Monday, November 2, 2009

My "Aha Moment" Makes the Top 10

I received the following info from the Mutual of Omaha Aha Moment campaign staff this morning... "The final votes have been cast. Congratulations to our 10 aha moments, who will be included in Mutual of Omaha's 2010 TV commercials. Thanks to everyone who voted! We started with 75 aha moments, narrowed them down to 25, and finished with 10. And whether they made you smile, laugh or cry, our hope is that they inspired you to find your own aha moment."

I want to follow that by saying thanks to each of you who supported me in this effort and saw to it that I made the TOP 10! It has been fun to reconnect with old friends and make new ones throughout this process. I appreciate your vote and your commitment to forward this to friends and post on social networking sites.

It's going to be a great opportunity to get Wyoming into the homes of millions of viewers in 2010.

As more details develop regarding when my commercial will start to air, I will be certain to update so everyone can tune in.

Forever West–

Monday, October 19, 2009

Top 10 Finalist!

You've cast your votes and picked your favorites…THANK YOU for getting me to the final round!

We are one step closer to being included in Mutual of Omaha's 2010 TV campaign and getting Wyoming and the Western Lifestyle into the homes of millions.

The Top 10 of these 25 are the WINNERS!

Until October 31, you can vote for my Aha Moment. Simply click and vote for the Cowboy “Fighting For His Life” Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Be sure to spread the word...we're alomost there!

Again, thanks for your support.

Your Friend,

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My Aha Moment

It's been a busy summer and forgive me for not doing a better job staying in touch.

So many neat things have happened since my last blog and I will do my best to fill you in over the next month. Thinking back, there was Cheyenne Frontier Days, then a rodeo trail taking me to California. From there it was across the Atlantic to Europe, then back to climb Devils Tower! O yea, and then there's this nationwide search for the next Mutual of Omaha commercial I am cast for.

Many of you may know, I was recently cast for a potential nationwide commercial spot with Mutual of Omaha.

The campaign is known simply as ‘Your Aha Moment’; that moment when one realizes their passion and focuses their energy on inspiring others. As you can guess my Aha Moment focuses on rodeo and military service and how I’ve incorporated the two passions into one lifestyle.

Over 1,000 people were interviewed during a 25 state tour. Because of overwhelming response, Mutual of Omaha has selected the 75 semi-finalist that the general public will now vote for. The top 10 vote getters will earn a nationwide TV Ad featuring their Aha Moment starting early 2010.

I would like to ask for you to visit and vote for my Aha Moment. You can vote more than once!

The first round of voting is October 1-15. The Top 25 vote getters will move on to the final round of voting which will be open until October 31.

Thank you for voting and please forward to your contact list, myspace, facebook, etc!

Forever West

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Frank & Senses

Well, it’s time for actions to speak louder than words! Over Memorial Day Weekend I was introduced to a true rock climbing legend, Frank Sanders.

Frank is the owner of Devils Tower Climbing and is the most experienced Devils Tower climber on record. He has conquered Devils Tower in less than twenty minutes, climbed 22 hours straight, reached the top over a dozen times in one day and set the majority of courses climbers follow today.

During my initial meeting with Frank I was somehow roped into climbing the tower. If that’s not bad enough, I volunteered Jamie to join the fun.

I’ve been excited for this opportunity for a month now and when Frank asked me to show up at 7 a.m. the morning of July 5th I could hardly wait. We arrived at his place at 7 a.m. on the dot and I was raring to go. Jamie…not so much.

We were fitted with gear, warmed up on the training wall, and received our first lesson. The schoolhouse on Devils Tower would handle the next lesson. But for two hours as we trained on the climbing wall all I kept saying was, “Frank are we going to get to the top today?” Frank would consistently reply, “We’ll give it our best shot.”

As we continued our training Frank would say, “breathe.” “You can’t do pull ups all day” and other catch phrases that proved to be so true.

Guys tend to think big, work fast, measure success by winning, not learning, etc, etc and I didn’t show up to learn. I wanted to win. I wanted to stand on top of Devils Tower.

We loaded our gear and headed to what Frank calls the “schoolhouse.” It’s a column in Devils Tower that soars to the sky just like the other hundred columns but the schoolhouse has a moderate difficulty level and provides a perfect place for a second lesson.

Rock climbers measure difficulty using a scale of 5. - 5.14. According to the park service Devils Tower ranges from 5.7 -5.13. According to my experience the entire Tower is a 5.14!

Nonetheless, we hiked the walking path to the north end and trekked up the rocky base of the Tower. Along the way we passed many tourists and each one asked if we were headed to climb the tower. Jamie and I were nervous yet excited to say “Yes!” As we continued along the trail, Frank said “you know, everyone of those people is jealous of you.”

By this time it’s 9:30 a.m. and I’m as excited as a grown man in the Bass Pro Shop.

We unpacked our gear which basically included 250 feet of rope, climbing shoes, and a hard hat. Frank set the line and asked who wanted to be first. I’ll give you one guess who went first and a hint: it wasn’t Jamie.

As soon as I was tied in I set the tower on fire. Well, for at least ten feet. It was at that moment I knew what Frank meant when he said you can’t do pull ups all day.

As I struggled to get higher and higher my mind started to tell me something wasn’t right. I was working so hard and moving so slow.

I would yell down “You got me Frank?” about every ten feet until I got to the top of our first test run. When I stood on the small rock platform that was just big enough for two size 12 feet I had a feeling as if I was on top of Mount Everest.

Even at merely a quarter of the way to the top there was a sense of accomplishment as I was forced to stare down my fears. Rock climbing is a lot like bullfighting. They both involve fear and an opponent bigger than you.

For the next two hours Jamie and I would alternate climbing a run and rappelling down in an effort to get comfortable with the task at hand. Each course Frank set was harder and higher than the previous and truly tested my will to win as I inched closer to the set mark.

I didn’t stand on top of Devils Tower today but I didn’t back down from my fears either.

We are going back to the tower Aug 15th and I will climb for the top. I now have the knowledge to go with my determination.

Rock climbing gets a rap much like rodeo in that people say it’s crazy. But I encourage you to personally challenge that theory and put climbing Devils Tower on your bucket list.

I’ll wager to say you will learn rock climbing requires patience, endurance, confidence and perseverance - characteristics crazy people don’t have.

I certainly learned that much. But more importantly, Jamie and I made a lifelong friend.

Forever West,

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day ~ Wyoming Style

July is a busy month but as previously stated in my blog, Jamie and I decided to slow down long enough to enjoy the Fourth of July with my parents.

We are camping at Devils Tower KOA and loving every minute of it.

Today is a day of celebration for Americans across the country and if you’re in a big city, small town, or national park I bet pride in the USA is heartfelt this July 4th.

Devils Tower is located in the northeast corner of Wyoming in Crook County. Crook County covers 2,871 square miles of pristine landscape and has approximately 6,000 residents. There are no big city lights, theme parks or fancy theater shows.

The values of community, honesty, and friendship still exist here and were demonstrated during the annual Devils Tower Fourth of July bash held at the KOA.

At 6 p.m. we made our way to the free BBQ that is open to the public. While visiting with locals and travelers alike, talk of a fireworks show started to spread. Come to find out, the KOA not only hosts a free BBQ but also leads the charge for an over-the-top fireworks display held annually at 10 p.m. on Independence Day.
After eating we decided to walk into the national monument and try our luck photographing the tower at sunset. It’s a sight that everyone needs to experience. There is something about the tower that is inspiring and creates a feeling that is impossible to duplicate.

When night fell we made our way back to the camper and got ready for the fireworks show. We weren’t alone. You can imagine when entertainment is to be had in Crook County, people turn out.

I can’t say I did an official head count tonight but I can say with certainty the large majority of Crook County’s residents were lined up along the road waiting on the show. Cars were parked for miles along the roadsides, lawn chairs lined the ditches, kids squirmed in their parent’s laps, and many hearts were grateful to call America home.

The fireworks were so powerful campers shook, kids screamed with excitement and dogs ran wild. It was quite the display and just goes to show, you don’t have to live in the big city to have a big time.

Stay tuned as tomorrow I will try to conquer the tower with Frank Sanders of Devils Tower Climbing.

Forever West,

Third Time’s The Charm

Since our Memorial Day trip to Devils Tower I have tried to see the Vore Buffalo Jump.

Since the site doesn’t open until 13 June, I was too early Memorial Day. My hope was to see it when Jamie and I came back to climb Devils Tower. On Friday we set out to see the Vore Jump only to experience some scattered thunderstorms causing the site to be closed.

It’s an easy little trip from Devils Tower full of wildlife viewing opportunities and arguably some of the most pristine scenery in all of Wyoming. So we don‘t mind the getting there part...however, it was disappointing to strike out twice.

Good news is, third time’s a charm! Today we had a truly unique experience touring the Vore Buffalo Jump.

Wyoming as a whole has this feel of community. I‘ve seen this firsthand with the thousands of volunteers that put on the famous Cheyenne Frontier Days and experienced it with new neighbors who welcome you to the neighborhood with a homemade pie. After experiencing Vore site, I’m starting to believe that sense of community is bred into Wyomingites.

Vore Jump was used for over 300 years ranging from the 1500s-1800s by as many as five different Native American tribes often working alongside the other tribes (perhaps rivals on occasion) to harvest a winters’ supply of buffalo.

Today, visitors can see layer upon layer of buffalo bones as well as Native American arrowheads and tools, all preserved in pristine condition. Archeologists have been digging at the Vore Jump over 30 years reaching depths of twenty feet. Each inch of the way, remains and artifacts are perfectly preserved. An estimated 20,000 plus buffalo have been harvested where my feet stood today. How wild is that?

Perhaps what is even more mind boggling than the number of buffalo harvested is the method in which they were taken and the various uses the buffalo had in sustaining the tribes.

Vore Jump is merely a sinkhole in the earth - a resource that was vital to hunting large game before the introduction of horses. Working as a community the Natives (on foot) would herd mass numbers of buffalo toward the sinkhole and just before reaching the rim, a stampede would take them over the edge. The goal was simply to trap the buffalo below making the harvest more achievable. Once the animals were inside the bowl, shooters would take position around the upper rim and open fire, or should I say open fling?

The buffalo weren’t merely a source of meat. They were the livelihood for a people. Every bone with the exception of two neck vertebrae are said to have been used. Uses included: clothing, tools, medicine, containers and many more.

The Vore Buffalo Jump is a historical site capable of being a major educational and tourist attraction. The site is in its infancy of development but plans are in place to expand on this truly amazing Wyoming wonder. If you would like to get involved or financially support the Vore Jump check out their official site.

The moral of the story is simple: Community Matters.

Forever West

Friday, July 3, 2009

Wyoming Tourism is Alive and Well

Of all of the places I have been there is no place I’d rather be than Wyoming. As you know it’s the Fourth of July and we are headed to Devils Tower, Wyoming!

In route from Cheyenne, Jamie and I passed more travelers than normal and enjoyed playing the license plate game. You know the one where you try to identify a plate from each state? Well, I’m starting to think folks from all 50 states and Canada are headed to Devils Tower.

Around Wright, WY the weather turned dark and a rainstorm moved in. We managed to miss the heart of the storm but did experience some rain and wind. By the time we arrived at Wright it was time to stretch our legs and walk our dog. While there, locals told us we just missed a tornado and softball size hail.

Nonetheless, we were thankful we snuck by the storm and arrived at Devils Tower KOA as scheduled.

July is commonly referred to as “Cowboy Christmas” since numerous major rodeos are kicked off near the 4th of July. Wyoming plays host to a few of the best. Cody, Cheyenne, Casper and Sheridan all have July rodeos.

For 10 years now, rodeo has been the focus of my summers. This year however, I’ve decided to take the Fourth off and spend time with my family and take care of a little unfinished business. If you recall my last Devils Tower blog, I said Jamie and I were going to climb the tower with Frank Sanders, owner and operator of Devils Tower Climbing. Well, time has come to put my money where my mouth is.

I will still fight bulls at 10-12 rodeo performances this month but I’m relaxing this weekend. My parents drove in from Arkansas to spend the holiday with Jamie and me and there’s no better place to camp than Devils Tower KOA.

I’ve heard there is a big July 4th celebration at the campground so we’re here for the party and I will keep you informed.

Forever West