday by singing and dancing in his hometown. He appears to be enjoying his first year of retirement. Up to last year, he still went to work every day at his surveying company.

Baker credits his long life to an active lifestyle and his diet of sweet, salty snacks, which includes a bag of peanut M&Ms each day, according to a report on Townsquare Media’s King Radio. Can anyone out there help out if you know anyone in Wyoming older than Lloyd?

• Despite our heavy snows, cold weather and high winds, Wyoming people can feel pretty darned lucky when compared with what people in Houston, Florida and Puerto Rico have been going through.

Has America ever seen a trifecta of horrible weather hit during such a brief time? Hurricane Harvey hit in late August, Hurricane Irma in early September and Hurricane Marie in mid-September.

The devastation has been immense and it has been nice to see Wyoming people stepping up to help.

One weather-watcher said that if Wyoming received 50 inches of moisture like Houston did, and it came as snow, we would be buried under 60 feet of the white stuff. Wow.

It seemed to me that forgotten in all this weather news was the tragedy northwest of us. In Montana and other states thousands of acres of timber, grassland, homes and outbuildings burned. Our atmosphere was nearly as smoky as I can ever recall during much of August and September. Only worse time would have been the 1988 Yellowstone fires and during the Anchor Dam area fire a few decades ago. Oddly, we had a nice respite during the eclipse on Aug. 21, which was a break.

• One last eclipse note: I have always wondered why the sun and moon look like they are the same sized spheres to us on earth? 

The sun is 400 times larger and 400 times farther away and yet the two biggest objects in our sky are almost identical in size, when looked at by the human eye.

Scientists consider it just a fluky coincidence while true believers think it is a special sign from someone higher above. And thus, the eclipse becomes way more significant to these folks than just one object blocking out the other.

All I know is that I want to see another eclipse some time. It was one of the most memorable experiences that I can recall. 

And it was fun to share it with 1.5 million people watching it on Wyoming soil.

Check out additional columns at www.billsniffin.com. He has published six books. His coffee table book series has sold 30,000 copies. You can find them at www.wyomingwonders.com.

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