By Ernie Over
I had the pleasure this week of hosting a friend from Seattle and touring him around the county this past week. It is amazing how he opened my eyes to things I’ve taken for granted for so long. Larry had visited here before, about a decade ago, so many of the sights, businesses, and so on were new to him. “Oh, look at that will you,” he would explain as we came upon something different from his memory.
Through Larry, I was able to look at the county in a new fresh light. When you live here, and things change, it’s gradual and after a while it’s normal. But when new eyes look around, I find myself rediscovering things.
In journalism, a writer such as myself reports on new things all the time, so the bloom fades from the rose a little more quickly, I think. I remember telling myself to look around when traveling with “new eyes.” If I was visiting here for the first time, what would I notice or put my attention on?
Larry has helped me look again at our community with those new eyes. So, what did I see?
Interestingly, he noted the big piles of sugar beets at the Wyoming Sugar Company receiving stations, so that began a conversation on how many beet growers we have here and how many acres are planted. For the record, there are a dozen local growers who have planted 1,700 acres of the crops. The sugar content this year was just over 18 percent, while 19 percent and a few points is the annual average. It’s a big crop in the county, second to alfalfa production.
Naturally he saw lots of cattle being moved from summer pastures to their wintering ground, and a few pastures with sheep and a couple with goats. Most of the cattle here are now Black Angus breed, but I am seeing a few more Herefords these days. Herefords (the brown and white ones) used to make up most herds, but over time the Angus have replaced them as the favored breed.
CWC opened up his eyes too. Last time he was here the college didn’t have the JoAnne Youtz McFarland Health and Science Center, nor the Intertribal Community and Education Center. So, I updated him on those facilities and the programs housed there. And, of course, showed him the new Rustler Ag and Equine Center, which is nearing completion on the north side of the Riverton Campus. He also hadn’t seen the new Lander Center. It had been downtown on his last visit. Which then allowed me to show him the Wyoming Catholic College facilities and, of course, CWC’s Alpine Science Center in Sinks Canyon.
We drove down Riverview Road and Highway 133 to Pavillion and across the back county roads over to Midvale. I noticed on that drive that there are some new center-pivot irrigation systems now being installed or ones that have been up only a year or so.
He remembered some of the businesses from his last visit, and noticed that Safeway isn’t in Riverton anymore, but the store in Lander had moved and was much larger. And that Murdochs had replaced Safeway in Riverton and Sutherlands took over the former K-mart store. His favorite mammal is a rhinoceros, so a stop at Kifaru in Riverton was a must. The rhino is their logo.
He was thrilled at the gasoline prices here, as they are much higher on the West Coast. He was also surprised at the cost of restaurant meals here, which are much lower here than there. “You’re lucky here,” he said. It was good to hear from someone outside the area that he thought we had it good here as we’ve struggled with low employment and higher prices.
On your next trip around the county, look with new eyes and see what you might have missed.
Ernie Over is an employee owner and the news director of the five-station WyoTodayMedia Radio Network in Fremont and Hot Springs counties, the editor of the award winning Wyotoday.com Internet news site, and a staff member of The Ranger, Lander Journal and Wind River News.