You never know if you don't try.
That's been the common theme in Janie and Jack Romick's life together, with one thread woven throughout: ranching.
The Romicks will lead off Oak Creek's Labor Day Parade on Monday as grand marshals.
The opportunity is an honor, Janie said. The couple has never served as grand marshals of a parade before, but said it's special to have the chance to represent the town and the South Routt ranching community.
As they're riding along Main Street, Janie said she guessed they'd be thinking of "what built up to this" -- the 52 years they've spent together
Jack and Janie met in their hometown of Rawlins, Wyo. She was working at a restaurant, and he walked in and ordered a piece of pie and coffee, he said.
Her father was a conductor for the Union Pacific Railroad, and she had never gone near a horse.
Jack worked on ranches since he was a boy of about 12.
"We were opposites," Jack said.
"I didn't know anything about ranches until he moved me to a ranch," Janie said. Their first home had no bathroom and no electricity, a move that would have been tough if they hadn't been so in love, she said.
They started off managing large ranches in Wyoming, had three sons, and eventually Jack went to the University of Wyoming and studied agriculture. All three sons, along with the Romick's five grandchildren, now work and live in Routt County.
Jack took a job working at a Uranium mill in Wyoming owned by Bob Adams, a well-known Steamboat Springs businessman, then went back to managing ranches for Adams in Wyoming and Colorado.
They moved to a ranch outside Kremmling and left the job for a few years to open up Romick's Western Wear, a store featuring Jack's handmade saddles, among other items.
"We just wanted to try something different," Janie said. "We had to go spread our wings and try something different."
Eventually they opened the Hoof and Horn, a local bar and restaurant for which they are remembered today.
In 1967, they moved to Steamboat Springs to manage Adams' ranch in Pleasant Valley, just below Rabbit Ears Pass. Jack learned how to ski at age 39 and worked as a ski patrolman in the winter.
The family worked a few years in California, ran their own cattle for a bit, then moved to Oak Creek to retire in 1992.
They knew they'd always come "back home," Janie said. "We had the Yampa Valley curse. ... Routt County was always our home."
Oak Creek was a natural choice -- it was smaller than Steamboat Springs and hadn't experienced the boom in growth the ski town had. The couple often had come to the town to rodeo when they were living in Kremmling.
In fact, their front yard now was the site of the old rodeo ring. Bales of hay were placed to make a ring, and cars circled the area so people could watch.
"Many, many rodeos were put on in our yard," Janie said.
What is now their tack shed was used to sell concessions.
They also have Oak Creek's original meat processing plant, which Janie said dates back to 1916, in their back yard.
"That's what has thrilled us so much about buying this place, is there is so much history right here and we remember it from living in Kremmling," Janie said.
Since retiring, Jack works on his saddles as a hobby, and Janie stays involved with the community through groups such as the Historical Society of Oak Creek and Phippsburg.
Their varied experiences have been wonderful.
"Oh, I wouldn't have traded it for anything," Jack said.
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