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Sam Lightner Jr.: Finally, A Route Up Wyoming’s Gigantic Monolith

in Column/Sam Lightner

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By Sam Lightner Jr. 

It was my sophomore year in college, 1986, when the hook was set. 

On veteran mountaineer Paul Piana’s advice, I’d gone on a quest to find a copy of the Bonney and Bonney book “Guide to Wyoming’s Mountains and Wilderness.” First printed in 1960, this cowboy climbers’ Bible was hard to find, so my buddy Bill Walker gave me his copy. 

“You need it more than I,” he said. I raced home, ignored the necessary studying for a history exam (not that much to remember then as not too much history had passed yet), and opened the book to page 498. Randomly hit it, first try. 

There on 498 was a striking photo of The Monolith, an 1,800-foot buttress of Big Sandy Peak, deep in the Wind River Range. It was an oddly shaped block of Precambrian granite with only one route to the summit, and that one route was not the one I would have chosen for the beautiful wall. 

With a pen I scribbled in where I would someday go on the mountain, then spent the night paging through the tome of possible Wyoming adventures. I think I got a “C” on that 1986 history exam.

Flash forward 30 years, through dozens of countries and up hundreds of rock walls. Some small and some big, but none like The Monolith. 

My friends Shep Vail, Mike Lilygren, and I had made it a yearly priority to climb something, anything, together. With wives, kids, businesses and mortgages, this usually meant something that took no more than a day, but that huge wall, which would certainly take multiple days to ascend, had never been forgotten. In 2015 we made a plan to go into the Winds and try the line I had scribbled into Bonney and Bonney decades before. 

With a combined age well over the century mark, our Spartan days of sleeping wet and eating cold were behind us. We decided this trip would be treated like an international expedition, just one to a rock that was 30 miles from our bedrooms. 

We hired Miss Jessie Allen, aka Miss Wyoming 2014, to haul in gourmet meals, individual tents with multiple sleeping pads and a half dozen gallons of bourbon, then convinced other friends to join us. One, Elyse Guarino, was willing to do so as our chef. From the shores of Papoose Lake in the Wind River Range, our trip in the mountains was going to be plush and soft . . . except for the climbing.  

We made the 1,500-foot vertical walk from the lake to the base of the wall, which faces north and begins at 10,500 feet, the next morning and then began the climbing. “You’re gonna need a bigger boat,” was the adage on that trip, as we had not brought all the necessary big wall equipment needed for an ascent of the scale and altitude of The Monolith. 

Too much bourbon, not enough rope. OK, not enough rope, otherwise fine. Dismayed after a week of work, we tucked tail and went home, bound and determined to come back stronger and with more rope the following year.

That year rolled around and Jessie again rolled our stuff off the mules and into Monolith Base Camp. This time we got very high, up to about 12,000 feet of elevation, but a band of bad rock had sent us back to the base. 

We were actually in good fortune with that . . . had we topped out on the mountain that day in 2016, we would have had to spend the night there, and thus endured (or not endured) one of the most serious electrical storms any of us had ever seen in the mountains. The summit of The Monolith got pounded like Baghdad on a bad night. 

No matter, we were coming back, but the following year we changed tactics. The bottom 1,400 feet of climbing was some of the best we had ever done, so the new goal was to make sure that future generations had a route open that was of exceptional quality. 

Only being 300 feet from the top, less than two full rope lengths, the best way to do that was from above. We came into the mountains from the west, without horses, and went up the west slope of Big Sandy Peak. By the end of the trip we had found a route up the big wall that was exceptional in every way. 

But there was still a problem; we had not completed the climb in the correct style. In modern rock climbing and mountain climbing, the goal is not to just get to the top, but to get to the top without using the rope for anything more than a safety net. 

You are supposed to use the rock for upward movement, not the rope, but there was one section of rock so difficult we could not do it without resting on the rope. If the first attempt had been about “you’re gonna need a bigger boat,” this attempt was “you’re gonna need bigger muscles.” 

The fact is one of us might have been able to free climb the crux, but we needed insurance. We needed something that could assure the clean ascent on the next attempt. 

We needed youth. 

Assuming we could not find a fountain that would provide it, we found someone who still had it; Alex Bridgewater. 

Alex was then a 25-year old professional trainer on the cutting edge of difficult climbing in Wyoming. He was also a really nice guy with a witty sense of humor, and at 115 pounds soaking wet, he didn’t eat much. That combination made him perfect for this route. 

The following season, 2018, we asked him to join us. Over a two-day period, our team managed to free climb all the hardest portions of the route. We were met on the summit by our chef in the first couple of efforts, Elyse Guarino, and all agreed to name the route “Discovery.” 

The name came, in part, from the space ship in the movie “2001; A Space Odyssey” that is sent to research the Monolith, and in part from all we learned about the mountain and ourselves while climbing. 

Discovery has since gotten rave reviews by the climbers who have gone into the Winds to find it. We are proud to have been able to find such a thing and open it up to others.

And I am happy to have finally put the dream to rest that started on page 498 in 1986. 

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Tom Lubnau: Wyoming’s Savings Are Nearly Gone; Get Prepared For Serious Changes

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By Tom Lubnau, guest columnist

I fought fire for the Campbell County Fire Department for 21 years.   While there, we developed a saying: “When perception meets reality, reality always wins.”  

Wyoming finds itself at those crossroads. 

For a generation, we have been the most conservative socialist state in the nation.  We have lived off of the tax dollars paid by other people.  We have developed Cadillac tastes while paying for a bicycle. 

According to the Wyoming Division of Economic analysis, on average, a family of 3 pays $3,180 in taxes while receiving $27,050 in government services. 

The rest of the government expenditures were paid by utility consumers from other states using Wyoming minerals. 

The market has shifted away from Wyoming minerals to other energy sources.  Whether those choices are wise or not does not matter.   Fewer folks are buying our minerals.  

As a result, we in Wyoming have a choice:  pay for the services we receive, or cut those services.   The potential amount of those cuts is staggering:  $1.5 billion dollars per biennium – or about $3,000 for every man, woman and child in the state. 

The governor has started to make cuts required by our Wyoming Constitution, because our income is far below our budget. 

Given our voters’ distaste for new taxes, be prepared for new cuts.  At this stage, dollars cut equal people cut.  

We should be prepared for unemployed contractors due to no new construction, cuts to education meaning educator layoffs, cuts to city and county budgets meaning cuts to law enforcement and emergency services, and cuts to maintenance budgets meaning less snow removal and more potholes.   

It also means less help for our elderly and our children. For six years, we have been balancing our budget with savings.   Our savings is nearly gone.  

We need to be prepared to change our Cadillac tastes to bicycle tastes, to tax ourselves some more or look to a combination of both.  

The reality is we are spending way beyond what we are now collecting in taxes.  No amount of magical thinking changes that reality.  

We need to be prepared to face the consequences of our choices.   Wherever our Legislature chooses to guide us, our lives will be vastly different.  

The Governor’s recent cuts are a minor scratch on the surface.  Be prepared for some serious changes.  The corollary to “when perception meets reality, reality always wins” is that when perception meets reality, it usually hurts.

Tom Lubnau II is a recovering politician and former Speaker of the House who practices law in Gillette, Wyoming.

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Jim Angell: Cheyenne Frontier Days “Frontier Fun Food Festival” Is High Point Of My Year

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The cloudy skies of my personal COVID-saturated 2020 parted just a bit this week as Cheyenne Frontier Days officials announced the return of the high point of my year.

Frontier Days announced that during Labor Day weekend, its food concessionaire will hold the “Frontier Fun Food Festival,” an opportunity to sample the ambrosia that is carnival food.

Now, it must be noted that I while I enjoy Frontier Days, I see it largely as life support for a bigger cause: the ability to get fine carnival food.

I won the best assignment in the world in 2019 when I was sent by Cowboy State Daily to sample and rank the 10 best carnival foods. I am the slightly rotund intrepid reporter seen in the video above consuming enough calories and cholesterol to incapacitate the average human.

I was crushed when the announcement came earlier this year that Frontier Days would be canceled — taking with it my shot at getting a genuine carnival corndog in 2020.

Thankfully, between Frontier Days and its new food concessionaire, Fun Biz Concessions, I will get my chance at that corndog after all.

On Sept. 3-7, Fun Biz Concessions will open booths at the Frontier Days Midway where people can sample the best of its selections: hot dogs, corndogs, deep-fried pickles, deep-fried Oreos, corndogs, deep-fried cookie dough, turkey legs, sausage on a stick, corndogs, fresh-squeezed lemonade, hamburgers, pork chops on a stick and, of course, corndogs. And, as they say on television, much, much more!

If there seems to be a pattern to the dishes listed above, it stems from my two personal rules regarding food:

Everything is better deep-fried, and

Every kind of food tastes better on a stick.

And so, sometime on Labor Day weekend, you will find me at the Frontier Days Midway, eyes glazed and probably holding onto a corndog or two.

However, if I am assigned to sample the fare, on the advice of my doctor, I will limit my samples to five.

Bon Appetit!

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Dave Simpson: Better Cross Portland Off Your List

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By Dave Simpson, Cowboy State Daily columnist

So, answer me this.

Was the guy in Portland who kicked the other guy in the head a peaceful demonstrator?

Was he so worked up and enthusiastic about his peaceful demonstrating that the only reasonable course of action was to take a good run up and kick a man, who was sitting dazed on the ground from his preliminary beating at the hands of other peaceful demonstrators, IN THE HEAD, like an NFL field goal kicker trying to put the ball through the uprights from mid field?

Was that guy a peaceful demonstrator?

I live out where the buses don’t run, and it has been many years since I lived in a big city. So maybe I’m just not up to date on current trends. So I have to ask, is kicking  man viciously in the head classified as peaceful demonstrating these days?

Looks like attempted murder to me.

How about attempting to burn down a federal courthouse? Is that peaceful demonstrating, too? Firing commercial grade fireworks into a line of police officers. Throwing rocks, urine and feces at cops. Smashing store windows. Looting. Is all of this going on now in Portland for almost three months peaceful demonstrating?

Meanwhile, persistent efforts are being made by the news media to portray all of this craziness as just more “peaceful demonstrating.” (In London, rioting sparked this headline from the BBC: “27 Police Officers Injured in Largely Peaceful Anti-racism Protests.”

Largely peaceful? Twenty seven cops injured?) Insisting that these are peaceful demonstrations as we see video after video of rioting brings to mind the Groucho Marx quote about not believing our own eyes.

Another question: Was the guy who got kicked in the head by the peaceful demonstrator exhibiting some kind of privilege that made him deserve a swift kick to the head?

It’s my understanding that his offense was trying to defend a trans-gender woman who was being beaten by peaceful demonstrators. So he too was beaten by the mob, then kicked in the head.

The guy who got kicked in the head is apparently going to be OK, and as I write this, they’ve identified the the guy who kicked him and are looking for him. That’s progress for a city in which the mayor seems to be OK with over 80 days of mayhem, but draws the line at federal officers trying to keep the rampaging mob from burning down the federal courthouse.

Where on earth is the adult supervision in Portland? What do normal people there think? Who would want to live in Portland, or run a business there, under these conditions?

When does the rioting stop? Never?

A year ago, my daughter, my son and I attended a wedding in Portland. We boarded a cruise boat downtown and spent a beautiful evening cruising the Willamette River, past the posh homes and spectacular buildings of Portland.

The afternoon before, we visited a huge book store downtown, and had an excellent lunch at a local brewery. I have a framed picture of the three of us at the brewery, enjoying our visit to Portland. The only downside was finding a place to park, because the downtown area was so popular.

I wonder what that visit would be like today, after almost three months of peaceful demonstrators tearing up jack in Portland. Maybe if you avoid the federal courthouse you can keep from getting kicked in the head, or beaten for defending a woman being beaten by peaceful demonstrators.

Maybe the directions you get on your cell phone have been adjusted to avoid kicked-in-the-head zones.

The fact is, if that wedding was this year instead of last year, we would have sent our regrets. Who in his right mind would visit war-torn Portland today?

The city leaders of Portland, however, are apparently OK with this situation, saving their ire for federal officers trying to keep the lunatics from burning down the (our) federal courthouse.

So much for Portland. And too bad. It’s a beautiful city, now at the mercy of brutal anarchists.

I listened closely last week and didn’t hear one Democrat at their convention cite the great job their party has done running big cities like Portland.

It figures.

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Bill Sniffin: What Is Wyoming’s Worst Tourist Attraction? Well, Think Again!

in Bill Sniffin/Column

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher, Cowboy State Daily

Cowboy State Daily just published a list of the worst tourist attractions in America and here in Wyoming, the Intergalactic Spaceport in Green River topped the list


I have actually landed my airplane at the spaceport.  Yeah, it was a bumpy gravel strip but it sure was handy when visiting the Green River Star, a newspaper where I was the publisher. 

Now this was back in 1976.  I am not sure it was even considered a spaceport then.  Living in Lander, it was a 2.5-hour drive to Green River and a 40-minute flight.  The then-new Rock Springs airport is about five miles east of Rock Springs, which made flying in to it and then lining up a car to drive to Green River was almost more difficult than just driving the entire way.  

And let’s be honest, driving over South Pass can be thrilling just about any time of year because of wind, rain, fog, snow, and wild animals. But I digress.

Sometime after 1976, the clever folks in Green River decided they wanted to create a more interesting name for their lowly, pretty much abandoned airport and came up with the idea of it being Wyoming’s “only” intergalactic spaceport.  Very clever.

The site is largely abandoned except for the signs. The views, though, from the strip on top of South Hill, about four miles from Green River, are spectacular.  And a neat road into Firehole Canyon is not far. I like the place very much. 

Instagram recently did a survey and then published a map of the 50 states which listed the worst tourist attractions in each state. 

Heck, I have been to 14 of them including Hollywood, Route 66, Grand Canyon, Mormon Temple, Casa Bonita, Corn Palace, Carhenge, Field of Dreams, Bourbon St., Wisconsin Dells, Disneyworld, Myrtle Beach, Times Square, and Alamo. Check out the story on Cowboy State Daily and see how many you have been to. 

So, if the spaceport isn’t the worst attraction in Wyoming, what is?

For some reason I was always suspicious of going to the Vore Buffalo Jump near Sundance.  But it is the real deal.  Really an amazing site. You can learn a lot there, so count that one out. 

To folks who don’t get it, getting to the Medicine Wheel high in the Big Horn Mountains between Lovell and Buffalo-Sheridan would seem to be way too much work for not enough satisfaction.  Again, not true. It is a truly spiritual place.  At 10,000 feet in elevation it literally takes your breath way in more ways than one. So, scratch that off the list. 

Maybe a third over-rated site would be Ayres Natural Bridge. It is a little county park along Interstate 25 between Glenrock and Casper. Again, wrong.  It is a wonderful place. On a hot summer day, it is very cool.  Don’t miss it. 

Well, later on I might add some other names to this list. 

Maybe the Spaceport really is the worst tourist attraction in Wyoming. Heck, it isn’t even the only spaceport.  Everybody knows that Devils Tower is the main spaceport on the entire planet.  Back in 1977, Stephen Spielberg arranged for a huge craft full of aliens to make the first official contact with humans there. Right on that spot. Right here in Wyoming!

So, that leaves the spaceport with the “worst” designation. Sorry Green River folks. 

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John Walker: Please Accept Bridger Walker’s Challenge

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By John Walker, guest columnist

            “If someone had to die, I thought it should be me.” – Bridger Walker

In January of 2016 my wife Trena, 1½-year-old grandson Bridger and I drove to the hospital so that we could meet Bridger’s newborn little sister.   I was a bit concerned at the time that Bridger would resent having to share “HIS” home with a little sister.

My concern was promptly alleviated when Bridger was introduced to his baby sister.  Bridger’s small physical body and massive eternal spirit tenderly embraced the newborn baby.  

After holding her for just a few minutes it was apparent that Bridger was devoted to his tiny sibling.  Each and every time that I suggested to Bridger that it was my turn to hold “HIS” little sister he smiled and pointed to his chest (i.e. the answer was “No”).  

As the world now knows, Bridger’s brotherly love was fully displayed on July 9th when he risked his own life to protect his 4-year-old sister from an attacking dog. 

At a minimum, Bridger spared his sister from some indescribably horrid injuries.  More likely, by and through his selfless act of sacrifice and love, he saved his baby sister’s life.  

I must acknowledge that my heart is overflowing with gratitude for Bridger and his profound example of devotion and love.  Bridger you are a cherished grandson AND you will forever be my hero.  

I am also eternally grateful to God for sending Bridger to our family.  He is and has always been a wonderful and cherished blessing to the Walker clan.

My heart is also filled with gratitude for the kind, generous and selfless acts of those who have reached out to comfort Bridger as he does his best to recover from the emotional and physical injuries that he sustained while shielding his little sister. 

Thank you so much for the many remarkable rocks, toys, t-shirts and various creative and meaningful gifts you have sent to Bridger.

I know that I cannot specifically thank each and every one of the millions who have prayed for Bridger’s recovery, but please know that I know that your prayers have been heard. 

I also extend my sincere thanks to Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, the Russo brothers, Bo Jackson,  Dr. Dhaval Bhanusali, Larry Nance Jr., MrBeast, The Batman of Spring Hill, and Bret Michaels for reaching out to and supporting Bridger.   

I greatly appreciate your respective and collective time and energy that was so selflessly expended in behalf of Bridger.  You truly helped invigorate and strengthen both his little body and his immense spirit.

My thanks also goes out to the World Boxing Council for awarding Bridger an honorary World Championship, Tom Burman and the UW Athletic Department for your gracious gift, the F-22 Demo Team for your compassionate time spent with Bridger, the New York City Firefighters for the dessert that you shared with Bridger and It’s Sugar for subsidizing Bridger’s sweet tooth. 

And to the artists who shared their talent with our family, please know that your many varied drawings of Bridger and his little sister captured my heart.

In honor of all who have graciously reached out to support Bridger, he has a request:  On the first weekend of September (i.e. Sept. 5th and 6th), Bridger asks that you devote some of your time, energy and talent in performing a generous act of kindness for a friend, family member, neighbor, co-worker or even a stranger.  We humbly refer to his request as the Bridger challenge.

Please accept the Bridger challenge.

 John M. Walker is an attorney and lifelong Wyomingite who lives in Cheyenne.  His email address is

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Jim Hicks: Always Take Your Stock Trailer Along For Potty Breaks

in Column/Jim Hicks

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By Jim Hicks, guest columnist

Anyone who has owned a horse or stock trailer knows that if “push comes to shove” they can be used for a bathroom in a pinch. 

Some true stories just can’t include names, but rest assured this one is factual.

About a week ago one of the early morning coffee group (now gathering at an undisclosed location with proper social distancing) told a story on himself.

He was pulling his empty trailer back over the mountain to Buffalo and was stopped to wait for a “pilot car” at a highway construction project west of Powder River Pass.

“I had enjoyed too much coffee before I left that morning and really had to go,” he said. “So I walked back to the trailer and took care of the problem.”

As he was closing the door on the trailer a driver from a car behind him walked up, smiled and said . . . “Could I use your bathroom?”

Trailer owners who have taken advantage of this option will also tell you it is important to make sure the trailer door doesn’t latch behind you on most models. 

It’s possible to lock yourself inside and no way to get out without some help.

A couple of years back a local lady found herself in serious need of a “rest-stop” so she pulled off to the side of the highway, got in the trailer and took care of the problem.

While she was “going” she was struck with a cold and chilling fact. When she had pulled the trailer door closed, she remembered hearing that latch fall into place. There was no physical way to open it from the inside of the trailer.

She stuck her arm though the opening on the side of the trailer and waved frantically at passing cars for nearly 40 minutes.  

That just wasn’t working and no one even slowed down. But ranch girls are resourceful.

When she started waving her bra . . . it didn’t take long before she heard the tires squealing on a passing vehicle.

Two young men walked back to see what the signal was all about. After some joking around about the situation they freed the young woman and she joined them in the laughter.

Meanwhile, back down on the Main Drag in Buffalo this week one of the Bench Sitters got a lot of attention when he announced he had come up with a great “Covid Test” anyone could do right in their own home. 

“It’s inexpensive and you get fast results,” he claimed.

“Take a glass and pour a decent shot of your favorite whiskey into it. Then see if you can smell it . . . if you can smell it then you are halfway there. Then drink it and if you can taste it then it is reasonable to assume you are currently free of the virus.

“I tested myself six or seven times last night and was virus-free every time, thank goodness.

“I will have to test myself again today because I have developed a headache, which can be one of the symptoms.”

We knew at once he was pulling our leg.  All of us with the exception of one who will remain unnamed.  With a straight face he asked . . . “Will that work with beer too?”

We hope you found some shade this week.  Monday was a scorcher for sure.

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Bill Sniffin: Four Women In The Headlines After Wyoming Primary Elections

in Bill Sniffin/Column

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher

National history concerning women was made in Wyoming last Tuesday – and it occurred on the 100th anniversary of national suffrage for women. You just cannot make this up.

The four major party candidates for U. S. Senator and U. S. Representative will all be women come the general election on Nov. 3. 

This is simply amazing.

And one of the women brings another amazing statistic to the table – Lynnette Grey Bull of the Wind River Indian Reservation, is the first native American woman to run for a major national race in Wyoming.

The two best known winners Tuesday are Liz Cheney and Cynthia Lummis. Cheney is the incumbent Republican U. S. Representative, who won her primary and will be a heavy favorite in the general against Grey Bull. 

Lummis was a four-term U. S. Representative and will be a heavy favorite to defeat Democrat Merav Ben-David from Laramie.

Cheney and Lummis are both Republicans in a state that is overwhelmingly Republican.

Reporter Tom Coulter did an excellent article on this and quoted Ben-David: “This is an unprecedented time, and (this election) will be unprecedented in so many ways. I will be the first female Wyoming senator, the first scientist in the Senate since 1982 and the first climate scientist ever elected to the Senate,” Ben-David said. “I think there will be so many firsts if I win, and I intend to win,” she added.

Coulter’s story also reported: In a historic step for Native American representation in Wyoming, Lynnette Grey Bull secured the Democratic nomination to run in the November general election, making her the first Native American person to secure the federal nomination of a major political party in Wyoming.

Grey Bull, a member of the Northern Arapaho Tribe and vice president of the Global Indigenous Council. Grey Bull won a vast majority of the vote, with roughly 12,328 ballots cast for her.

After her victory Tuesday night, Grey Bull said she looked forward to continuing her campaign’s momentum into the general election. As a woman and as the first Native American person to secure a major-party nomination in Wyoming, Grey Bull said the experience has been emotional.

“I know the suffering that my people have gone through,” Grey Bull said. “I know the long history that we have here, not only in Wyoming, but in the Northern Plains region.”

“Something like today, out of all the ‘no’s’ I’ve received in life, this ‘yes’ really means a lot, not only for myself, but for my people,” she continued.

The general election will be held Nov. 3.

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Cowboy State Daily Is Expanding! Will You Help us Grow?

in Bill Sniffin/Column

By Bill Sniffin, Cowboy State Daily

Dear reader and friend,

Cowboy State Daily has been really hitting it out of the park lately.

Just 20 months ago, when we launched Wyoming’s newest statewide digital daily news service, we didn’t expect to grow this rapidly. But we have.

In the last three months alone, our readership has more than quadrupled. We’re seeing a big increase in readers who come directly to our site, who visit us from Facebook, and those who come to us from the daily newsletter.

It’s been particularly fun to watch the engagement on Facebook.  Just last week, one of our posts had nearly 5,000 shares and that resulted in 300,000 readers!

Daily subscribers to our FREE newsletter have grown tremendously as well.  We’ve tripled our subscribers in the last few months. Here’s how you can sign-up.  It’s easy and it’s FREE.

People are coming to us because we provide lively news and commentary from Wyoming journalists and columnists. We never close down. We’re always up.

On the coronavirus story alone, we’ve published over 550 stories! Nobody has covered it like we have.

The feedback we are getting from our dedicated readers has been fantastic. Let us know how we are doing, please.

But you haven’t seen anything yet. We are ambitious. We want to greatly increase our coverage from all across Wyoming. This will require money to hire new employees and to provide the technological know-how to get it all done.

With all this success in the future, would you be able to give us a hand today in the present?

We are a 501 C 3 non-profit corporation and depend on donations to pay our outstanding staff, compile a fantastic daily newsletter, and maintain our exciting web page.

In the past six months, we have had donations ranging from $25 to $20,000. 

We did a small practice fund drive over Memorial Day which generated a nice sum that has kept us going up to now. We also have sold some wonderful advertising packages to outstanding companies like Black Hills Energy and Timberline Hospitalities plus created and ran promotions for Carbon, Goshen, and Sweetwater Counties.

Cowboy State Daily is working well on so many levels but between the COVID-19 crisis and the Wyoming economy crashing, we sure would appreciate it if our loyal readers would consider giving us some financial support?  

You can donate by credit card through our web site or our free daily newsletter or send a check to Cowboy State Daily, Box 900, Lander, WY 82520.  Feel free to call me at (307) 349 2211 if you have fund-raising ideas or if you want to sponsor a certain type of story or column.

We are an excellent advertising medium. Please consider us for your next ad buy. Just contact me. 

 Also, if you are involved in a charitable foundation or family foundation, please let me know. We would very much appreciate being considered for a grant. Thanks in advance.

 Don’t just watch us grow, join us!

 Thanks again for your support.

 Bill Sniffin, Publisher

Dave Simpson: Chewing The Fat Out On The Porch

in Column/Dave Simpson

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

Three old guys sitting in Adirondack chairs on a porch, staring into a crackling campfire.

All three of us are 69, but the consensus is that we feel like we’re in our 50s.

“Except when I first get up from a chair like this,” I say. “For the first couple minutes after sitting for a while, I walk around like an old man.”

“You ARE an old man, Dave,” one of them says, and the other one laughs. Between the three of us, there have been one knee replacement, a torn quadriceps, two rotator cuff repairs, a back operation and one heart scare.

One of us has escaped the attention of the orthopedic surgeons, so far, but his wife has had two knees and two shoulders replaced. Nobody escapes unscathed.

We worked together in Central Illinois for a time back in the ’90s. I was their boss, but our friendships survived anyway. We remain close friends. Two of us live in Wyoming now, and the third lives in southern California.

All of us have had our share of caring for aging parents. My wife and I care for her mother at age 96. The guy from California was on his way home from taking care of his dad, who is in his 90s, in Nebraska. We seized on his passing through, giving us a chance to get together, sit on the porch, and as my dad used to say, “chew the fat.”

I’ll be the first to admit that some adult beverages were consumed, and empty cans of Coors and Pabst Blue Ribbon littered the porch floor. We’re not the kind of guys who want grapefruit, or raspberries or lemon in our beer. That’s not who we are.

We make quick work of a tin of Beer Nuts, and move on to the Doritos.

The beautiful wife of the guy from California died 13 years ago from cancer. He has not remarried. The long-suffering wives of the other two don’t mind us getting together up in the mountains now and then. We joke that they must have boyfriends. (Not likely after 35 and 47 years of marriage.)

I pass around a notebook full of pictures of two of us building this cabin back in the 1980s. The third guy asked specifically to visit “the cabin,” and he finds a sad note in my cabin diary from the day his wife died.

“Look,” he says, pointing to a picture of me with lots of hair and a full beard, wielding an ax, way back in 1984. “This is when Dave had hair!”

I gamely join in the laughter. I was nice about it.

All three of us are conservatives, close to rock-ribbed. We worked together in a vastly liberal business – local newspapers – and we have plenty of stories about how crazy it once was. That business has pretty much gone down the tubes in recent years, making retirement – at least in my case – a welcome rescue from a sinking ship.

Two of the three of us don’t watch much television anymore, having parted ways with most broadcast stations and cable. One watches a lot of YouTube. They don’t listen to much talk radio. I watch cable and listen to talk radio, a creature of habit. Of the three former local newspaper employees, only one still subscribes to a local newspaper. Two get the Wall Street Journal.

We all appreciate much of what Donald Trump has accomplished, but wish he would quit giving the Democrats so much ammunition with his tweets. Supporters like us deserve a break. None of us can imagine a President Joe Biden, because he’s so liberal, and because we see evidence of getting older in Joe, things we see in ourselves, memories that aren’t as sharp as the once were, gaits that aren’t as quick, words that don’t come easily anymore.

A steak dinner on the porch, some beer and hours of conversation take their toll.

As I head off to bed, they’re still going strong out on the porch, turning their attention to religion.

A porch. A campfire. Three old friends chewing the fat.

As the kids say nowadays, “Perfect.”

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