Westward Ho

Location: Lander, Wyoming, United States

I'm just a western boy living the good life and enjoying every minute of it.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Winter is Almost Here!

I know. You're thinking, "What kind of crack is he smoking?" It is only September 24th. So how can winter be almost here? I know that winter is just around the corner because I have been snowed on twice in the past two weeks. Not necessarily that heavy snow where it looks like you live in a snow globe. But those hard snow pellets that bounce off your noggin. Even so, the heavy stuff will be hitting soon. Last year, the week before Halloween, we got 16 inches of snow in Lander. That is only one month away. Predictions are calling for a heavy winter with lots of snow this year. This all of course is getting me excited for winter activities that abound in Wyoming. First and most importantly, the downhill ski season will be here within two months. Most resorts open on Thanksgiving weekend, and with plentiful good snow, possibly mid-November. The outdoor ice rink usually opens around mid-December. A few of us from work get together once or twice a week during lunch to play hockey. There is also a great sledding hill in the canyon outside of Lander. I guess even though I'm approaching that big 3-0, I still have the little kid inside, wanting to hit that big ass jump at the bottom of the sledding hill. I am thinking about taking up cross country skiing this year as well. Some of the best cross country skiing in the state exists around Lander. Therefore, I should be taking advantage of this, shouldn't I? For those of us who like winter, there is almost as much to do during this season than there is during summer. This is why I get excited this time of year, when signs of heavy snows and cold weather start to creep in. But the biggest reason I know that winter is on its way...the Christmas decorations are already out at Walmart.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Hockey on Thin Ice

Those of you who know me well know that I am an avid hockey fan. Those of you who have been paying attention to the sporting news know that this year's NHL hockey season is in jeopardy due to salary squabbles. It is therefore safe to assume that I am not a happy camper. I have no pity for grown men making millions of dollars playing a game they supposedly love and then griping that they don't get paid enough. About ten years ago, this same situation happened in baseball. Prior to the strike of 1994, I was a huge baseball fan. Baseball now ranks behind hockey and football as a sport I enjoy following, due in large part to that strike. Hockey will likely remain my favorite sport, mainly because I enjoy every aspect of the actual sport, but I will lose respect for the players. Like hockey players, I have a job that I love. However, I am thoroughly convinced that the enjoyment of a job is worth much more than the salary amount, especially if the salary allows you to live at even a somewhat comfortable level. And I'm not making millions! NHL players: pull your hockey sticks out of your asses and realize how good you have it before you destroy the sport and thus your careers. If you don't, I guess there's always an opening at McDonalds.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Lions and Bears and Snakes, Oh My

I apologize to those of you who have been checking back frequently to read the next exciting installment of my blog. Travel for work and pleasure has significantly decreased my computer time. But anticipation is half of the fun, right?

In my last entry I outlined some of the joys of living in Wyoming. Along with the lack of people and wide open spaces comes an abundance of wildlife, most of it awesome to look at, but some very dangerous as well. A few weeks ago, my girlfriend and I were on one of our weekend trips when we decided to take in a little history. We stopped to see Independence Rock in central Wyoming, where settlers back in the mid-1800's carved their names into the rock. Pretty neat piece of history really. After walking up the trail and scrambling around the rocks and boulders, we decided we should continue on to our destination, Alcova Lake. We proceeded through a gate and stepped back on the trail to take us back to my car. I had Gunner (my girlfriend's dog) on a leash about 5 feet in front of me. Suddenly, we heard a sharp rattling sound and instantly fixed our eyes on a 2.5-3 foot rattlesnake on the trail within 5 or so feet of Gunner. The rattlesnake was coiled, head cocked, ready to strike. Needless to say, the adrenaline kicked in and we immediately retreated back behind the gate. After a minute or two of being pissed off and rattling, the snake moved off into the grass. Thankfully, it let us know it was there before we got too close.

Yesterday, I went on a mountain bike ride by myself at a place called "Johnny Behind the Rocks". Don't ask what Johnny was doing behind the rocks. I don't think I want to know. Anyway, it's a neat red rock canyon about 15 miles from Lander with good views of the Wind River Mountains. Beautiful for mountain biking. A couple miles in on the trail, I realized it's also excellent habitat for mountain lions, which are plentiful in the Lander area. Then I remembered my coworker telling me how he was being watched by a mountain lion a few years earlier while biking on the same trail. This made me quite aware of how dangerous recreation can be in Wyoming. Thankfully, I made in back to my Jeep with only encountering 3 chocolate labs and their owner. I did manage to scrape up my leg after getting cocky while riding down one of the rocky slopes. I guess I'm not as good of a rock jumper as I thought I was.

This week, I and my boss will travel to an area that poses the greatest wildlife risk, grizzly bear country. There have been a number of grizzly encounters in this particular area in the past few weeks, so we will be extra cautious, carrying two cans of bear spray. I have to admit, I would love to see a grizzly bear in the wild, but I would rather it be from the safety of our large truck.

Abundant wildlife is one of the many reasons I love living in Wyoming. It certainly makes one appreciate sharing the land with these critters, dangerous or not. I've certainly learned one thing. The rattle of a rattlesnake will send shivers up your spine, and that sound will forever be engrained in your memory.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Blog? Is that some sort of disease?

Hi everyone. Well, this is my first foray into blogging. I got the idea from my stepbrother, who writes some really interesting stuff on his. I can't promise that mine will be all that interesting, but I hope to at least keep people informed on the "Life of Chad". I don't really consider myself a writer, but this isn't exactly the New York Times. And what better way to inform the world of the exciting life I lead? Well, as exciting as a small, Wyoming town will allow anyway. Exciting around here usually consists of gambling on when the first snow will hit or seeing someone you know down at the Lander Bar. But to be honest, that's exactly how I want it. You could say that life slows down in Lander. There's really not much to worry about here. A traffic jam consists of about two blocks worth of cars. Going to the big city means driving a half hour to the Super Walmart in Riverton. Directions are given using the Lander Bar as a reference point. However, interesting stories can develop from just about anything. Hopefully, I'll be able to bring some enjoyment to you readers from the perspective of a newly annointed "small-town boy". For now, it's Friday afternoon, and I think I'll go have a beer at the Lander Bar. Maybe I'll see someone I know.