Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Wonderful Wyoming and the Daddy of 'em All!

I just returned home from the Cheyenne Frontier Days--what a great trip! Kelsea Walker, Miss Rodeo Illinois, and Kaytie Zuidema, Miss Rodeo Michigan, and I packed the Impala and headed west to Wyoming. There is no better way to get to know someone than on an 8 hour road trip, and by the time we returned to Iowa, we all felt like sisters--at least the type of sisters who get along with one another and do not fight!

While in Cheyenne we participated in a chuckwagon pancake cooking and acutally flipped the pancakes out of the wagon to the "catchers" armed with cookie sheets to land the hotcakes! I do have to say that I got pretty good at flipping the pancakes out of the wagon and relied on my ancient basketball skills to put some pretty fancy "english" (backspin) on the flying hotcakes! The rotary club sponsoring the breakfast tried to get me to sign a contract to come back the next year to flip pancakes, but I had to turn them down.

The Harry Vold Ranch provided the other state queens and I with beautiful, sleek, athletic, and fast black horses to do "fly bys" during the performances of rodeo. It was awesome! The arena is within a horse racing track, so we got to run our horses in front of the south grandstands on the homestretch of the track. The girls and I were there for three performances, and after each run I was ready to do it again! There are not many other things better than flying at full speed on a horse--that you know will stop when you want him to! I had a wonderful time at the rodeo and felt honored to be a part of it.

Katie Zuidema (Miss Rodeo Michigan), me, and Kelsea Walker (Miss Rodeo Illinois) sporting our beautiful Vold horses before the parade.

We were also able to borrow horses to participate in the rodeo parade throughout downtown Cheyenne. I felt very spoiled because each time we went to pick up our horse, they were already saddled! I would like to thank Kip, who works for the Vold Ranch, for the hard work he put it to get our horses saddled, looking great, and ready to go! I was lucky to get to ride Scar, a pickup horse, for the three days I was there! I would have gladly loaded the black bald-faced horse on a trailer and taken him back to Iowa with me!

During our trip we met many wonderful people including Karen Vold, wife of Harry Vold, who has great bucking stock every year at the NFR. We also met Bobbie Romer, a past bullfighter who was there trying to fight off the bull that struck Lane Frost and caused his death. We were honored to talk with Mr. Romer who has quite a colorful history himself in the rodeo world.

However, the one person who touched my life in so many ways and has given me a new outlook on life, is Arlene Kensinger. She is a past trick rider and trick water skier from Cheyenne who has been very instrumental in the advancement of the rodeo queen world. Arlene is the one all rodeo queens can thank for being considered an integral part of the rodeo and public face for the sport. She is a member of 5 different Hall of Fames, so I was honored to be in the presence of a living legend! Arlene lost her leg in a tragic accident 12 years ago, but because of her optimistic outlook and stately presence, one would never know. Thank you, Arlene, for being an inspiration to me to take whatever pitch is thrown at me and hit a homerun with it!

It always feels good to get back home, but Cheyenne was one place that was hard to leave. I was kindly hosted by Ann, Paul, Heather, and Justin Sanchez. They let me stay in their beautiful home and welcomed me in like one of the family. Heather and I start vet school together in Ames in August, so it was neat to get to know my newest study partner! I was sad to leave the Sanchez home, but glad to know that I will be seeing them again over the course of the next four years! Everyone from the rodeo committee went out of their way to make all of us state queens feel welcome! There is no question why the rodeo is the "Daddy of 'em All" and part of every cowboy song. Thank you, Cheyenne, for a memory of a lifetime--I will definitely return!

This week I will head to the Iowa rodeo very near and dear to my heart--the Sidney, Iowa Championship Rodeo! As always, I will be celebrating my birthday at the rodeo, so if you are in Sidney on Friday, August 3rd, you will have to stop by the McCarthy One Hour booth, who are one of my kind sponsors, for some birthday cake! After Sidney, I will be heading to the State Fair to show a steer for the Iowa Farm Bureau in the Governor's Charity Steer Show! I am SO excited and cannot wait because I have ALWAYS wanted to show a steer and now I have the opportunity. The steer's name is "Chopper" and have been told he is a looker, so watch out Governor Culver, Chopper and I plan on giving you and your steer a run for your money! The show is Saturday, August 11th at the best state fair in the nation, so come join us if you are able!