Explore WY {Big Horn Mountains}

My freshman year of college I scored a basement room in the freshman dorm. The rooms in the basement of the dorm were the biggest and pretty desirable, even with their tiny windows. Sometime early on that first semester a cute little Wyoming girl ventured down to the basement and shortly after a friendship was sparked. We were alike in a ton of ways and total opposites in just as many ways. Eventually she would become our class President and Chris was the Social President (not really a thing, but if it had been he would have been it). Then there was me. One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn’t fit in. I was that thing. I joke that Mandy and Chris knew every person on campus while I hid out in the art room. Honestly, they really did. Super social, friendly, warm and welcoming. Everyone loved them both and somehow I got to marry one and have the other stand at my side on that wedding day.

Quite frequently people will come up to Chris and I and start talking about going to college with Chris. They will laugh about college days and then inevitably ask where I went to school. Ummm…same small college as you two. I was just anti-social. Awkward silence and then I mention that I was the girl that could sometimes be spotted near the class president too. And still, awkward silence.

I spent many fall and spring breaks going back to Mandy’s home in Wyoming. To this day, it is still one of my favorite places. College wasn’t my favorite, but long weekends in the mountains during those days – those are the memories of college that marked me. Mandy’s family has a perfect A-frame cabin up in the woods. I creamed her brother Joe at a Monopoly game in that cabin once. He’s never been brave enough to play me again.  Game on, Joe.

We also spent many days climbing “Ant Hill”. We’d sit up there and talk about all kinds of stuff. I would sit up there and wonder about Chris and the future.

Last week we ventured back to that cabin as a family with Mandy’s family. Going back to places from the past with my family is so treasured to me. Amazing how perspectives can be so different in the exact same place just a few short years apart.

This year I followed my boys up ant hill and watched them experience it for the first time.

Little One on the top of Ant Hill.7.14bighorn-4

Between my 5 and Mandy’s 3, it looked like we were running a nature school in the Big Horns.7.14bighorn-3

Every hike requires a snack break.7.14bighorn-57.14bighorn-6

Our oldest girls became fast friends! I loved watching them together. Another generation of Okie/Wyoming girl friends.7.14bighorn-7

FireCracker found her favorite bathtub at the cabin too.7.14bighorn-87.14bighorn-107.14bighorn-11

On our way down from the cabin we had a trailer part break. Mandy’s parents dropped everything they were doing to help us. I’m pretty sure they would have just let us move in for a week if we needed it. I’m so thankful for old friendships. When that cute Wyoming girl bounced into my life (I’m quite confident she had to be bouncing), I had no idea the treasure I was being given. Spending time together with our families is a gift I don’t take for granted and I look forward to when we get time together again. Being friends with the President is pretty great.

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  • Mary - I am often amazed at the way God works at putting the pieces of our lives in place! Most of the time we don’t recognize the beauty till we are looking back! Thanks for sharing your photos, your family and the beauty of your life! Ain’t God Good!! Also thanks for reminding me of our childhood ‘summer tub’. We would sometimes fill the washtub with cold water in the morning and wait for the sun to warm for an afternoon ‘dip’. Fun times – precious memories!!

  • Mek - Such lovely and amazing pictures, and Little One eating is the cutest! And Firecracker is one beautiful little lady 🙂 Love her smiles

  • Erin H - If my husband and I would have been in college together it would have been the same way. He is totally outgoing and I am very quiet and reserved. He gets all the attention he wants and takes it all off of me and I am 100% good with that! It works for both of us 🙂

  • Kimberly Oyler - I love this.

  • rachelzana - I love this post. I can really relate to being introverted, quiet and not someone who a lot of people remember. The past few weeks I have been treasuring some of the amazing friendships in my life too, all so different and all so special.

  • Cassidy - All of your pictures are beautiful, of course, and I’ve loved reading all about your adventures but LITTLE ONE IS EATING WITH A SPOON (or something. not a smoothie. let’s go with that.) AND IT’S JUST LIKE A NORMAL THING. No hype. No cheering (pictured, at least). I’m so dang proud of that little girl. I saw the post about the cupcake and was super excited for her (and you), but this just seems like such a spur-of-the-moment thing… snack time and a utensil. Wow. Awesome. Just had to share (:

  • MrsFun - So glad it warmed up for you guys. And It tickles me to see little one eating apple sauce with a spoon.
    Between my 2 best friends and I we have 16 kids, we often get asked if we are running a camp when we get them all out together.

  • Kristin S - Such a well-told story, Ashley. I felt like I was there! Kinda sad you didn’t love college, though.

    And… Little One with a spoon and applesauce!!

    I’m driving a few hours later this week to see my college bestie. She has five boys ages 10 to 17. As they’ve gotten older, it’s a lot harder to get together – sports get in the way! Anyway, there’s just nothing like it. I went home with her a lot and have great memories from her parents’ home. Now you’ve made me even more excited for my little trip on Thursday.

  • Eva - My hubby and I are the same way (and he was president of his high school). It’s so great that you and Mandy have remained friends over the years. What a treat for your families to share some memory making together. Beautiful shots as always.

  • Lisa - College friendships – nothing like them! My favorite photo is the one of Little One eating applesauce. I’m sure you’ll never take that for granted either. Such a strong girl!

  • Amanda - So, I would love to know how the camper is doing for you guys! My hubby and I are actually considering going to look at a 30 foot 1968 Avion that looks very similar to yours! (I threw it out there kinda lightly, but the truth is I’m more than slightly obsessed with this thing!)

  • AshleyAnn - Cassidy – I know! It is so ‘normal’ now for her to eat with a spoon. Sometimes I sit back and watch her and marvel at how we are finally at this point. So thankful!

  • Mandy - Ah friend, the time went by too quickly and we would have loved to have you guys stay for a month! I am so very thankful for you and your precious family and love that our kiddos had so much fun together and got to build start building memories with one another.
    I’m so glad that Joe embraces his defeat…. finally, after all these years! 🙂
    Love you girl and truly, you are a gift from the Lord!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - I just love these stories. Just awesome! What a treasure!

  • Emma Rose - As a shy college student, it is so encouraging to hear this part of your story–how God has used you with your different gifts and is carrying out his plan for your life. It gives me such hope!

  • rose - Yup, that picture of Little One eating just did me in. Am I late to the party? When did she start that? I am so happy!

  • Amy D - I just simply LOVE that Little One is eating that applesauce {?) with a spoon like a boss! So happy for her triumph!

  • AshleyAnn - Rose – she started eating pureed foods from a spoon earlier this year!

  • susie - It’s been fun following your trip… and now you made it to our stomping grounds! We live in Gillette and head to the Bighorns any chance we get too! Too bad winter lasts so long and summers are short. Fun photos! By the way we just got back from Colter bay and it was swimming weather the whole time we were there! Next time you will have to go in July!