Longmire Country in Person

Originally written on August 24, 2014

It started a few years ago … this obsession with a series of mystery novels.

I had read in the paper about a “new” TV series on cable called Longmire. Set in modern day Wyoming, a state that I have long had a fond relationship with dating back to living in Cheyenne back in the 1980’s, I decided to give it a try. Watched one of the episodes and was immediately hooked. The story … the acting … and especially the photography. Wow. I wanted more!
I quickly found out that the TV show was based on a series of books written by Wyoming’s own Craig Johnson. Soon after I started the first novel in the series, The Cold Dish, I quickly decided that I would spend last summer reading all nine of the books. Which I did … by the middle of July. One after another, the stories blended together into this wonderful tapestry of the life and times of Sheriff Walt Longmire and his family, his friends … and a few foes. Along the way, I also learned a great deal about the Northern Cheyenne tribe and their culture and traditions, a key part of Sheriff Longmire’s world.

Meanwhile, the TV show has just finished it’s third year and has garnered high ratings for a cable drama. The main characters are present in both the books and the shows, but follow differing story lines. The show has garnered a strong following among viewers and a very active social media presence. What really differentiates the show from other crime dramas is the writing, the acting and the photography. All are the best I have ever seen on television and rival what you’d expect from a major motion picture.

The show even has it’s own civic celebration …. Longmire Days.
Held for the past several years in Buffalo, Wyoming, the celebration highlights the world of Craig’s stories. Although the books (and the TV show) are set in a fictional county (Absaroka) and town (Durant), the city of Buffalo and the surrounding country are really the “home” of Longmire and his adventures. Many of Buffalo’s real word locales are in the books, including the Occidental Hotel, the Busy-Bee Cafe, and others. So, it just seems “right” to celebrate “Longmire Days” in Buffalo.

I drove from Tacoma, Washington, to Buffalo this year to partake in the celebrations. It was an amazing couple of days that reminded me of all of the wonderful people and places in America that are virtually ignored by many on both coasts. Buffalo is truly in “flyover country” but is truly well worth the time to visit.

The town went all out to welcome Longmire’s fans.
On Friday evening, there was a street dance in the small downtown area. The live band played the night away and several of the show’s cast members dropped by to mingle with the audience. No “Red Carpet” lineup here!! Selfie’s were the order of the day!!

On Saturday, the cast setup in the town’s central park area and signed autographs for literally thousands of fans. Later that afternoon, a number of Cheyenne dancers entertained with traditional costumes and dances. (Many of these same dancers played guest roles on one of the episodes of the TV show this past season.) In the evening, there was a softball game between the Cowboys and the Indians. It was a terrific community celebration from start to finish.

Although the TV show is filmed in New Mexico, the Longmire Country near Buffalo is well worth a trip by itself. The Big Horn Mountains are nearby and beckon travelers to a more low key experience than Wyoming’s other tourist areas such as Yellowstone or Grand Teton Park.

The trip was terrific in every way. The people I met … fellow fans, Buffalo residents, and the cast of the show … were all warm and friendly people. The countryside … worthy of more time to explore.

Will there be another Longmire Days in 2015? Maybe. If the show is renewed for a fourth season … probably.

(Ed note: there will be a fourth season on Netflix and another Longmire Days in Buffalo in the summer of 2015)

But a visit to “Longmire Country” is well worth the time … anytime.

Some of my images from the trip:

http://minutemanphotography.smugmug.com/Summer2014/

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