EP 010: Driving all of Wyoming, S to N.
There are incredible places in the middle of nowhere.
Inspiration hits you where you least expect it.
As you well know, the journey towards building a Pleb Citadel included selling a property in New Orleans.
If it was 8 years ago, when I was in the depths of my rugged startup phase of life, I would be sitting on a stack of fiat and living in the back of a converted camper van with a mobile hot spot and a composting toilet, planning out cashflow models and scouting terrain.
However, it is not 8 years ago, and I’m recently married (hooray to me 🎉).
In the interest of staying married for a very, very, very long time, I suggested to my beautiful wife that we pick somewhere we’ve never been before and work remote for a week.
After throwing around a slew of mountain towns and building a few AirBnB wish lists (and watching properties get booked while we deliberated), I sent along the idea of heading up to Bozeman, Montana.
She bit. Neither of us had ever been.
We booked an apartment and left on Saturday morning.
Fortunately, our route included traversing the entirety of the beautiful state of Wyoming.
The initial Northbound ride from Denver to Cheyenne is uneventful.
You’re essentially passing an extended suburb of Denver until you hit Wyoming, and that’s about where the traffic finally lets up and the ranch views begin.
When you get into Wyoming proper, you can finally enjoy the vast rolling terrain, and the rise and fall of mountains out of your Western window take on a new form.
I’m considering land between Cheyenne and Casper, and to my surprise it is far more lush than I had previously thought. Large swaths of mostly dry and low grassed ranch land is interrupted by small towns that pop up around the rivers that flow towards the Mississippi.
The town of Wheatland, where we stopped for gas, is a fine example of this, quite arid in the surrounding terrain, but lush in the lowlands near the river(s).
Venturing North up I-25 from Wheatland you hit Glendo, Orin, and Glenrock before you get to Casper.
All of these small towns are based on similar logic.
Beautiful terrain, access to water, ample growing, ranch land in the areas between.
When we hit Casper (and stopped for lunch at the Branding Iron, downtown) we were surprised to find a decently sized oil town and an attractive main street.
It’s clear that Casper exists as a working town, but it surprisingly does not lack the amenities of any small American city.
Casper would be the last of what could be called a city before Bozeman, over 450 miles away.
Below you’ll find an LRA (Land Resource Area) map from the state of WY. This details the rough quality of the land based on the available rainfall, and as a result, the ability to ranch and grow on the acreage.
Roughly speaking, the higher the number the harder it will be to grow because of average annual rainfall (you need greater acreage per calf/cow pair to ranch on higher numbered lands). The red dot is approximately where Casper is, and the blue line is the approximate route we took when my wife suggested driving through Bighorn National Forest along the scenic byway.
Boy are we glad to have taken the scenic route.
To say I was shocked by our turnoff at Buffalo towards the town of Ten Sleep would be an understatement.
My historical experience of traveling through extremely remote regions of the country (Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Kentucky, Vermont) all involved passing through high poverty, low production areas.
Imagine my surprise, when descending through the Canyon on the Cloud Peak Skyway of being met with lush terrain and ample well kept ranch homes 100s of miles from the nearest town.
A quick Zillow search of Ten Sleep, WY will offer you a few million dollar homes abutting the Nowood River with enough acreage for a small homestead and ready access to water.
While these properties are not within my scope for Citadel Building (they all include relatively large houses), they were still a welcome surprise. The impression given is that WY, even at its most remote, is a state where individuals appreciate and steward their home and the lands around them.
These are the kinds of people I want as neighbors.
The remainder of our day long drive up to Bozeman included many more pockets of well kept land, and we were glad to see that the people of WY emphasized caretaking, even in the furthest flung corners of the state.
We’ve arrived in Bozeman and in our off hours are exploring the town and surrounding area. I’m eager to share a bit more of what I’ve learned from this small city (hint: we went to an astoundingly well run campsite/hot spring), but that’s all for this episode of Building the Pleb Citadel.
I hope you enjoyed this update! I’m enjoying the process of getting my thoughts and planning down, and hope you’re excited to build your own Citadel (or are actively in the process of learning and building.)
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