I ran into Gareth a few days ago at the Cowboy Café. Over breakfast he was working on a draft of a white paper.
“There are more technology choices than ever before,” it reads, “but little certainty around which are the best investment.” Not the kind of thing you’d expect to find someone poring over in a restaurant by that name in a remote Wyoming mountain town. But I wasn’t surprised. This is the new Dubois.
I know that most technology workers still go into concrete-block offices every day, and that the bright millennials who crowd the digital world prefer big cities with microbreweries and “coworking spaces.” But I also know that a fortunate few are finding their way here, where they can see mountains from their desks and find bald eagles and moose to post on Instagram. Gareth is one.
I met him last summer at a community meeting. I introduced myself to his wife Sharon, and was startled to hear her reply: “You want to meet my husband.” During the careful process of planning their relocation from Colorado, she had seen this blog and knew of my interest in telecommuting.
The first step in investigating Dubois, Gareth told me this week, was contacting DTE, our Internet provider. This wasn’t so crucial for Sharon, the former head of a private school in Steamboat Springs. But it’s essential for Gareth, who is an information architect with a firm that provides cybersecurity services for large corporations around the world. His work demands peerless high-speed Internet, and the fact that DTE provides fiberoptic service in town was a strong selling point for Dubois.
Colorado’s new marijuana law was a prime reason for the relocation, Gareth told me. They had grown weary of Steamboat Springs, because it had quickly changed “from a funky family town to being party central.” This echoes what I’ve heard from tourists in Dubois over the past year: Traffic (the ordinary kind) is building in the state to the south, and it’s no longer easy to find a campsite on the spur of the moment there, or an uncrowded spot in those high Rocky Mountains.
It’s only a six hour drive north through Baggs and Rawlins to reach Dubois, but for Gareth and Sharon, the trip took far longer. Finding their next home, Gareth said, required “a lot of traveling in our RV.”
Having lived in 17 other states, mostly in the East, Gareth had a fairly strong feeling for where he didn’t want to live. During our chat over breakfast, he recalled the daily commute that took place at 80 miles an hour. I get the picture.
They looked carefully at the West Coast. He kind of liked San Francisco, but Sharon hated it. They explored Oregon and Washington, but no place sat exactly right with them.
“We began to realize that the closer we got to the mountains, the happier we were,” Gareth said. “We could just feel it.”
What drew them to Wyoming, besides the mountains, was the fact that there are no taxes to speak of, and that the cost of living is generally low. But why Dubois?
“We’ve always liked small towns,” he said. “The fact that there’s no traffic. New York burned us out for that.”
They did look at Jackson Hole, but the sight of the real estate prices quickly inspired a look away. They drove over the Pass to Dubois, and came home.
“Dubois has everything Jackson Hole has to offer,” Gareth told me. “You just hop into the car, and you’re in the Tetons. It’s all great.”
The move offers Gareth plenty of opportunity to pursue his off-duty passion: photography. As for Sharon, she has joined two nonprofit boards here as well as setting up www.wyophoto.com, a website that sells images of Wyoming. It’s the source of the beautiful pictures on this page.
© Lois Wingerson, 2017
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