Sometimes school bus drivers Susie Barry and Joe Baugher beat the snow plows to the North Fork.
Barry, who’s job involved picking up middle and high school students and bringing them into Cody, blazed the trail.
“Sometimes we plow our own snow,” she said.
“It’s the last highway they plow,” Baugher added.
Snowstorms aside, both have loved their time driving the big yellow busses into the Wapiti Valley.
The two retired at the end of the school year, with Barry having finished her 28th year in the district and Baugher his 19th.
For the past few years the two have held down the North Fork bus routes. Baugher is the elementary school driver.
They might as well be Wapiti residents. Both recalled being welcomed into the families of the children who they took to school each day.
Baugher said he’d always see his families when dropping off the children he brought from the school.
“The parents are there to meet the kids,” he said. “You know they go home and you know the parents are there.”
He never has to worry.
He’s even received help from Wapiti residents in heavy snows.
“Parents got to me when I was stuck,” he said. “They kind of adopt you in.”
For all the views and wildlife, that’s not what Barry will miss most.
“I’m going to miss the people too,” she said. “I’ve taken so many kids and teachers places.”
Both also doubled as activities bus drivers, driving sports teams, clubs and classes all over the region.
Those trips sometimes led to 2 a.m. drives and long days – something Baugher said he won’t miss as much.
However, he was also known for taking pictures at sporting events and both drivers enjoyed the places they were able to visit.
Barry said her time as a bus driver was one of life’s unexpected joys after initially driving for a river rafting company after earning her CDL.
Her first route was Valley View Subdivision. Wapiti was her fourth and final route.
It’s a route transportation director Mark Cozzens, who also retired at the end of the year, didn’t mind subbing in for.
Whether driving with the morning sun at their backs or away from the setting sun, casting shafts of light into the valley, Barry and Baugher will miss the people and the drive.
“I’m going to miss that route. I like being up there,” Barry said at the end of the school year. “I have the best view from my office window.”