Rachelle and Dan Barkhurst live in Encampment, WY, a town of about 500 people. They let me park my rig overnight in their yard. Rachelle grew up in a town in Missouri. Her mother was an early pioneer in marketing formal wear over the internet. Rachelle got interested in fashion and her life took more turns than Lombard Street in San Francisco. She met Dan, a mechanical engineer who grew up on a ranch in Encampment, they fell in love, ditched 8-5 jobs in Laramie, and are making a very non-traditional life in Encampment. He works with his Dad on ranch machinery. She has a small herd of alpacas and a studio that allows here to create clothing and jewelry, and offer a range of lessons including yoga, crystal healing, and mindfulness. This interview is with Rachelle.
“It just kind of hit me that I really need to do what speaks to me the most. I come from a pretty conservative Catholic family. You go through phases where you’re just feeling like you’re going to be judged, or it’s not going to work. So I just started to get braver and step into myself a little bit. I had a bunch of ego deaths, I guess I could say.”
“There are people here in Encampment that I think will enjoy what I am creating and I’m slowly finding them. I set up a bunch of events to give people options to be creative. I teach how to felt with the alpaca fiber, and yoga and crystal classes. Some of them, no one’s showed up; some of them have been full; some may have two people. I’ve been surprised by the people that have been excited about what I’m doing. I’m sure people have talked behind my back. That happens to everyone, but it’s just been fun.”
“Can I stand in who I am and be comfortable with this? Do I want to go somewhere and do something that everyone else is doing? Or do I want to be kind of a leader and bring something to people that are a little bit more traditional, and maybe they need or want what I have to offer?”
“My husband was born and raised here. We’ve both had our struggle with what people are going to think. I don’t want to convince anybody of anything. That’s not my job. I just feel like I’m here for a reason. I’m just going to stick to that and be available for those people that need mindfulness and are curious and open. I’ve had so many people say, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’m so glad you’re here.'”
“I have had that pushback that this is a conservative and Christian town, and I have nothing against anybody’s religion. I have my own set of beliefs and values, and I think a lot of it can merge. It scares some people just because it’s different. Monday, I had a woman and her sister come, they’ve both got kids, they’ve got a lot going on, we did a restorative practice, they made bracelets, and they just worked through stuff that they needed to work through. They were really happy when they left. So that’s kind of my place.”
“Yes, we are going to have a baby girl. We’ve all had this evaluation of the world we live in, post-COVID times, and people are thinking about their values more than ever. And my husband, cherishes his upbringing here. He was outside 90% of his life, learning about animals and care and the land and the seasons. He didn’t grow up in front of the television. We just find that so valuable. There will be things that our girl misses, but we all miss something, wherever we are.”
“There’s so much polarity in the world. I’ve really stepped back from anger and all of that. Everyone has a reason for how they feel based on their experience. I’m finding myself more as a connector, and finding that common ground because we have so much more in common than we don’t. I’ve just opened myself up to listening.”
“I’ve really never seen anything like it until I moved here, people knowing their neighbors, knowing what’s going on, having conversations, it really is very special in that way. Growing up, we didn’t really talk to our neighbors. I don’t know why. A week or so ago our mail lady realized I was pregnant. ‘Okay, well, you’re on my list for making a quilt’, she said. I barely know her. But she’s known my husband probably his whole life. So I’m probably gonna have a million baby quilts from people I barely know, because that’s just what they do!”
I started to leave a message on your site and lost it somehow. We have a group in Saratoga,Wyo. Called Tuesday Talks . Once a week on Tuesday–Jan through May.
We have discussions and speakers and encourage new people moving to town to learn about the place-it’s history ,people and plans for the future.
If you would like to talk with us one Tuesday let me know.