What we did on our Summer "vacation": Visited Rye Patch and Elko, Nevada
Posted on September 04 2016
One of the highlights of this Summer has been our travel adventures.
When the Western Folklife Center in Elko, Nevada (home of the world famous Cowboy Poetry Gathering) wrote us about carrying our soaps, I was beside myself with excitement. Here was this place that I had been fantasizing about going to... and they wanted our products!! It was one of those celebrity moments.
It also happened to be around the Perseid Meteor Shower, so, with multiple kinds of stars in our eyes, we decided to set out across the fair state of Nevada and make our way to Elko.
A side note about Cowboy Poetry: I do not generally like poetry. At all. I appreciate people's need to get their emotions and squishy bits out on paper, and sometimes deliver it in front of people, but it just isn't my taste of entertainment. Cowboy Poetry, though, is different. It's usually about nature. About being in the open, vast expanse of the West -- about the experience of being a cowboy, which is something radically different than my life, but something I desperately wish to live (and always have, for as long as I became aware of it at all). Cowboy Poetry reveals that experience to me, unfolding a lifestyle that a former city slicker like myself could only dream of. So that's why I love Cowboy Poetry.
Last year, I decided to vend at the Monterey Cowboy Poetry Festival, which was just great. I had never seen Cowboy Poetry live and in person, and being a vendor was a clever way to cover my travel costs and get into the festival for free. I sat on the floor in the back (it was sold out) with tears running down my face, living through these other people's writing, listening to their songs, and relishing the experience of cowboy life. It was magical.
Novices to meteor watching, Russ and I realized (too late, literally) that the best meteor viewing was at around 4:00 in the morning, just before dawn.
So, with resignation, we retired to bed and set our alarm for goddamn-it-are-you-crazy? o'clock. Which we turned off as soon as it went off and went back to bed.
Meteors seen: 4.
Bugs seen: 4 gazillion.
In the morning, I made breakfast, as usual. It was absolutely gorgeous out there, and we strongly recommend Rye Patch to anyone who has a hankering to camp in a relatively desolate stretch of land in Nevada.
I know it's not for everyone, but, people who enjoy it, you know who you are.
And then we set off to Elko (which was only a few hours away from Rye Patch)! JOY!
On the way, we passed a very weird house. More on that later.
We made it to Elko at about 10 in the morning, unannounced. Yeah, I did email Kimberly to let her know we were coming, but I didn't exactly wait for a confirmation to hear if we were welcome. Thankfully, Kimberly was totally delighted (albeit surprised) to see us.
And The Western Folklife Museum was everything we could have ever hoped for. We wandered around and I fell in love with it all. There's even a booth for recording stories from old cowboys, since that time in history is dying with a lot of old cowboys. It's a great loss, and I am glad they're doing what they can to preserve that time.
The old West, and the cowboy lifestyle, isn't generally over-shared on blogs and social media. Cowboys don't tend to be digital natives, and now that most publishing is done online, someone has to come in and translate their words from story to bits.
When my grandma was alive, I would listen to her stories for hours. I wish I had recorded her so I could hear them again.
I think maybe that's why I love cowboy poetry so much of my grandma's experience and the stories she used to tell me.
In the Western Folklife Museum, they have paintings of the open West, and gorgeously designed boots, and other artifacts of cowboy life. Russ and I looked at the places he grew up, which were on a couple maps on the wall. (Note to self: ask him about his time in Cheyenne.)
It was also wonderful to talk to Kimberly, since I knew I'd found a kindred spirit. She makes beautiful jewelry which is also sold in the Western Folklife gift shop.
I'm so excited to go back there in January for the cowboy poetry Festival. After talking with her, I am sure that's where I belong. It's right after my birthday, so maybe it's just kind of a birthday experience. And I think will be vendors there. You should join us!
On the way home, we decided to stop at that weird old house. I found some stuff about it on Trip Advisor, so we knew that it was a legitimate attraction. It turns out, some guy had landed there and decided to make a big weird art project out of his home. He was clearly a little mentally unstable, but who isn't? And really, what he made was amazing and beautiful. I have really never seen anything like it, and it is worth a stop. I think it's called the big thunder Mountain house or something, which is a little weird, since there is no mountain and, when were there, there was no thunder (literal or otherwise).
We got home that evening, baked a little bit from the sun, and road weary. But it was a wonderful venture and it only took a couple days. It's always wonderful to get out there past the inertia of home life, and see if you can see some stars... Of many varieties.