The landscape and lifestyle of the West has the power to capture the imagination, as Gary learned on one of his first car trips with his family. When I was 9 years old I came through Wyoming with my parents, and I told my mom, I am going to live out here someday,” Gary recalls.
It took 55 years, but Gary was right. After retiring from their jobs in New Hampshire, Gary and his wife Diana decided to embark on a new adventure – building their retirement home on 40 acres of ranchland outside Casper, Wyoming.
Today, Gary and Diana are living their dreams as one only can in the New West, without compromising what is important to them. They have incredible privacy and freedom, but all the culture and social activities they want are 20 minutes away in a city of 55,000. Diana has the modern, tastefully decorated home with all the conveniences she wants and expects, while at the same time being the “home on the range” Gary dreamed of.
“I’m a city girl, so I wasn’t sure I’d be able to handle the quiet,” said Diana. “But I love the peacefulness, and I haven’t had to be 100% country girl.”
Another contrast is that they have put down roots in a place that makes it easy to get away. “I wanted to see the West,” said Diana. “Gary said, what better way to see it than to live it?”
Using their home as a jumping-off point, they have traveled the length and breadth of the American West and Canadian Rockies in their camper, sometimes alone and sometimes with friends. It might be a weekend in South Dakota, or a weekslong vacation to the Southwest. “We come and go as we please,” said Diana. “Sometimes it’s nice not having any plans, or saying ‘Where to next month?’ We’ll never see it all, but we’ve seen so much.”
Closer to home, Gary and Diana take advantage of all that Wyoming has to offer. Diana discovered a new passion for kayaking at the nearby Alcova Reservoir in Fremont Canyon, and the couple like exploring the land in their all-terrain vehicle and by bicycle. Gary goes “treasure hunting” – he once found a door from a cast-iron stove that probably was lost by some pioneer or rancher a century and a half ago – and likes to fish and shoot recreationally.
Life on the range has a way of changing the way you see things. Gary and Diana still have neighbors – they just live miles away instead of yards. They also still have favorite restaurants, shopping, cultural activities and entertainment – it’s just in Casper, not in a strip mall down the road.
Having Casper nearby also makes it easier to come and visit. Gary’s mother was able to come and stay with them for a month, and one of Gary and Diana’s sons came for a visit that left an impression. “Our youngest son loves it,” Gary said. “He said dad, don’t ever sell this place.”
Gary Booth is a history buff with an interest in the Old West, making it fitting that he and his wife chose to settle on the B.B. Brooks Ranch, which is steeped in stories of the era:
With a clear picture of their life in mind, Gary and Diana were able to plan a house that suited their dreams for retirement – comfortable, low maintenance, modern and beautiful.
Across the open land with its grasses and wildflowers, the rolling land outside their living room window leads up to Casper Mountain in the distance. Their property plays host to all kinds of animals – mule deer, antelope, eagles, fox and the occasional elk. “We get some great sunrises and sunsets,” said Gary. “That was what I envisioned.”
The constant encounters with wildlife and the wide-open skies offer a different perspective – especially the night sky. “There are no street lights, so when it gets dark, its beautiful,” Gary said. “One night I came home from dinner, and there was the Big Dipper coming up on the horizon like you could reach out and grab it.”
The first key was the 40 acres they chose. Looking at electrical access, they found a parcel that was right across from where the power line ended, which they then were able to extend to their property. A well brings them clean, clear water from 300 feet down – Gary dowsed for it and chose the drilling site himself.
The architecture of the house wouldn’t look out of place in any new development, and the construction is little different than one would find anywhere, just with extra insulation and a durable exterior and framing to stand up to winter winds. Snow drifts can build up sometimes, but “usually the snow hits the ground and blows to Nebraska,” Gary said.
All in all, these were a small price to pay for the privacy, the adventures, and unique experiences of Western life. “My brother-in-law came out here and said, ‘You live on a dirt road,’” Gary recalls. “They live in Vegas. When he got out here, he looked around, and he said ‘Now I know why you live here.’”
The roads that extend to the horizon from their front door are the perfect metaphor for the life Gary and Diana enjoy. “Here you have the freedom,” Gary said. “I can go forever.”