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Early Spring HOWA 2012

Retreat to the Rockies

A labor-saving, trail-blazing Bobcat 3400 4x4 utility vehicle helps complete time-consuming chores with ease — and makes off-road, scenic adventures a breeze.

Barbara Hering and Lance Coppock

Barbara Hering, Lance Coppock and their Bobcat 3400 utility vehicle.

When life-long Iowa natives Lance Coppock and Barbara Hering first visited Coppock’s son, Adam, in Missoula, Mont., more than a decade ago, it didn’t take long for them to understand what the lure of Big Sky Country was all about. Spectacular snow-capped mountain peaks, huge expanses of undisturbed wilderness, crystal clear streams teeming with trout and a plethora of wildlife have enticed vacationers, celebrities and investors to this scenic playground for decades.

Comedian David Letterman owns a ranch here, as does professional football Hall-of-Famer Joe Montana (fittingly), in addition to a virtual who’s who of personalities who, like Coppock and Hering, just want to get away from it all at times.

Both attorneys with demanding law practices and rigorous schedules, Coppock and Hering had been searching for the ideal retreat property. Then, during one of Coppock’s many visits to spend time with Adam, the father/son explorer duo set out on an adventure to Yellowstone National Park. It was on that trip they discovered the tiny, quaint villages of Cooke City and Silver Gate, Mont., located within a stone’s throw of Yellowstone’s northeastern-most entrance. Immediately upon Coppock’s return to Des Moines, Adam stepped up the property search.

“Adam found this really neat house and land for sale nearby,” Coppock says. “The owner had been a doctor from Billings and he and his wife lived there in retirement. But as they grew older, it became more difficult for them to manage the property. I can understand how difficult it must have been for them to leave this place. We feel very fortunate having found it.”

A Bobcat utility vehicle with four-wheel drive allows Lance Coppock and Barbara Hering to explore new areas around their getaway cabin in rural Montana.

A Bobcat utility vehicle with four-wheel drive allows Lance Coppock and Barbara Hering to explore new areas around their getaway cabin in rural Montana.

Remote, revered respite
The Coppock-Hering retreat is located just off Highway 212, most commonly referred to as Beartooth Highway. The home, which borders some national forest land, is situated on four spectacular acres within a mile of the Northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park.

“It’s a wonderfully remote place,” Hering says, “and the perfect spot for us to escape. There’s no cellphone coverage, yet the house has all the modern conveniences like electricity and heat, etc., and magnificent windows. Among the many things we enjoy most about it are the wood-burning stoves. There’s nothing more relaxing than the sound of a crackling fire, gazing out the huge windows with snowflakes gently falling, awaiting an appearance from the next bear, moose or elk.”

Fewer trips to the woodshed
Keeping two hungry wood-burning stoves fed takes a fair amount of wood. And while Coppock and Hering aren’t ones to shy away from some rigorous, physical activity, the laborious process of locating, splitting and hauling firewood was certainly an impediment to the couple’s exploring playtime.

“We needed a vehicle to help with some of the small jobs around the property,” Coppock says, “like hauling firewood and rocks, pulling stumps … that sort of thing. But we also wanted something that could easily traverse the sometimes rugged terrain when we were off on one of our adventures. I was familiar with the solid reputation of Bobcat® equipment, so we did a lot of research online. Then, after a visit to Bobcat of Big Horn, in nearby Cody, Wyo., we decided on the 3400 UTV with four-wheel-drive transmission. It’s really saved us a lot of chore time and back-breaking labor.”

Hauling firewood to the property’s woodshed with the Bobcat 3400 dramatically cuts down on labor and time for Lance Coppock and Barbara Hering.

Hauling firewood to the property’s woodshed with the Bobcat 3400 dramatically cuts down on labor and time for Lance Coppock and Barbara Hering.

Coppock especially appreciates the 3400 4x4 UTV for hauling his wood splitter deep into the backwoods in search of fallen trees to cut for firewood; then transporting the split logs back to the property’s woodshed for curing and storage. The Bobcat UTV has also greatly reduced the number of trips — and back strain — he and Hering now have to make between the house and woodshed when replenishing the stockpile for inside use.

“It’s a very rugged machine that is right at home within the terrain here,” Coppock says. “It was especially useful with building our outdoor fire ring. We would never have been able to carry many of the larger rocks the distance if we had done it manually.”

Rugged recreational versatility
Coppock likens the Bobcat 3400 4x4 UTV to a burly motorized cart — fun to drive, easy to operate and quick to adapt to changing terrain — yet recalls being cautioned by his dealer to always respect its power and capabilities.

“Our dealer explained all the safety factors and emphasized that the 3400 was a powerful UTV,” Hering says. “He spent a lot of time demonstrating the different transmission settings and showing us which would be best for different types of conditions. I was a bit intimidated at first, but learning the right gears and how to drive it safely, I soon felt totally safe. The 3400 allows us to access places we normally wouldn’t venture into. It’s very utilitarian, but the added surprise for us is that it’s also a lot of fun. We now create our own trails and observe unsuspecting wildlife that most people never get the chance to see.”

Where bears and buffalo roam

Officially designated as Highway 212, although more commonly known as Beartooth Highway, this 67-mile stretch of road, originating at the most northeasterly entrance to Yellowstone National Park, offers sweeping vistas of snow-covered mountains, unlimited outdoor recreation opportunities and unparalleled wildlife viewing. It’s the highest elevation highway in the northern Rockies, at points reaching upwards of 11,000 feet.

Events leading to its construction were actually set in motion when Congress set aside Yellowstone as the nation’s first national park. By 1880, the towns of Cooke City and Red Lodge, Mont., were well-established and with the automobile becoming the preferred mode during the 1920s, the need for a road system in and out of Yellowstone was set in motion.

Construction began in 1932, and many of the engineering aspects are impressive even by today’s standards. Despite the difficult terrain and harsh weather conditions, the project was completed on time and on budget in 1936. Some 75 years later, this scenic highway — coined “America’s most beautiful roadway” by CBS News anchor Charles Kuralt — still provides visitors an unparalleled journey through some of the most remote wilderness on earth, just as it did for Model T drivers more than 8 decades ago.

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