devils tower

Under Wyoming Skies

wyoming plate

grand tetons

Description: Kelly McKinnon, a successful store manager in Pennsylvania, takes her two children on an extended vacation to her cousin's ranch in Wyoming. Lauren and Roy take quickly to ranch life, learning how to ride well as they help their cousin with the daily chores on the ranch, tending cattle and horses. Kelly and the children become friendly with the Strong Bear family, Cheyenne Indians who live and work on the ranch. Their duaghter Kimi Strong Bear soon teaches Lauren everything she needs to know to become a good horse woman. The two young women quickly become close friends. Roy gets drawn into the challenges of ranching, gaining a new mature outlook on life.When the family visit the Cheyenne reservation in southern Montana at the invitation of the Strong Bear family, they get a new perspective on both the beauties and challenges of life among members of the tribe.

While the two youngsters learn more about ranching, Kelly finds herself attracted to Dave, a visiting professor from the University of Wyoming who spends the summers working on the ranch. Having been divorced for some time, she may be ready to begin a new romantic relationship. Dave's friend Brian visits the ranch, and Kelly finds herself drawn to him as well. Her romantic possibilities get more interesting, and complicated. Not that she minds!

Kelly, Roy and Lauren attend a championship rodeo, help with branding day, a ritual of ranch life, and participate in moving herds of cattle and caring for horses They find themselves unexpectedly hooked on the life they are experiencing. Developments back at the store in Pennsylvania open possibilities for Kelly. She soon begins to wonder whether she and her children can really leave Pennsylvania, where she has lived and worked all her life, and start a new home under Wyoming skies.

This story emanated from the trips my wife and I made to Wyoming, where we visited the ranch owned by Pete and my cousin Harriet Groeschel, whose watercolor onthe right is on the cover.

We stayed at their lovely home in Dubois, high up in the Wind River Mountains, and on their ranch in Gillette. While at the ranch we got a firsthand look at how they dealt with the challenges of breeding and raising cattle. We had some interesting experiences with the cows, who sometimes wondered up close to the house.

The layout of the ranch in my story is based on the layout that actually existed on Pete and Harriet's ranch. Although Paul and Heather, the ranching couple in the story, are so named as a tribute to Pete and Harriet, I have not based any of their characteristics on my relatives. What they have in common, however, is that they are all very nice people.

I am grateful to Harriet for her comments and suggestions on this book, which she read while it was still in progress. She was kind enough to point out some things that I had gotten wrong. For example, she told me that people generally don't learn how to ride horses on fillies--they generally learn on over there, well trained horses, usually mares. I am very fortunate to have had her assistance in writing this book.

croeschel image
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