Post written by Mark Niblo, Marketing Director at Durvet | Long Distance Runner | Iowa by Birth-Kansas City by Choice
How often do you hear people say they want to get away from work but just can’t do it because they’re too busy or some other excuse they come up with to justify not taking time off?
I WAS that person. I would only get out of the office for a day or two at a time to attend industry meetings or shows and would still return to a stress-filled environment of tasks that had piled up while I was gone.
Conventions and work travel sound fun, but can be stressful with negotiations, entertaining people when you’re tired, spending time with competitors, or sometimes going with people you would never go on vacation with or spend your weekend around.
For many years I was asked to take a full week out of the office by Y-Tex (one of our vendor partners) to sleep on the ground, go without a shower, use an outhouse, camp miles off of a road only accessible by horseback, and spend a full week with several other people I might not normally do something like that with.
“No thanks” was my answer at least 10 times.
This past summer, I reluctantly said “yes” and spent a week on what turned out to be the trip of a lifetime in Yellowstone National Park. On this trip with me were customers, suppliers, and competitors who I already spent time with in business settings.
We started our journey in Cody, Wyoming with a night in the historic Irma hotel. This hotel was built in 1902 by Buffalo Bill Cody and named after his daughter Irma.
Rumored to be haunted, I even spent a night in room 35, which is where the ghost is supposed to roam. Maybe the ghost appeared… maybe not. I was too sound asleep to hear anything due to a long day of travel getting to Cody.
After a day in Cody, a group of about 20 headed down to the park for a day of touring in cars to see the sights… just like all families with kids do…no big deal.
I got to see all the things you see on TV including Old Faithful as well as the beautiful but nasty smelling sulfur pits that will rot your skin off if you fall in. So far, it was what I would call “ok”.
What followed was what most people never get to experience. We climbed on horseback and packed six miles off the road to camp along Yellowstone Lake. I was asked many times if I had ridden a horse.
“Of course”, I always responded. But I didn’t tell them that I was probably 16 when I last mounted a fine steed. It was like riding a bike, right? It comes back quickly, right? Luckily for me, pack horses don’t require riding skills. They plug along slowly and just follow the horse in front of them.
We got to camp, claimed our shared tents and started enjoying what would become three of the most memorable days of my life. I connected with customers, suppliers, and competitors like I’d never done before.
You learn more about people and come to understand them when a lot of the conveniences of modern life are stripped away and you’re left with them and some of the most beautiful areas of the country that are untouched by modern “progress”.
Fishing, hiking, throwing horseshoes, and sitting around the campfires talking and hearing peoples’ stories can forge friendships that last a lifetime. No electricity, no internet, no cable TV, no newspapers, no modern bathrooms, no showers. NOTHING that distracts you from getting to know your fellow campers.
On the last day after we’d all started to get used to not having all the things we thought were necessary for survival, I crawled back on “Bud”, my newfound horse friend, and went back to town.
As I dismounted Bud and started to walk toward the car to take us back to the Irma hotel with all of its electricity, internet, cable TV, and newspapers, I paused and thought how I was going to miss the backwoods of Yellowstone.
I had truly just experienced the time of my life and I saw people I thought I knew in a whole different, and very good, way. I’d missed out for years…but I’m so glad I finally said YES to an experience I’ll never forget.