Fresh off the tails of a rejuvenating jaunt including deep breaths of crisp, mountain air and celebrating my dear friend’s nuptials, it's been hard adjusting back to the everyday routine. Instead of pining for the comfort of a blissful week, I'm sharing a few of the moments that made me fall in love with our 44th state all over again.
Drop down and get your elk on
Forget the lions, tigers and bears (OK - maybe not the bears, there are plenty of bears in Wyoming). Wyoming is full of ranches offering top quality cattle, but many friends and family members hunt to provide for their loved ones in the form of elk, bison and deer, depending on the season. On our first visit in 2014, we were treated to elk and bison. Three years later, my mouth was still watering with nostalgia in hopes of recreating this food memory. I was on cloud nine when the Steinhorst family spoiled us with the riches of the past hunting season in the form of a backyard cookout featuring elk burgers. Lean, flavorful and fresh - the last bite was bittersweet, but will keep my taste buds going until the next time.
Down on the farm
I imagined farm land would be rather easy to come by, as the drive from place to place is rather long with rolling fields and countryside on both sides of the road. However, Theresa from Shiloh Valley Family Farms let us know arable land is rather expensive and exclusive in Wyoming. Theresa grew up in a family of farmers, so she's well versed in the laborious lifestyle. She's continuing on the tradition with her husband and children on their farm in Sheridan. More than 1500 miles from my home, Theresa is receiving the same consumer feedback and questions our clients have in the Triangle area. The hot topics of pasture raised meat, grain vs. grass fed, organic vs. conventional and, not to be forgotten, GMO vs. non GMO grain. The world got a little smaller when we were able to relate over the desire of the market for certain products, but realizing there is a cost that comes with the demand, whether it be economic, environmental, or both.
This is the most underrated characteristic of everyone I ran into, regardless of if they were friends, friends of friends or a complete stranger. Despite having only visited once before, I felt at ease walking downtown with all the smiles, tips of cowboy hats and friendly hello's. There's something to be said for the simplicity of the great outdoors and humble small town vibe. The pace of life is a bit slower so as to be intentional and savor each moment. Work is important, but equally so are the interactions and relationships you have with family and friends. If you haven't had a chance to make it out west to see what Midwestern charm is all about, you're missing out. Special thanks to the Kirven family for sharing their slice of heaven with this East Coast girl.