I'm happy to be near the Winds again

Aug 30, 2012 By Katie Roenigk

It's not that we didn't like Idaho. It's just that we missed Wyoming so much!

My boyfriend, Cooper, and I left Fremont County last August when he was accepted into graduate school at the University of Idaho. I had been lucky enough to find a job at the local newspaper, the Moscow-Pullman Daily News. So we packed our bags and stuffed all of our possessions --including our Australian shepherd, Skye --into the car and happily headed west.

As we drove away, though, I felt the pull of the Wind River Mountains behind me. I was surprised, having grown up in the relative flatlands of Minnesota, to feel such a connection to a range of rock and wilderness.

But it was undeniable; there was even a lump in my throat. When would my eyes again feast on the backdrop that had framed my days since moving to Riverton?

The hills of the Palouse --the fertile region that has been our home for the past year --were gorgeous. Blazing yellow in the fall and lushly green in the spring, the prairie produces most of our country's lentils, a fact that is celebrated every year during the National Lentil Festival in Pullman, Wash.

Aside from the scenery, the residents of Moscow were some of the most welcoming, understanding and sincere people I have met. We joked with other newcomers that there must be something in the water that made everyone so happy.

Our neighbors were adorable, my co-workers were chums, and Cooper's classmates became a source of support and entertainment for us both. We were exposed to artists, students, professors and native Moscow-ites who shared engaging stories and were eager to hear of our experiences in "wild" Wyoming. It's safe to say we met some lifelong friends in Moscow.

We also took some amazing trips during the year to explore the Pacific Northwest region. But every time we mapped out a weekend vacation I found myself comparing the experience to our regular excursions in the Winds. For me, Idaho never measured up, and my eyes refused to grow used to what I considered less-splendid vistas.

When Cooper accepted a summer internship at the State Engineer's Office in Riverton and informed me that he could finish his last semester of school online, I jumped at the chance to return to Wyoming.

The Ranger graciously accepted my second application for a job, and I tied up loose ends at the Daily News as soon as I could. A week of packing and cleaning flew by, and we were in the car on our way back home.

When I drove through Wind River Canyon this summer and caught sight of that gap like a toothy smile beside Wind River Peak I felt my spirit soar. I'll always remember my amazement at the mountains when I first came to Riverton. Driving toward Lander in 2008, I couldn't believe how far the Winds stretched to the north, more than filling my windshield with their beauty. In the same way they will continue to fill my soul with joy every time

I see them on my daily walks to the river. Thanks for taking me back, Riverton. Feel free to stop by The Ranger and say hi if you have a chance.

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