Romance on the (dude) ranch – a quintessential Wyoming Valentine’s Day story
By June Bonasera, County10.com
(Dubois, Wyo.) – What do Fremont County residents and married couples Monie and John Finley, Mollie and Hunter Sullivan, Kathy and Steve Mecum, and Emile and Conner Cardall all have in common? Yep, each couple met while working at dude ranches in Wyoming- and those are just a few of the couples we know about.
Monie and John Finley met while Monie, hailing from Marin County, California, worked as a wrangler at the Bitterroot Ranch east of Dubois in 1983. John was “the cowboy next door” at the Finley Ranch who happened to visit by horseback at the neighboring Bitterroot Ranch where the two were introduced by ranch co-owner Mel Fox. A romance ensued over a number of years and they married in 1988. The couple now manages the Finley Ranch, part a 100 year old ranch owned by John’s grandfather, William Dunkin, in what was known as Little Scotland in the upper East Fork of Dubois.
Mollie and Hunter Sullivan both grew up in small towns in Louisiana that were approximately 45 minutes away from one another, but never met until they both were working at the Spotted Horse Ranch, south of Jackson Hole in 2005. Mollie was the supervisor of kitchen and housekeeping services, Hunter was ranch operations manager. A romance developed, along with marriage in 2006, family and after a brief move back to Louisiana, they are now the managers of Dubois’ CM Ranch. Mollie recognizes the sparkle in eyes of a few of her staff and noted, “what better way to get to know someone than working together on a ranch”.
Kathy and Steve Mecum met in 1974 at the Wind River Ranch in Dubois. Kathy performed cooking duties at the ranch and on pack trips and Steve worked as a wrangler. According to Steve, “Kathy’s specialty on the ranch was strawberry shortcake and after one taste of that I was completely smitten”. He added, “she had me hook, line and sinker”. After marrying, the couple worked for CM Ranch where Steve became head wrangler and livestock manager and Kathy became head cook. The Mecum’s now own and manage Steerhead Ranch in Crowheart.
Emile and Conner Cardall met while both worked at T Cross Ranch in Dubois and and after 2 summers working together, married this summer at the ranch. Conner is a veteran wrangler, and Emile, part of the housekeeping staff. The couple enjoyed a honeymoon riding out of the ranch to Five Pockets; a Wyoming ‘Staycation’ of sorts. The details of their romance and inspiration for this story appeared on the T Cross Ranch’s blog ‘View O’ the Dude’: http:// tcross.com/blog/page/7/
It seems that one can learn a whole lot about a person by working side by side with him or her for a summer or two at a dude ranch. A couple can observe how each interacts with people and horses, learn about trust, teamwork, appreciate each other’s sense of humor and what one is like day in and day out while working at in that environment. Tight jeans, chinks and cowboy gear help in the process too.
So for all you single folks on Valentines’ Day looking for romance, why not contact a Fremont county dude ranch for employment opportunities this summer-you just never know where it might lead.