I have a secret crush on Walt Longmire. He’s the sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming. And he lives in Craig Johnson’s books.
I started watching the Longmire tv series (originally shown on A&E) last fall. After three seasons, the show became a Netflix production. Series 5 just finished filming and will be released on Netflix in September.
Eventually I convinced Banjo Man to watch the show and he was immediately hooked. In the meantime I read all of the Longmire books–in order, of course, because there’s a compelling story arc–and became a huge fan of Wyoming author Craig Johnson.
Craig Johson’s website:
Then, while researching touristy ideas for our road trip I came across an article about “Longmire Days” in Buffalo, Wyoming and learned that Buffalo was the inspiration for Walt’s fictional town of Durant.
There was a Busy Bee Café, just like in the books. And the Dash Inn hamburger joint, where Walt and Vic often stop when they’re in a hurry.
“We have to go to Buffalo,” I declared. And I told my brother, a road trip fan also, about our plans.
“I know Craig,” he said. “He lives about 20 miles from Buffalo. Would you like to meet him?”
Well, I would. If it’s not a bother. If he’s not on a deadline and strapped for time. If he doesn’t mind too much. If he’s around.
Once we crossed the Mississippi I got an email from Craig Johnson and we arranged to meet for drinks at the Occidental Hotel (a historic hotel where Banjo Man and I would take a break from our Hampton Inns and go for some authentic western flavor) at 5:30 on Wednesday.
How cool is that?!!?
We arrived in Buffalo in time for lunch at the Busy Bee, which didn’t quite work out because they were a bit disorganized. We drank some iced tea, cancelled our lunch order and set out to find some Longmire souvenirs.
Buffalo is a small, friendly town. I saw some other folks taking pictures of the Busy Bee Café and knew they were also fans of the book and/or tv show. We found a Longmire shop and bought a book. Banjo Man regrets not buying a t-shirt, though I had done my best to convince him he needed one.
At 5:30 we met Craig and his wife Judy, went next door to the historic saloon and proceeded to talk for almost two hours. They were lovely folks, warm and funny and sociable. We talked about writing. They told stories of Longmire Days (the first time it was held the town ran out of food, money and bandwidth!) and the tv show and the people who inspired the characters in the novels. They urged us to return for Longmire Days (July 8-10) but we were headed west, where we would stay for a few months.
Big thanks to my brother for setting this up! And our gratitude to Craig and Judy for making us feel welcome.
More scenes from the main street of Buffalo and the Occidental Hotel:
If you’d like to read about Longmire Days:
From the Casper Star Tribune: