Journey to Wyoming – Kathleen’s Story

<a href=”http://www.goldenyearslifestyle.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Nothing-1-cropped.jpg” target=”_blank”><img class=”size-medium wp-image-655″ alt=”Nothing #1 cropped” src=”http://www.goldenyearslifestyle.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Nothing-1-cropped-300×107.jpg” width=”300″ height=”107″ /></a> Highway in Wyoming

<span style=”font-size: medium; font-family: helvetica;”>Recently my husband submitted a page here about why he lives in Wyoming and how he got here.  My impression from reading his words is that the stifling heat and humidity of Oklahoma drove him out of that state and when he looked for a place he thought would meet the needs of him and his family at the time, Wyoming seemed like a good place for a new start.  Despite having little to no real knowledge about the state and with no other plan in mind other than to get there, he piled his family and their belongings into their vehicle and headed north.
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<span style=”font-size: medium; font-family: helvetica;”>I realized as I was reading his article how very similar our experiences were as we headed  this direction.  In a nutshell we were both looking for a more suitable climate and a better way of life for the family.  We each struck out for Wyoming guided by a blind faith that that’s what we’d find there.  But his words about how he felt when he actually drove into the area touched me deeply.  He had butterflies in his stomach but a deep sense that this was the right decision.  Some might recognize a euphoric state of blissful ignorance of what might lie ahead.  Some might call it love at first sight – the vistas here are breathtaking.</span>

<a href=”http://www.goldenyearslifestyle.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Spring-flow-in-Sinks.jpg” target=”_blank”><img class=”size-medium wp-image-675 alignright” alt=”Spring flow in Sinks” src=”http://www.goldenyearslifestyle.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Spring-flow-in-Sinks-300×225.jpg” width=”300″ height=”225″ /></a>

<span style=”font-size: medium; font-family: helvetica;”>For me, to paraphrase an old John Denver song, I would call it “coming home to a place we’d never been before”.  Each of us crossed the Wyoming border almost 7 years apart and from different directions but we knew immediately, we had found our new home.  Eventually we would find each other, but that’s a whole other story.</span>

<span style=”font-size: medium; font-family: helvetica;”>So how did <b><i>I</i></b> find my way to Wyoming of all places?  The complete answer to that question is rather lengthy and philosophical and scattered throughout the blogs I’ve referenced on this page. In those blogs, I really fill in the details of how my life and my lifestyle evolved into finding contentment in Wyoming, and I hope you will click on the links and take some time to read them.  The shorter version is written below, and by far the shortest answer to that question is that it basically took me over 25 years after leaving home to discover the lifestyle of my youth was my favorite lifestyle, and I finally found a place where I could live it every day in Wyoming.
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<span style=”font-size: medium; font-family: helvetica;”><b>Here’s My Story</b>
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<span style=”font-size: medium; font-family: helvetica;”>When I write here that I grew up in a small town in California that is not an oxymoron.  I grew up about 70 miles south of San Francisco in Santa Cruz County.  My early childhood years were spent in a very tiny town in the mountains called Boulder Creek, and in the later years of my youth I lived in the town of Santa Cruz which was fairly small at the time.  So basically I am a small-town girl at heart and I love the simple life that is defined by that relatively easy-going environment.
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<span style=”font-size: medium; font-family: helvetica;”>I didn’t have a personal desire growing up to enter any particular career but my mom was adamant that I go to college and “get a degree”.  I had an aptitude for Math so that’s what I studied.  I got my BA degree in Santa Barbara, married my college boyfriend, and soon found myself living and working in Orange County, sucked into the corporate lifestyle of the aerospace industry as a software design engineer.  Was this the life of my dreams?  Well, remember, I didn’t really have any great dreams for my life yet so I would say accidentally it was working at the time.  Lucky for me.</span>

<span style=”font-size: medium; font-family: helvetica;”>After my brief marriage ended and I was left to my own devices, I found an interest in downhill skiing, and traveled to the snow-country where I discovered I enjoyed being in the little ski resort towns that had a similar feel to the small mountain town I grew up in.  From that experience I developed a love for weather outside the boring 40 degree temperature range for Southern California.  I started to get annoyed at the 75 degree temperatures on Christmas morning there.  Not to mention the traffic congestion, the constant background noise of the city, the millions of people, the concrete “scenery”, or the standard for a “beautiful day” which basically meant the off-shore breezes had moved the smog out for a few hours.</span>

<a href=”http://www.goldenyearslifestyle.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/DSCI0218.jpg” target=”_blank”><img class=”size-medium wp-image-656″ alt=”DSCI0218″ src=”http://www.goldenyearslifestyle.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/DSCI0218-300×225.jpg” width=”300″ height=”225″ /></a> Early morning on Santa Cruz coastline.

<span style=”font-size: medium; font-family: helvetica;”>I really was starting to miss everything I remembered about my old hometown and the lifestyle of that coastal area.  My friends were tired of listening to me whine, and my new fella was willing to check out life in my Northern California “paradise”, so we moved back up to Northern California.</span>
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<span style=”font-size: medium; font-family: helvetica;”><b>My hometown did not feel like home anymore</b>
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<span style=”font-size: medium; font-family: helvetica;”>They say “you can never go back”, and unfortunately “they” were right in this case.  In the 10 years I was gone, the University of California had installed a campus in the mountains above Santa Cruz, and the Silicon Valley could not handle the population growth from the computer industry so Santa Cruz had acquired the overflow.  The population of Santa Cruz County had exploded by more than 100,000 people during my 10-year absence.  <a href=”http://www.goldenyearslifestyle.com/lifestyle-changes/” target=”_blank”>The entire lifestyle of the sleepy little beach town had transformed into the lifestyle of an urbanized college town. </a> I hardly recognized my favorite old places or the stores downtown.  But still I was “home”.  My mom lived there, I could go to the beaches I loved, and the weather was an improvement especially the air quality.  I was married to the man who moved with me and we took vacations in the winter so I could enjoy my time in the snow.   We had settled into a quiet residential community in the mountains above Santa Cruz, in fact the temps at our house had about a 90 degree range since we had a little altitude where we lived.  Was this the life of my dreams?  Well, I knew it was getting closer but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was missing.  I still was without a plan…no real vision for what I wanted my life to be.
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<span style=”font-size: medium; font-family: helvetica;”>Without realizing it at the time, much as I wanted it to be different than what I had left in Southern California, my life in Santa Cruz was pretty much about the same as what I had tried to “escape”.  And California as a whole had become very expensive to live in.  Even before our son was born, I had talked my husband into thinking about leaving the state.  Sell our house.  Buy something more affordable.  Simplify our lives.  Live closer to his job…or do something completely different…maybe work together on something.  My deep down entrepreneurial persona was starting to emerge.  I had always wanted a store.  My father had a little clothing store when I was a child growing up in Boulder Creek.  Something like that sounded really fun to me.  I wanted to do something different because deep down I was not happy living the life we had.  Not really what your husband wants to hear, especially when he is very happy in his engineering career right where we were.</span>

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<span style=”font-size: medium; font-family: helvetica;”><b>Mid-Life Crisis or Late Bloomer?</b>
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<span style=”font-size: medium; font-family: helvetica;”>Once my son was born, we shifted into the life of parenthood and kept ourselves pretty occupied with our son’s life and his little journey into childhood.  As the years were passing by, I was slipping into my 40’s.  By that time, I had experienced enough changes around me that I knew the parts that I wasn’t happy with and what I really wanted out of life was starting to take shape.  The lifestyle I desired was unfolding.  I suppose deep down, I always wanted to recapture for myself the quiet, easy life of my younger days.  When my son came along, I was very certain I wanted that small-town life for him also.  Looking back, I can see now what was pressing in upon me was the need to look for a new hometown.  As my son approached school age, it wasn’t long before I revived my mission to leave California.
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<span style=”font-size: medium; font-family: helvetica;”>From a short-sighted perspective, one might call this a mid-life crisis.  If you consider the 25 years it took for my life’s plan to formulate, I would call this simply being a late bloomer.  By contrast, my husband had been living out the plan he had created in his twenties.  He loved being an engineer and he was quite successful in his work, he loved living in the mountains only a few miles from an urbanized coastal city, and he loved his family.  But his wife was very, very unhappy.  So to work on fixing that, he agreed to look at the possibility of living around Denver, CO.  Denver seemed like an area where he could find work.  It didn’t have the ocean but it had the Rockies and more seasonal weather.  We planned an exploratory trip.  Then someone mentioned that Wyoming might be of interest to us.  I think this might have been the second or third time I had ever heard of Wyoming in my lifetime.  But it sounded like a pretty place to visit…Yellowstone and all….so we decided to spend a few days of our vacation in Wyoming.</span>

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<span style=”font-size: medium; font-family: helvetica;”><b>Discovering my new home</b>
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<span style=”font-family: helvetica; font-size: medium;”>What a surprise!  I knew from the moment I arrived in Fremont County that I wanted to live here…right here.  We continued up the highway to visit Grand Teton National Park and I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  </span>

<a href=”http://www.goldenyearslifestyle.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Tetons-fixed.jpg” target=”_blank”><img class=”size-medium wp-image-652″ alt=”Tetons fixed” src=”http://www.goldenyearslifestyle.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Tetons-fixed-300×233.jpg” width=”300″ height=”233″ /></a> View of Grand Tetons in Wyoming

<span style=”font-size: medium; font-family: helvetica;”>The only mountains I had seen to match their statuesque beauty were the Alps in Europe.  We went up to Yellowstone and visited the Old Faithful geyser and we spoke with lots of locals in our travels all of whom were down-to-earth and friendly.  We asked questions about living here and everyone we spoke with loved Wyoming.  Then we had to leave and go to Colorado.  While I tried to be open-minded, nothing compared to the experience I had in the state we had just left.  In fact, what we saw in Colorado reminded me of California – Southern California – and I already knew I was not interested in that type of living again.  As we drove on I70 leaving the state I started to ask my husband what it would take to move to Wyoming.</span>

<span style=”font-size: medium; font-family: helvetica;”>Well, it would take two more years, a lot of tears and a great parting of the ways for my husband and our son and myself.  My mom was shocked and angry.  No one had seen a separation coming.  No one in my family had ever left California.  Everyone thought I was crazy.  And no one thought I would still be here 18 years later.  I had never made such a huge decision on my own in my life before.  I drove out from California at the very end of December in l994 with my 6-year-old son in that blissful state borne of ignorance of what might lie ahead.  I had never driven that far in my life alone before.  I had very little experience driving in the snow and when I hit the major pass that drops into Fremont County it was snowing so hard they closed the road shortly after our arrival on December 29<sup>th</sup>.  Talk about butterflies in my stomach…that would be an understatement.  When I took my son to school the following Monday morning, the thermometer in town read 28 degrees below zero.  Thus began my experience of living with four distinct seasons in the year and a whopping 130 degree range in the annual temperature.  At least weather-wise, I immediately knew it wasn’t going to be boring anymore.  My new adventure in Riverton, WY had begun.
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<span style=”font-size: medium; font-family: helvetica;”>With barely 9000 people in town, this new little place definitely reminded me of my youth.  No traffic jams, no concrete high-rises, no smog, no background noises, just peace and quiet, clear blue skies, and strangers smiling and saying hello to me as I was shopping in the grocery store.  Yes, we had some difficult times in my first couple of years here and at one low point I almost decided to return to California.  After three days of wrestling with myself over that thought, I realized this was where I felt at home and I just couldn’t leave.  Once that decision was behind me, there was no looking back.  </span>

<a href=”http://www.goldenyearslifestyle.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Nothing-2-cropped.jpg” target=”_blank”><img class=”size-medium wp-image-663 ” alt=”Nothing #2 cropped” src=”http://www.goldenyearslifestyle.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Nothing-2-cropped-300×154.jpg” width=”300″ height=”154″ /></a> Sunset in Wyoming

<span style=”font-size: medium; font-family: helvetica;”>I have not shared in this article how deeply my life has been touched by living in Wyoming these past 18 years which is really why I am still living here.  You will have to read through my blogs on this website for that detail.  Suffice it to say that I love living in this state.  Wyoming has provided everything I was looking for in my search for a new hometown where I could live the lifestyle that embodied what I wanted to be when I grew up. </span>

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Kathleen Marinell
California born and raised, I am going on 20 years of loving life in central Wyoming. I am the proud mother of a wonderful 24-year-old son and the wife of a crazy guy who makes me laugh everyday. I spent many years in the technical world of computers but my entrepreneurial spirit has led me to crafting and traveling the state in retail sales, opening a hookah lounge, day trading, and Internet blogging & authoring. Life is good.
Kathleen Marinell
Kathleen Marinell

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