How about this for contrasting views of Wyomingites, who have been in the national news lately?
A Wyoming doctor is famous for getting almost to heaven – and then returning home.
A Riverton Olympian is mentioned prominently on an NBC telecast.
A Worland photographer and a Jackson writer do the cover story for a major piece in National Geographic this past week.
And meanwhile, Craig Johnson’s Longmire character just keeps on getting rave reviews on Cable TV.
Whew! Keeping up with these folks is fascinating stuff.
First, is Dr. Mary Neal, an orthopedic surgeon who was featured on the Today Show July 19. She told her fascinating story how she had been under water and considered dead in South America during a kayaking accident over a decade ago. While under water, she vividly recalled being visited by angels and peeking inside heaven.
Her best-selling book To Heaven And Back has had her also on the Dr. Oz TV Show and on the Fox News Channel.
Her story is an amazing tale of someone who had an otherworldly experience, which foretold the death of her son, champion Jackson high school skier Willie Neal among other things.
My wife Nancy and I read her book and found her to be down-to-earth and absolutely sincere. This is one of the most amazing stories to come out of Wyoming in awhile.
• Last Sunday, Riverton native Brett Newlin was the only one of the eight rowers in his boat during the first heat of the race at the Olympics in London to be singled out by commentators.
He was mentioned by name and they talked about him being from Wyoming. Great to get publicity on the big stage.
When it comes to providing Olympians, Wyoming had more athletes, per-capita, than any other state. That sure is funny. California came in second. I think they had 36 or so?
Besides Newlin, Wyoming’s other Olympian was Cheyenne archer Jennifer Nichols.
I also miss the big guy, Rulon Gardner, of Afton, who was trying for his third Olympics but came up short in the trials. They have referred to him occasionally in the build-up to the games, but not much since.
• The latest National Geographic includes a cover story about the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
It is written by well-known author Alexandra Fuller of Jackson and the photos are by Aaron Huey, a Worland native. The feature covers 37 pages and is one the biggest spreads of its type done by NatGeo in some time.
Congratulations to these Wyomingites for some good work on a national scale.
• The hit cable TV series Longmire, based on books by Craig Johnson of Ucross, continues to draw rave reviews.
It is on the A&E network on Sunday nights. The constant references to Buffalo, Jackson, Casper and other Wyoming landmarks and icons sure gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling.
Plus Sheriff Longmire is just about as good a guy as you could portray on national TV.
With that said, Johnson has given him a major secret concerning some kind of crime event he was involved in down in Denver. Stay tuned.
• One of the more amazing places in Wyoming is the Medicine Wheel, high in the Big Horn Mountains above Lovell on US 14a.
The formerly 110-acre site was increased in size by a factor of 37x, as it became The Medicine Wheel/Medicine Mountain National Monument.
This occurred late last fall but I just learned about it. Seems like a great plan.
Considered America’s Stonehenge, it is truly a remarkable site located in an even more remarkable location. Very remote and very high up in the mountains.
Another of Wyoming’s treasures.
• Here in Lander, one of more ubiquitous scenes around town are empty Utah tourist buses. Lots of them. Most of them empty.
What the heck are they doing here?
The answer is that the buses have been bringing the faithful to re-visit the Mormon Trail, which covers the same area as the Oregon Trail.
Each summer, hundreds and even thousands visit places like Martins Cove, Rocky Ridge and other historical and sacred places to people of the LDS faith.
These folks recreate the Willie’s handcart journeys from Martins Cove to South Pass. There is a big encampment of trailers at Sweetwater Station. It`s their support while pushing those carts on the trail.