Big Horn, Wyoming

On the road again, this time en route to Montana! This adventure involves both Dan and my mountain bikes — but more on that complicated adventure tomorrow.

Before we could get to Montana, we had a lot of Wyoming to cover.

We passed through Cheyenne and Casper before finding ourselves in the Sheridan/Bighorn area. We had nearly decided to stop by the Battle of Little Bighorn National Monument, though we had already visited the site twice in the past few years.

At the last moment I suggested we follow the (many, many) signs to the Brinton Museum instead. I imagined we could kill an hour or so.

When we pulled up, we both realized we had underestimated the Brinton. While the art collection was once showcased entirely within Bradford Brinton’s ranch house (more on the house later), in 2015 a sizable gallery was erected nearby on the ranch grounds.

The new Forrest E. Mars, Jr. Building now hosts the Brintons‘ collection of the artwork of the west, including gads of work by Hans Kleiber and Frederic Remington, as well as art celebrating the American Plains Indians.

The ground floor is dedicated to a rotating exhibit; Dan and I were both very moved by Gauchos & Cowboys by Esteban Diaz-Mathé.

On the top floor we had a chance to admire intricate leatherwork, which is not an art I am intimately familiar with. We would have a chance to learn much more about this craft later in the day.

We finished our gallery visit just in time to join a tour of the Brinton Ranch House, a sweet 1930s residence on the Quarter Circle A Ranch. Brother Bradford and sister Helen had an agreement saying that whichever outlived the other would continue to own the ranch. Bradford passed first. Our tour guide pointed out specific rooms, such as the dining room below, that reflected more of Helen’s style than Bradford’s.

It seems that Bradford was more about books (as below) than about formal dining. I can relate.

One final twist for our day: our guide suggested that we visit the leather shop in the adjacent building on the ranch campus. We poked our heads in, expecting a kid-friendly exhibit on leatherwork. Instead we met Jim Jackson, apparently a leathersmith of great renown. Jackson spent his entire career creating gorgeous saddles at the nearby King’s Saddlery, and in his retirement continues to dream up his own combinations of paint and leather (such as those showcased on the museum’s top floor) and spends a few afternoons teaching leatherwork to anyone who wanders into the workshop. We quickly lost track of time.

Dan and I have been traveling together long enough to know that the things you plan for are rarely as fun or interesting as the things you stumble upon along the way. Such was the case with the Brinton (and especially the leather workshop), and such would be the case the next day when we finally reached Montana…

Hello, gorgeous.
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