Wy Wyoming, you ask? Wy Not?!
by Julie Rosenberg Trent, Wyomingite by Choice
1. It’s beautiful here. Really, it is. In our part of WY, there are big hills (after living in UT I can’t call them mountains), valleys, trees, rivers, flowers, green fields, and orange rocks. The sky is big and mostly blue (I say “mostly” due to WY-Not #1). It’s like a scene from a great piece of art every time I look out the window.
2. It’s peaceful here. To be honest, there just aren’t that many people around to make it not peaceful, but we’re okay with that. There are no sounds of traffic at night. There aren’t a million stop-lights or a line of cars to inch behind in traffic. Actually, in our city, there are no traffic lights at all. There is no hustle and bustle of city life. No fast food (which is a blessing, and a curse).
3. People are very friendly/Community Spirit. We thought Houston gave us a good southern hospitable welcome (apart from our car getting broken into), but it pales in comparison to our neighbors here. The family from whom we are leasing our new home is incredibly kind and generous. However, I think the woman next door might be trying to kill me . . . with Type II diabetes. She keeps sending over cookies, cinnamon rolls, homemade jam, pot pies . . .and of course they are so delicious I must eat them. The man next door keeps lending us gardening tools and showing the kids neat things on the property, like baby owls. Our town has a population listed as 383 (plus us makes 391), so everyone knows each other, everyone knows where we live, and everyone keeps an eye on each other. Kids roam our little town freely and nobody calls the cop on them. The school knew we were coming, and the children got a warm welcome from the 10 other kids who would be their classmates.
4. We have space. After three years of law school and a year squeezing into Houston, we have a large home on several acres of beautiful land. We have lots of room to stretch our legs, and the kids (especially the boy) love to go exploring and playing all over the yard and down by the river. So far, no snakes, no leeches, no snapping turtles, and no wasp stings (knock on wood). Our house is close to 3700 sq feet with two mud rooms, two and a half bathrooms, two livings rooms, a big island kitchen, and four bedrooms (plus one more we made out of our second laundry room). Yes, that’s right, all you homemakers, we have TWO laundry rooms. They are well used (see WY-Not #7).
5. Things are genuine here. People are real here. Life is what it is, take it, or leave it. Many people here are farmers and ranchers. They experience the circle of life every day and understand and respect it. They eat the food they grow (see WY #7). They aren’t afraid to get their boots (or Crocs) dirty, and living high means your garage and barn are bigger than your actual house. Appearances aren’t meant to be “kept up”. You get what you get, and usually it’s a smile. Also, they mayor of our town drives the school bus to take the kids to community swimming lessons every morning. She gets my vote.
6. If you’re a conservative, you’re home. I don’t get weird looks for going to church on Sunday or for having a big family. And WY likes its guns and other freedoms, too. Like the freedom to keep chickens at the farm in the school’s back yard. And speaking of chickens . . . WY #7
7. Fresh food. There are so many chickens running around this town, I haven’t had to buy eggs since we lived in TX. Neighbors bring them to us, and whatever my daughter finds in her lamb’s pen at school are ours to keep. Tonight it was eight more. Did you know that cage-free/free-range chickens lay eggs with orange yolks? We eat golden pancakes now. Along with eggs, we have the option to buy half a beef (that means half a cow at the butcher’s). We bring them a cow and they butcher and wrap it for us. Then we stick it in the freezer and eat meat for two years. Seriously, that’s a lot of beef. We could also have half a hog. We could eat bacon for two years. We could also eat vegetables, if our garden pulls through. Most people have gardens here. Our neighbors have a well-established crop of asparagus, and they’ve been generous in their sharing. We also have an apple tree that we are rooting for. Goooooo Manzanas!
8. Nature. We’ve seen elk, deer, rabbits, wild turkeys, lambs, goats, chickens, owls, ducks and cows. Lots and lots of cows. There is also Devils Tower (the first National Monument) that’s about 15 miles away, and Mt. Rushmore (a little bit further). The Black Hills are nearby, also Cook Lake and there’s a ton of great camping around here, too.
9. Small Schools. I mean school. There is only one schoolhouse here. It has more than one room, so we’re one step up from Laura Ingalls Wilder. Hulett School is a K-12 school. All my school-aged kids will go to the same building at the same time. Makes life a little easier. Class sizes are 6-12 kids and most of the teachers are qualified to teach several subjects. What they lack in numbers they make up for in programs. My seventh-grader is already excited for her Ag classes next year, and my Freshman is looking forward to band. They have pretty much everything a bigger school would have, except try-outs. Kids are highly encouraged to participate in almost every activity (otherwise they wouldn’t have enough players to make a team).
10. Pianos. The owner of this house left TWO pianos here, and since mine broke last year, it’s been nice to tickle the (fake) ivories once again.
11. New things. If you know me, you know I love new experiences and places. I’ve already got to do lots of things I’ve never done before, such as
a. Catch a lamb to take on a walk.
b. Learn to use a propane tank, water softener, septic tank, well, and wood-burning stove.
c. Drive 45 minutes to go to Church with 40 other people.
d. See a real, live rodeo from the comfort of our wool blanket.
e. Wash fresh eggs.
f. Close the gate every night to keep the deer out of the yard.
g. Use a pitch fork. (Nailed it!)
h. Drive 1.5 hours to go to SAM’S Club. (not worth it)
i. Chase chickens, rescue baby birds, swim in a river (okay, my kids did those things).
j. Leave my car door unlocked (admittedly, it is in the garage, but it’s all baby steps for me).
k. Landline telephone use (not new to me, but for my kids. they are getting a kick out of it, but having more than one person on at a time confuses them)
l. drive by a national monument every Sunday on the way to church. “Oh, there you are again, Devils Tower, as formidable as always!”
12. Parades. Hulett knows how to do one! My kids left with buckets of candy, and I never once worried about losing them in a crowd.
13. Education. It’s important to people here. Wyoming has a law that says there can’t be more than 16 kids per teacher. I love that ratio. Also, most of the people I’ve met here have been to college. Just because someone lives in the middle of nowhere, doesn’t make them ignorant.
14. Husband. As much fun as it was to play “Single Mom” to six kids in TX, I really enjoy living in the same state where my husband works. Good times.
15. Opportunity. Our kids have the chance to do things they couldn’t do in a bigger school or a different place. We have the opportunity to live a healthier lifestyle and a less stressful existence. This is a great learning experience and family time for us.
1. Weather. We’ve been here one month and already we’ve had several hail storms and a tornado. The tornado actually missed our property by about two miles. Thunderstorms have been frequent, but awesome. Just glad I wasn’t caught out in any of them. The hail has been up to softball-size in some parts, and fixing the damage from them is a full-time business for the insurance guy. I’ve also been warned that the winter months can be . . . challenging. Check back with me in ten months.
2. Interwebz. Hey wireless internet, 1999 called. It wants its connection speed back.
3. Shopping. Though you can get almost everything you need here in Hulett, it can be quite pricey and the closest Wal-Mart is 50 miles away, and anything else is even further. Amazon Prime even gave us a delivery time of 10 days. Not cool, Amazon Prime.
4. Cell Phone coverage. Or lack of it. I lose my calls every time I drive too far away or go in my basement. Try the landline.
5. No family. Although we love all our new friends, we miss living close to family. There is no one nearby. Not for miles. 🙁
6. Ticks. So far, just the one crawling on my laptop in my room. Gross. One too many.
7. Mud and Poo. Because of the WYs #8, I’m dealing with more . . . uh . . . unpleasantries on the shoes. Now I know why people wear boots (and Crocs) all the time. Washable shoes are big here. Good thing we have two mudrooms. Also, it gets on shirts and pants, if you’re a kid. And if you’re a kid’s mom.
8. Dirty cars. We live off a dirt road, so I don’t see the point in EVER washing my car. As soon as we leave our house, the minivan is covered in orange dust.
9. Pianos. Now that we have two, someone at church thinks I should play for sacrament meeting. My mother warned me this day would come.
10. PO Box. If I want mail, I have to go get it. And, no post on Sunday or Saturday.
11. Hard water. Our well has the hardest water I’ve ever seen in my life. We have to run a glass of vinegar in every load of dishes, and that’s after the water softener has kicked in. Now that’s hard. It’s like the water is trying to do a magic trick and turn into limestone.
12. Crazy animal noises. Our first couple of weeks here, I couldn’t sleep with the window open. I’d like to say it’s quiet here all the time, but there is too much wildlife for that to be true. We live close to the Belle Fourche river and frogs are abundant, as well as some freakish animal that sounds like a screaming baby in the middle of the night. But, it’s okay now. Something bigger must have come along and eaten it. I can open the windows at night
13. Smells. See WY #8. Sometimes, the pungent aroma of the fauna overpowers the sweet smell of the flora.
Well, that’s it for me. WY don’t you come visit us sometime? There’s plenty of room for you in WYoming!