I enjoyed this article so much that I wanted to share it.  by Ron Loretti of The Skinnie Magazine   A little change of pace this time: I took a break from profiling active and former military men and women and headed west. I drove my car across the country and back, stopping to play cowboy a bit along the way. My two favorite western states are Oregon and Wyoming, for different reasons. Oregon: My daughter, Leslie, lives there, and 28 months ago she and her husband, Eddie, became the proud parents of little Rudy, our only grandson. What makes this exceptional is the fact that Leslie was slightly on the long side of 40 and never thought she would become a momma. But she did, and Rudy is now a new joy added to our family tree. Understandably, we now visit Oregon as often as possible, in spite of the fact that the only states farther away from Georgia are Washington, Alaska and Hawaii. Delta Airlines is happy about Rudy, too. Then there’s Wyoming. I used to hunt there almost every year, trekking over the southeastern mountains and prairies of the Cowboy State in quest of antelope, deer and elk. I became permanently captivated by the relaxed-yet-pioneering spirit of the people and the wide-open spaces. I loved the contrast to the hustle and bustle of my industrial and commercial world east of the Mississippi. As I got older, the hunting took a backseat to family, business and other pursuits. But I always knew I’d head back to Wyoming someday. With another visit to Rudy as motivation and the wilds of Wyoming still beckoning, I tossed a suitcase into my convertible and headed northwest on I-16. I would make the cross-country trip by car – age (mine) and distance (long) be damned. Six days later, I pulled up in front of Leslie’s house in Portland. My daughter and her young son were sitting on the porch waiting for me. Rudy did not seem shy around a grandpa he sees only every so often. It was a great visit – the zoo, parks, restaurants, playtime, sightseeing. The sun even shone occasionally, in spite of the Pacific Northwest’s well-earned reputation for rain. A few days later, I put the car on I-84 and headed toward Wyoming, the second part of my journey. A thousand miles later, I arrived in Saratoga, Wyo., an authentic western ranching, hunting, fishing and cowboy town, little changed from my visits there a few (or more) decades ago. It still has a saloon with swinging doors, wooden floors, a long antique bar and hitching posts outside (although instead of horses, there were a couple of long-haul motorcycles waiting for their riders). One thing was noticeably different from the old days: The National Guard was in town sandbagging the low spots along the swollen North Platte River. Because of heavy rains and melting deep-mountain snowpacks, most rivers and creeks west of the Mississippi were at or near flood levels as I made my trip through the western states. The next morning I left for my final destination in Wyoming, the Medicine Bow Lodge, which is 22 miles west of Saratoga on a very scenic mountain highway. It is located in a secluded valley in the Snowy Range at the foot of the majestic Medicine Bow Mountains of southeastern Wyoming. The lodge’s sea-level elevation is 8,500 feet, with surrounding peaks, some still covered by deep snow in late June, clocking in higher than 10,000 feet. Medicine Bow Lodge is an activity-driven guest dude ranch that began 94 years ago as a basic hunting and fishing lodge. Today’s guests enjoy horseback riding (at all levels), fishing (in multiple lakes and streams), hiking, cookouts, overnight pack trips, skeet shooting, birding and various kids’ programs. Or nothing at all for those who just want to lie back and take it easy in one of the most beautiful areas of the West.  (read more)