The Great Project

The Great Project!
There will be physical and mental hard work, sore muscles, cleaning to do, tears to be shed, and a plan for every move made. But in the end, it’s going to go down! 
We bought a home, will be selling ours, and are moving to Ten Sleep, Wyoming! Maybe you thought I was talking about a climbing route, but this project will be the greatest of all. Living the dream!
Valhalla area, Ten Sleep Canyon climbing. Gear provided by Mad Rock Climbing and Stonewear Designs.
One of the benches we made to beautify and comfy the crag.
… Dreaming Big…
Standing in front of the ranch, my eyes peering past the locked gate, I wondered if we could simply slip through and take a look. Then my husband pulled over the top of the custom emblems that sat between the top and second bar down. Sitting on the fence, he always has a way of pushing me over the other side of it. 
Hopping the fence, Louie is standing at the front gate while I’m at the end of the drive by the house.
On our drive out of Ten Sleep Canyon in the Big Horn National Forest we stopped initially to enjoy the view of the apple orchard in front of the ranch home, but we also noticed a ‘for sale’ sign. A few years ago Louie planted a little seed in my head, that one day grew into a tree, and I’ve decided to plant that tree in Ten Sleep, Wyoming.
More apples than we can possible eat (sharing is caring).


The front yard where most of the apple trees are located. Also on the property are plums, pear, and apricot trees. Also, lots of space for climbing campers…
The ‘hustle and bustle, never slow down, make that money, live and die in traffic and smog’ life of a southern Californian has worn us both down. It pains us to drive almost 2 hours to visit family less than 30 miles away. In full disclosure fashion, Louie said from the beginning of our relationship that he’d move out of So Cal one day. After my last grandparent passed this year I let that seed sprout. Family is what matters the most to me, and as long as I have them close by, and visiting regularly, I’m a happy lady! Louie promised visits from my parents, brother, and his two girls. A young sapling was born.
There we were, technically trespassing, but if the deer roaming the yard didn’t mind, we supposed the owner wouldn’t either. Especially if we actually called the number on the sign and made inquires with interest. A low two car garage, and a high RV garage sat aside from the house. Peeking into the windows gave us the first idea about the work on this property. A John Deer seated mower for the 2+ acres of grass in the yard, and a snow mobile and tractor for plowing that snow in winter, all sat idle. Snow, trees, seasons! A-mazing!
Neighbors visiting every morning and evening to eat the fallen apples and mow the lawn.
A two story, three bedroom, back porch sitting home perched on the crick’s bank. That’s crick, not creek out here! With all the shutters and shades drawn we only imaged what it was like inside. The property had a railway car base for a bridge over the Ten Sleep crick (many homes in the area have the same). A second, and smaller orchard wrapped around the back corner of the land, with a leaning chicken coop currently the squatting homestead to a doe. In the front yard we found a stream running all the way across, pulled directly by a pump from the crick to supply the house. 
The front of the home.
It began innocently. Talks about coffee on the back porch, listing every apple dessert you could make, and friends coming to visit during the climbing season! We walked away, back to the car, and headed home a few days after. Flying away from Wyoming felt sorrowful. Leaving that big blue sky land and all that climbing behind was alarmingly devastating. Landing in California, the traffic and smog just where we had left it, brought us to buy return tickets that day. Six weeks later we were coming back, for our greatest project…
The back of the home, with the creek flowing year round.
… Realizing… 
Secretly, the weeks before our return were filled with house cleaning, yard duties, and purging non essentials to the Salvation Army. I sent three bags of professional clothing to Working Wardrobes in Irvine, laying down my career as a teacher, putting that dream to rest, and finally finding peace and closure. We consulted with a realtor, made a Long (capital L) list of To Do’s, and gathered our mortgage paperwork. The numbers added up, and the property could be ours, for the right price, as they say. Weeks of agonizing and preparing came down to September, and our return to Wyoming.
Sherry, our Ten Sleep realtor, did all her homework and we felt confidant this would be our new life. First stop was to her office, where she gave us the low down on the town. There’s yoga everyone! Yoga! In Ten Sleep! A local teaches classes. Ten Sleep has a community center, a splash pad at the end of town, local library, yearly rodeo, two veterinarians, and the friendliest people around to tell you all about it. We ate every meal in town, and became the new local gossip as soon as we mentioned moving there.
Sunset in Ten Sleep, Wyoming.


You can climb until past 9pm in the summer and 7pm in late fall.
We headed off to the property for our first look inside. I am not exaggerating when I say that we’ve walked back in time to the 70’s. The home has so much potential, with a few light fixture updates, new cabinet staining and handles, some fresh furniture, and updating the appliances to this decade would do wonders. For the time being the condition is impressive and very clean for the age of the home. The previous owner passed over 13 years ago, and his children have used the home infrequently since. In fact, two horses were parked in the yard to mow the lawn for a week. That’s the most action the house has seen that month.
One of my favorite parts of the 70’s themed home, an herb container that runs a good length of the kitchen counter. 
Our sole mission in returning to Ten Sleep this time was to find and buy a home. After a few back and forth offers we struck a deal with the owners, and currently are in contract! That means, in the next few months, buttoning up our life in California. The most challenging of all will be saying good bye to all the wonderful friends we have and buying some extra winter layers. 


We even had a little snow higher up in the forest.
The gym will still be up and running. We have a manager on board, who in all of our recent absences has run the show without us very smoothly. There will be a send off, and every holiday season Louie and I will be back to celebrate Christmas and the girl’s birthdays. February is the coldest month on record for the town. We plan to travel mostly, as the state (and many nearby) have amazing climbing opportunities awaiting us. Wyoming calls to climbers, hunters, fishers, hikers, geologists, bird watchers, Yellowstone lovers, and outdoor enthusiasts in general. To our friends and family, Louie and I look forward to seeing y’all visit us in the future! To everyone else, if you mosey through Ten Sleep be sure to catch us breakfast time at the Crazy Woman Cafe, lunch time at Dirty Sally’s mercantile, and dinner time at the Ten Sleep Saloon (the only three places in town to eat). See you at the crag! 
Farewell Ten Sleep, see you soon!
Stay Adventurous,


Valarie & Louie
A few last photos from the trip…
Several new routes put up on this wall, bolted by Louie.


Climbing one of his new routes in another section.


Beautifying the slope and making it easier to belay from.


Another Louie master piece. Pants by Nihil Clothing.


One last adventure before we headed out. A night in a sheep herder wagon from 1896.


Interior of the sheep herder wagon. Insulated and heated.

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