Urbigkit Cat: Godsmack, Goatsmack | Cowboy State Daily
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By Cat Urbigkit, Range Writing columnist
Let’s just eliminate some preliminaries. I like upbeat rock music and I like pastoral systems involving moving people with their livestock. These things are not mutually exclusive.
Now let’s move on to the most painful part: middle age. By painful, I mean both the physical pain involved in learning that I’m not as young as I once was, as well as the pain of realizing I’m middle-aged just in time to realize that I can’t not sustain this assertion for long.
When we were young
We fled a few months after I turned 20. I picked up Jim from the rig where he was a derrick on a rig in the Hoback, and we were married in the historic marble-floored courthouse in Idaho Falls before a magistrate judge who married hundreds of couples in such ceremonies, but probably expected a few to stay together.
I was a waitress in my hometown cafe at the time, and after finishing my last breakfast shift before my scheduled time off, I walked out to find that Jim’s Firebird sports car that we called “The Firechicken” had been stuffed to the gills with gifts from my colleagues and regular customers – everything from luxury and household items to glasses from the bride and groom with a bottle of champagne.
Since I had no interest in a traditional wedding and Jim was always up for new adventures, we ignored the protests of friends and family and held a civil ceremony in neighboring Idaho. We spent our honeymoon cruising the mountains of Idaho, stopping to hike and rock climb. Ah, the joys (and flexibility) of youth.
Fast forward a few decades
Our schedule is to go to bed early and get up early alongside our domestic livestock, with plenty of adventures and misadventures in between. Since the pandemic disrupted our plans to visit Europe a few years ago, we’ve been waiting for an opportunity to reschedule the trip, and every few months I’ve been searching online for cheap flights.
We have been fortunate to have taken several international trips over the past few decades, all of which involved visiting shepherds and herdsmen in other countries, strengthening our kinship in a global community of animal caretakers.
A recent search online turned up a deal with potential, and I had just seen an announcement that one of my favorite rock bands would be starting their European tour around this time.
A quick search revealed that Godsmack would be performing on our anniversary in Munich, Germany. Within minutes, I booked the flights, navigated to a German language website to score two tickets to the concert, and then broke the news to Jim. First, I told him that I had booked a great deal on flights to Germany.
It was only after I could see he was thrilled to hear that a little time was in our future that I mentioned the Godsmack part of the trip.
My musical preferences favor screaming guitars, aggressive percussion and singers who can scream like monsters. Ringing My Phone has long been the opening for Disturbed’s Down with the Sickness. By contrast, Jim’s musical preference is more blues – but we both love the vibe and fun of live gigs featuring skilled musicians, regardless of genre.
With this difference in mind, my strategy has been to lure Jim to rock concerts by incorporating them into a bigger adventure. A weekend in the Pacific Northwest to visit our grandkids came to a close after an extra day at an outdoor rock festival on the Muckleshoot Indian Reservation (thanks to Jell-O shots on that one). This time it’s Germany and Godsmack…and cattle and sheep and working dogs.
Jim has known Godsmack for a long time because I pushed him to attend one of their concerts a decade ago, quenching my insistence on hearing that song live and out loud.
We call it our “Goatsmack” trip. At the time, we took a few days away from the ranch to travel to the Devils Tower area to visit friends who run a domestic goat operation that specializes in using goats to control invasive weeds .
After a night of camping with the goats under the stars and sipping whiskey around a campfire with the goats, we then drove to Casper for the Godsmack concert – which was an absolute blast, complete with a duel of outstanding drum. So the Goats and Godsmack became Goatsmack.
Aging, but not maturing
With a barely middle-aged couple having to fly to another continent to attend a rock concert, what could go wrong? Apparently, this whole aging thing.
It’s been nearly four decades since we ran away, so of course the things that break and tear in our bodies don’t heal as fast as they used to, as our doctors keep telling us when one of visits us to heal from the last misadventure. .
I revisited the lesson a few weeks before we left when I managed to injure a hip joint. But a good doctor and modern medicine make a living by treating me enough to get by until we get back.
While the concert in Germany is the starting point of our travels, we will visit several European countries to learn about their varied pastoral systems, the shepherds and herdsmen who care for livestock and their animals. This is part of a larger project I have been working on, aimed at celebrating pastors around the world and how our calling unites us in a global community.
This week as my column is published on our 37e birthday, Jim and I plan to drink German beers and play with an American rock band in a foreign country before heading out to hang out with someone else’s cattle. We shall have to give an account of what must be called this journey. Cattlesmack? Sheep ? Maybe Hipsmack.
Cat Urbigkit is an author and rancher who lives on the beach in Sublette County, Wyoming. His column, Range Writing, appears weekly in Cowboy State Daily.