A Wyoming Man and His Llamas

“But I know I’ve got one thing I got to do, Ramble On! And now’s the time, the time is now. To sing my song! I’m goin’ round the world, I gotta find my girl, on my way! I’ve been this way ten years to the day, Ramble On!” – Led Zeppelin

There are endless options for camping in the mountains. Though they are more crowded now than ever due to COVID and people’s desire for getting away. From campsites that are well taken care of and cost between $15-30 a night to the forested access sites that are free and typically offer more solitude you can find whatever camping vibe you’re looking for. Still though, there are people everywhere. In fact, this little town of Estes I’m in has a population of 12,000 people. (I’m basing this off a conversation with a 40-year local to the area whom I met at the dog park. He said this quaint little town in the mountains expects 4 MILLION tourists this year due to COVID! In fact, the National parks now have timed slot reservations if you want to go in between certain hours of the day. I think it’s around 7am-6pm they are like a week and a half out! Crazy. Something to consider if you make a National Park trip anytime soon. Though you can beat the crowd and reservations if you get there before 7am. Early bird gets the worm ;).

All the campsites are filled and the van lifers/campers can be seen everywhere. Even forested lands known more for their solitude have even become packed with other people (granted I’m one of those other people this is just my perspective). The worst is by far the weekends though. During the week you’ve still got peace and quiet. But like clockwork on Friday those who live in the city exodus to the mountains for retreat. Typically everyone is cool, but sometimes there are some obnoxious ones. People who come out to throw rage parties into the early hours of the morning and leave their trash in the woods, nah I’m not with that. You never know what you’re gonna get though.  Certainly adds to the excitement of it.

            Makes for meeting random new people too. Those who grace you with a story your own imagination wouldn’t make up. That’s how I met Terrance. Terrance from Wyoming.

            I had an energetic vibe around the evening. I had a great workout and came outside to the makings of a gorgeous sunset. I could tell it would be an eventful night. And I was right.

I stopped at the one of two grocery stores in town that has the chocolates I’m a fiend for and I was standing next in line to check out. Appropriately it’s a quiet and calm store in the mountains. Solid old jams play lightly overhead. Everything is priced 50% more expensive than it would be an hour down the mountain back in society. The gentleman before me had come in to buy one thing, cutips. As he passed them over the counter to the clerk, the man working the register made my night.

            It’s probably one of those things you had to be there for but either way.. In an excessively loud indoor voice the clerk said “AHH CUTIPS, THAT’S IT?! Hell I’ve always used toothpicks. They used to say it’s bad for ya but you can’t tell us old folk that! CAN YA?!” I couldn’t help but laugh. The irony. Rick Flair here has been cutipping his ears with toothpicks his whole life. You don’t say. I enjoyed that comedic gem and reassured myself, bless it I’m in the mountains now!

            It was my second night staying in the forested spot I was at, when I got back I had a neighbor. A big, grey diesel Dodge Ram with a camper on it. It had an old school vibe to it, I dig. No sooner than I could park, let Duke out and start grabbing things from the SUV did the driver of that Ram start walking his way over. Basically bald(ing), an average sized guy he looked to be in his late 40’s early 50’s. Duke gave his initial half growl/bark to any figure he’s not sure of approaching our territory. They typically stop. The first words out of the man’s mouth were, “Do you believe in God?” Ohhhhh boi I said to myself. This is gonna be fun.

            Thinking ‘My names Cody nice to meet you too’ I replied, “I do. I believe in Gods actually.” He laughed. This is going even better than expected! Nothing friendlier than religion or politics to drum up a conversation!

            Turns out Terrance is extremely religious, wouldn’t have guessed. Like that’s all he wanted to talk about, religious. I have my own faith as well. I believe having faith gives you something to hold onto at all times. Good and bad. Though times aren’t really good or bad, they just are. But I certainly don’t believe there’s any right or wrong faith. Everyone is different and everyone believes what they feel. It makes us beautifully different. But what I’ve never been a fan of are those believers who are so closed minded into downsizing someone else’s beliefs and then try to force theirs upon you. Noo, no. That’s about as cool as stepping in dog poop.

            Terrance is one of those kinda people. Not too concerned with other opinions it’s just his way or the highway.  My opinions were just wrong. Don’t ya love talking to people like that? I’m about as patient as they come. Petty things are just that, petty. Not worth the energy. But after about a half hour of incessant talking over me Terrance had to be checked so he would open his ears as well.  Then we finally started having good conversation.

            We couldn’t have disagreed on much more though. If 30 bullet points were listed we probably agreed on two of them. But those opposing viewpoints can offer so much value. Differences lie in perspective. The difficulty lies in not taking things personally, just respecting stories and vantage points that differ from your own. We had that established.

            Turns out Terrance is from Wyoming, where I’m heading next. It lined up perfectly for me to soak up some local insight before the trip. It often works out that way.  He delivers propane to homes and cabins that are off grid in the country. Be a pretty cool job honestly, riding around sight seeing to some Hendrix all day. He said he had a huge mountain lion jump across the road over the engine of his truck one time. Imagine. He offered some cool areas for me to check out and told me some things to expect while there. Preciate you Terrance, not so bad after all.

We got onto a favorite topic of mine, grizzly bears. Being a lifer in Wyoming he said as a kid you’d see a handful of grizzlies from the interstate all the time. They even threw bread and crackers out the windows to them. Before people learned that’s not a healthy habit for either party. Had to be sick though! The best highlight comes in Terrance’s hobbies.

            “So what do you get into out in Wyoming?” I asked him. “Oh I like rock climbing. And camping with my llamas. So I do both.” Wait, what. I’ve got a newfound itch for rock climbing as well, but that’s not what caught me up. “You camp with llamas?” Terrance is the first person I’ve met who camps in grizzly wilderness with llamas, sounds like some wildcody shit. I had to know more.

            Boomer, Cooper, Tim and Wiz. I can’t make it up. Those are the llama’s names. I was with him on the first three but once I heard Wiz I lost it. I tried calling his bluff but he stuck true to it. He pushes the bible heavy so I hope he’s telling the truth.

I learned all about Terrance’s llamas. How stubborn they can be on rope when they don’t want to move, collectively. Imagine, you’re ready to get rolling for the day and your four 250 pound llamas say nah, we’re gonna sun bathe a little longer.

            But hey they carry all his gear wherever he wants to go. So sick. Camping, hiking, climbing, food all of it carried by your gang of long necked quadrupeds. Once he told me they carried everything llamas really leveled up in my mind. They sound wicked cool. I have this image of a dog/horse hybrid and I laugh every time I think about it. I’m the one who carries extra gear and food on hikes for Duke, what’s going on here. But me, Duke, and a llama I’m with it. I’d name him Leroy. Leroy the llama.

            Terrance said they are pretty much great watch dogs, though not much for protection. I was nearly in tears laughing when he impersonated their distress call if they get spooked at night. The most monotone and submissive, “Mehhhhh” I’d ever heard. “What do they sound like again Terrance?” I had to hear him do it again. And I laughed twice as hard the second time. I NEED a llama! “MEHHHH!”

He said at night he ties down three of them and rotates a fourth to roam free. “Why do you do that?” I asked. The fourth would never leave the other three and would get to enjoy freedom for the night…..I see you Terrance. 

He had an exciting story to tell of a time he and one of his buddies were camping with Boomer, Cooper, Tim and Wiz. lol. His details were very unique with his Wyoming twang. Long, drawn out words carrying out the last syllables in everything he said. Like a less flashy Matthew McConaughey, the Wyoming version. Terrance and his buddy had a grizzly come up on camp in the middle of the night, no doubt awakened by Leroy’s cousins letting out collective, “MEHHHHHS!” Good llamas!!

He said he fired his pistol in the air and it scared the grizzly off, no doubt one of the llamas would have been dinner with one swipe. One of the only two things we agreed on was carrying a .45 out there. He was a pain at first, but ended up alright in my books. Preciate the content!

It’s wild, the people you meet on the road. Stories you’d never hear elsewhere. God(s) bless it I love it, RAMBLE ON! Love you all!

Instagram @wildcodylife stay tuned | email wildcodylife@yahoo.com

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