For those of you who have never heard of Pinedale, Wyoming, a bit of Historical Fiction

First Annual Steer Roping

“After many years of misery thru the Depression and World War II, postwar posterity is starting to get underway with companies now able to supply cars, TVs, and other goods demanded by consumers. Cars and televisions are getting bigger. China has MaoTseTung and Russia has the Bomb. The Cold War has begun. . .”

Everett turned down the radio, reducing the static as he put out his roll-your-own cigarette in the turned up cuff of his indigo jeans. He and Clark had just pulled in from Oklahoma to MaBridgers Boarding House to inquire about a room for a few days. Three days crammed in the car with his roping buddy and all their gear while pulling two horses had been quite the trip. The horses were already turned out up at the rodeo grounds, stretching their legs, bucking a bit to ease their cramped backs, heads already deep in the green grass. Even in August, the mountains of Pinedale were a cool respite from the summer heat of Oklahoma and the road.

MaBridger finally ambled downstairs to answer Everett’s ring, flustered and fussing over the unaccustomed commotion in town. Located on Highway 191 running between Rock Springs 100 miles to the south and Jackson Hole 80 miles to the north, her Boarding House didn’t miss much of the action. But, when a little berg balloons from 700 citizens one day to over 3000 the next, it’s darn sure claustrophobic. There were people everywhere, from all over the state and then some, all in town to watch world class cowboys compete for the $12,000 pay out. The First Annual Steer Roping dreamed up by Joe Johnson at the Stockman’s Club Bar and Ross Meeks in Big Piney looked like it would really pay off.

MaBridger thought a moment before she offered the two dusty cowboys her last room. Rooms usually went for $2 a night, but who knew how long it would be before she saw a crowd in town like this again. Besides, those rodeo cowboys ate more than city folks ever could. “That’ll be $4 with your breakfast tomorrow at seven and your supper tonight at six” MaBridger demanded, not looking Everett in the eye.

Everett winced as he dug his money roll out of his front jean pocket. Seems like these small towns swung one way or the other – prices low or way too high. They would only need one night as long as the two of them didn’t get hung up too long at the Stockman’s Club Bar after the rodeo on Sunday. His entry fees were safely stashed in his saddle roll; it had taken him most of the summer to squirrel away the $1000 needed to enter this steer roping. Sure, he had won the World Championship Steer Roping last year, but it just didn’t seem like that $2800 prize money ever lasted long after you paid your living expenses, kept your car running, and doctored and fed all the horses. Everett had thought long and hard about buying a brand new pickup truck for $1400 to haul himself and his horses all around the country chasing rodeos. Whereas those pickups were great for working on the ranch, they just weren’t as comfortable as a car to spend long days on the highways crossing the country. After filling up with 17cents a gallon gas and buying hay to last the horses a week, his old car would have to do. As long as he made sure he and Clark didn’t miss that six o’clock supper tonight, they would get their moneys worth.

Everett and Clark dropped their gear bags in the small upstairs room, dusting off their cowboy hats best they could before hanging them on the hooks by the door. After a quick once over in the washroom down the hall, both guys put their hats back on and were ready to walk into town.

Clark, fresh to the rodeo circuit outside of Oklahoma, couldn’t believe all the people roaming around this tiny Wyoming town. He took Everett’s lead as the two walked downtown to Stockman’s Club Bar to sign up and pay their fees. Pushing their way through the swinging double doors, Everett peered through the smoky haze and recognized other steer ropers in the crowd. King Merritt from Federal, Wyoming had already dropped off his load of fresh Mexican steers up at the rodeo grounds and was seated at the poker table in the dark corner with Ike Rude from Dodge City, Kansas, Shoate Webster from Noweta, Oklahoma, and John Scott of Miles City, Montana. Money would be won and lost in more places than the rodeo grounds this weekend. Everett put coins on the bar for his VO/7 and Clark’s root beer as the two faded back to the walls to watch the crowd.

For this moment, on this day August 21, 1949, Pinedale, Wyoming was the center of the Rodeo World. One thousand dollar entry fees with twelve thousand dollar pay out was more money than these road hardened cowboys had seen in a long time. Everett’s check at the World Championships last year had been a fraction of that amount. Clark was new to the rodeo trail, but he was in good company traveling with the pros.

After the dust cleared 5pm Sunday afternoon, Everett and Clark loaded their horses and car to start the long road back to Oklahoma. The First Annual Steer Roping results were posted in the Stockman’s Club Bar downtown for all to see.

FIRST: Everett Shaw $6000.00
SECOND: Shoate Webster $3600.00
THIRD: John Scott $2400.00

Clark McEntyre didn’t get a check that day in Pinedale, but he would be fifth in the World Championship standings that year as well as the youngest steer roper on the road. He would go on to win this event in 1953, 1954, and 1957, but meanwhile Clark had a lot of steers to rope and miles to travel before he would meet and marry Reba McEntyre’s mother.

Pinedale, Wyoming would be forever marked on the road maps of all steer ropers for the next twelve years.

On the road with Bob

Just to set the scene, I’m writing this blog entry on a flattened empty Burger King bag using a Wheat Thins box as my desk. I’m crammed in the back of a Chevy dually between two car seats occupied by my two grandchildren. My purse and the Wheat Thins box are on my lap because there’s no room to put them at my feet. My husband, Bob, and son, Travis, and my two grandchildren have just carbed up at BK and Subway bringing all their food back to the truck to eat. We left our Arizona Casita this morning at 10am for a day long hike and swim at Fossil Creek outside of Camp Verde and Strawberry, Arizona. On our way out of town we hit one grocery store, two garage sales, a gas station, and now fast food. The Chevy console clock reads 11am. The GPS map reads one and a half hours to go on our two hour trip. My cranky button starts itching, but I remind myself of who I’m traveling with. My husband and son are never in a hurry, never early, and always happy to be there. Through almost forty years of marriage, I have developed personal flexibility. Not to be confused with bedroom flexibility, this is personal agenda flexibility. I have learned through rugged trial and error that what you plan to do, what you set out to do, and what you end up doing may not be all the same thing. But the key to tranquility is to recognize it all as the adventure along the way. SO, back to that afore mentioned adventure to be. We turn off Interstate 17 onto a Primitive Road outside of Camp Verde. Operative word here: Primitive. As in “No AAA out here”. One mile into the Coconino National Forest, we come alongside an old beat up red Subaru on it’s way out. Guy is stopped, waving his cigarette clutched hand out his driver window. As we slow down alongside, he blurts out “Wanna’ see the biggest snake ever? I just ran over the biggest damn snake ever about a quarter mile back! Go see it! I threw it off the road by three mesquite trees and a white rock!”. His hands shook as he put his cigarette in his mouth, grabbed his steering wheel, and bolted forward. Curious for sure, all five of us surveyed the hillsides on either side of us as we drove further into the National Forest. My first impression was that ALL the trees were mesquite and ALL the rocks were white, but I kept that to myself so as to not dampen the enthusiasm that had gripped everyone else. Creeping along, five sets of eyes on every mesquite tree by a white rock, we drove up alongside another pickup parked and loading something in the back cab. They had found the snake, and yes, he was a monster. The snake still twitching but very much dead, we all posed for cellphone shots. As we all loaded back into our truck, our new snake friends assured us we were headed in the right direction to Fossil Creek. We wouldn’t be able to miss the parking lot or trailhead markers to the upper Falls. …..The road was rough. The parking lot was crowded. The one mile hike into the Falls was too long for our six year old, but the swimming at the end of the trail under the waterfall was amazing. Driving home in the dark, all of us tired from so much wholesome fresh air, I thought about all the extra side adventures we had once we let ourselves slow down and see the sites along the way.

Riding Broncs in Arizona

Riding Broncs in Arizona

Lowering myself onto the bright blue pontoon, my legs straddled over the cold, wet rubber. There really wasn’t anywhere for my feet to go below me since the five pontoons were strapped so snugly together. So, I left my feet awkwardly in front of me resting on ropes around the nose of the pontoon. Not wanting to miss whatever the river had to offer us, my husband Bob, my friend Cheryl, and I had all crawled up to the front sitting positions on the J Rig Pontoon boat. This is what we had paid for, heard about back in Wyoming, and fretted about over the last year. Coming to Arizona to ride major rapids on the Colorado River is talked about throughout the country. After all the hype, we wanted to see if the water would live up to its world class reputation.
I fumbled for my rubber gloves stashed in my life jacket. There wasn’t any hurry as we were gliding down the river on our first day of a seven day float trip. The sky was blue, the sun was warm on our backs, and the water was crystal clear and smooth. The forty horsepower outboard motor was enough to move our thirty foot J Rig through the water without disturbing our scenic experience. The quiet of the river was misleading, however. Between the rocking of the boat and the soft rippling of the water moving past us, it was tempting to close my eyes and let my mind drift along too. But there was too much to see; red sandstone, schist, and shale towered above us on both sides. I stretched my neck and twisted my torso back and forth, turning every which way so as not to miss a thing. I had a camera on a cord around my neck and stuffed into my life vest, but I’ve always been afraid of missing the best sights when looking through a viewfinder. Listening to the other eighteen people onboard, we were all busy commenting on the wonders to be seen river level in the Grand Canyon.
My feet dangled above the water as we moved along, occasionally dipping into the cold water. Our two young guides had already talked about how much colder the water would be than we expected, due to the water being released into the river from underneath the upper dam. Releasing the deepest water against the large dam into the river keeps silt from settling in the reservoirs above the dam. Those two boys probably hadn’t had the chilling experience of swimming in glacier fed lakes in Wyoming. . . Living just one hour from Green River Lake, the source of the mighty Colorado River, we were no strangers to frigid liquid water. My water Keens with no socks let the cold water splash across my feet and through my shoes. The water was cold, but the perfect temperature to keep my feet awake and forestall my nodding off.
Our first morning had been filled with loading the rig, packing all our dry bags, tents, and cots, and settling into our future week routine. We patiently listened to safety instructions on how to maneuver on and off the boat, in and out of the water, and around our evening camps.
Excited to finally be on the famed Colorado River and part of the infamous river runner experience, I pulled out my neoprene gloves as we approached our first rapid of the day. House Rock Rapid, rated 4-7 out of a possible 10, was formed when pre-dam floods brought boulders down Rider Canyon into the Colorado River. Rocks and boulders accumulated at the juncture of the two rivers causing the rough, rolling rapids. Bob kiddingly offered rope gripping lessons to his fellow nine pontoon riders. We laughed and half listened to his spiel on broncriders rigging up to ride bucking horses on the rodeo circuit. “Slide your gloved hand under your rigging, fold your fingers over and lock them closed with your thumb. Bring your elbow back and lock your arm into your side. Crank down your hat below your ears, slap your cheeks, and yell “LET ER RIP!””
I laughed as I pulled the stubborn neoprene over my wet hands. Focusing ahead on the upcoming rapid, all thoughts of sites and views on either side of us were forgotten. I tentatively grasped a front rope with my left hand while my right hand fumbled for another rope behind my back. As we got closer and I saw the river actually drop out of sight going into a ten foot drop, I heard the guides yell “Hold on!”
Riding into the rapid, we front riders bent forward with our faces touching the rubber pontoon to allow most of the waves force to go over our backs. A wall of water came at us like liquid bricks from below and between the pontoons we were riding. I was instantly thrown to the right, slipping along the wet rubber. My eyes clenched shut, I never saw Cheryl jettison off the front of the boat. In the seconds it took to reopen my eyes, the wave was done with us, but I was dangling off to the right with both my hands still in a death grip on the ropes. I could see Cheryl was gone as Bob looked back at the guides to signal Cheryl’s inopportune departure. But, the hand signal across his throat to signal a man overboard would involve letting go of the ropes. . . .
The two guides were already in lifesaving mode as they positioned the rig to pick up their first swimmer. Cheryl, on her part, had come up for air only to be pounded by a new wave. Diving under the turbulent water, she tried to head for calmer water on the outside edges of the rapid. Moving clumsily in her waterlogged clothes, shoes, and life vest, Cheryl didn’t mind the surprise sensation of being literally lifted from the water as the rig came alongside. The guides each grabbed a shoulder strap of her vest and brought her out of the water and standing amongst us once again. Sputtering, eyes wide, lips blue, hair plastered to her head, we all cheered and high fived her welcome back.
Once Cheryl was situated wrapped in a blanket and securely seated next to her husband on the boats center, we once again faced the J Rig southwest to head back down the river. The frontal pontoon seating area had been abandoned except for Bob and me. We alone
were left to face whatever next the dear Colorado had in mind for our trip.
On smooth water for the time being, Bob turned to the group huddled in the middle of the boat.
“Let me show you how they ride buckin’ horses in Wyoming. . . .”

Spring is around the bend

hadley in a new Barn Fly with Cowboy Boot print

Last night we had one heck of a winter squall in Pinedale and most of Sublette County. We had winds that whipped snow into great big drifts and had everyone and everything looking for cover.

As my cat and I sat curled up in front of the rock fireplace in our little log house, I reflected upon how lucky we were to be indoors and not out in it. At the same time, I think we both felt a little sorry for ourselves; as we thought that Spring had arrived early. Well wouldn’t you know, when we rolled out this morning, the sun was bright and our world was sparkling like a million diamonds. That’s Wyoming, a diamond in the rough. Well I got to work and to brighten my spirits even more– our new Ryan Michaels Ladies shirts had arrived at the Cowboy Shop. Spring is really in the air (in my mind) now. What beautiful colors and light weight fabrics will do for cabin fever….

NFR-Super Bowl of Rodeo

Just got back from four days in Vegas – exhausting in itself, but I’ve gotta’ tell you: There’s no better rodeo than the National Finals Rodeo at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. I spend more time than I want to admit to attending rodeos
throughout the year. What with my husband Bob team roping, my son Travis team roping, and my two grandchildren barrel racing, there aren’t too many summer and fall evenings that aren’t spent in a rodeo arena. I’m not complaining, mind you; there are lots of worse places a person could spend their time. BUT, the events can drag on a bit after your significant other has finished their event. . . Bringing me to my point, that the NFR in Vegas is one amazing well run rodeo. They manage to cram in the top ten qualifiers from around the country in all events in under three hours!! You barely have time to get a beer! We had magnificent seats in the Gold Buckle section (read: Bull Slobber Area) courtesy of Wrangler Mfg. (thank you Wrangler, we promise to continue to sell lots of jeans) Four rows up from the arena floor is the perfect spot to view all the events – the roughstock flies by right in front of you – too fast and close to even focus my camera. . . The ropers and bulldoggers were almost in our laps as they vied for fast times. Simply awesome! If you ever get a chance, and you think you’re tough enough to weather three or four days in Vegas, put the NFR on your vaca radar. It’s worth every penny – unless you linger too long at the roulette table, those pennies are on you.

Home Is Where The Heart Is

Driving between Wyoming, Arizona, and california for this holiday weekend I have had way too much time on my hands. XM radio is only so entertaining, and contrary to popular belief, the music starts repeating itself…. So, here I am trapped in a six foot cubicle with only myself for company, moving 75 mph (maybe 80 on occasion) down the highway. I thought about the cold crummy weather I was leaving behind, I thought about the sunny weather I was headed toward, I thought about what I would be cooking on Thursday, and that was all before my first tank of gas ran dry. The balance of the trip was very refreshing as my mind emptied out and shed all my stews and frets. I was then free to enjoy the evolving landscape as snow covered sagebrush gave way to Joshua trees and saguaro cactuses. Red dirt cliffs bordered the highway as we made our way south into Arizona. Once we delivered the horses to Wickenburg, we changed gears and headed west into California for the holiday. (Note to self: why do the horses get to spend the entire winter in warm Arizona while the rest of us have to ultimately return to Wyoming/winter/snow/cold?) Anyway, back to the highway in my 6 foot cube moving 70 mph due west. Thanksgiving day was spent drinking, cooking, drinking, eating, drinking, and some serious storytelling among friends and family. Did I mention that we put a dent in my California friend’s wine cellar? Of course, not ALL our friends or ALL our
family could be in any one place for this one meal. Those that we were missing got phone calls through the day, some less coherent than others as the day and the wine progressed. I hope all of you were with people you love and care for on this Thanksgiving holiday.

Cowboy Dictionary

It’s been suggested to me that I write about western words. Give all of you folks out there in the “real world” a peek at what we mean when we talk about certain subjects. Our frames of reference are totally different, and so, I agree that some simple definitions may be in order. Let’s take “Cowboy” or “Cowgirl” for starters. You may assume these terms are job titles and refer to what these individuals do for a living every day from 9-5. That would be an incorrect assumption. “Cowboy” and “Cowgirl” are much more than that. When I refer to someone as a true Cowboy or Cowgirl, I am recognizing their independent spirit and clear thinking. This person would be honest in their dealings with others, but also not inclined to fool themselves about who they really are. This person would be a hard worker and tackle each task with the expectation to complete that task at whatever cost. And, most of all, this person would respect other people for who they are (or aren’t) as well as respect animals for all they do and bring to our lives. Cowgirls and Cowboys also recognize how important land, dirt, ground, and real estate is to our heritage, past and future. You don’t have to be a radical environmentalist to agree that it’s necessary to take care of grass, air, and water if you plan on using it later on in yours and your children’s lives. In short: Cowboy and Cowgirl are not occupations. They are Attitudes.

Secrets to Life

I drove to the gym this morning. . . Thank goodness it’s now light at 7:45am, but it was still only 8 degrees outside. Which didn’t seem any warmer that the 4 degrees it was yesterday morning. (By the way, do we really need all this information being yelled at us from our cellphones?) Anyway, I punished myself for an hour so that I could be guilt free for the rest of the day. How is it that the “experts” insist that we healthy adults spend three hours a week excersising, when we’re already busy putting in our work day + house cleaning + cooking? Maybe those “Occupy Wall Street” people have extra time, but I don’t seem to. However, I do now have an AWESOME self esteem – thank you sweat and muscle cramps. And so we get to today’s “Secret to Life” – Be happy with who and where you are. I could be younger, thinner, and independently wealthy – but I’m not. So, I go to work, eat (semi) healthy, and keep my hair stylish (…) But, here’s the “secret” part: Wear Wrangler Ladies Booty Jeans!! Whatever your size, these jeans are cut to give you the best look in your “booty”. I don’t know if it’s darts, spandex, or fairy dust – but they’re fab. See them today at http://www.cowboyshop.com

Winter Surprise

How can it be that one day I’m in flip flops and a t-shirt and the next day I have to search the garage for a snow shovel? I don’t know why I’m lulled by the warm weather in October every year and totally side swiped by the first snow storm that inevitably comes too early. I’ve lived in the Rocky Mountains for over forty years and the first snow storm is always a surprise – like maybe there wouldn’t be any this year!!! “Don’t take it personally” is my motto – but do make it work in your favor. For instance, go to http://www.cowboyshop.com and see what Stormy Kromer has come up with to make our winter tolerable. Wool caps for Men, Women, and Kids in colors you need to see to believe. Oh, and enjoy your Sunday. Monday is only hours away. . . .

Welcome everyone – cowboys, cowgirls, dudes, and dudettes

Welcome to the new Cowboy Shop blog. We’re just about to launch our new website http://www.CowboyShop.com – actually it’s not new, it’s getting a facelift. (Something we all need eventually…..) The website has been up for over ten years, but we’ve been around much longer than that. Bob’s mother started the store in 1947 to give all those cowboys something to spend their money on after the war. After many remodels and additions, we’re on the same corner, along the same block we’ve always been. Which comes in handy when customers from years ago stop by to bring their children in for a new pair of cowboy boots. Hundreds, heck thousands, of people come through our doors every year. We hope they’re coming in to buy something, but lots of times they’re in to ask about horses, hay, or rodeos. We don’t mind; we’re happy for the company when business is slow….