Bobby Joe and Sherry Long, owners of Oasis and Vision Quest motels in Meeteetse, find that “often people have reservations for one or two nights and extend their time in Meeteetse. People are just charmed by our town.”
“(It’s) Meeteetse’s closeness to hiking, hunting, river and lake fishing, large game hunting, snowmobiling, cross country ski trails and lots and lots of wildlife viewing,” Bobby Joe added. “People find it unbelievable. It’s hard to imagine what 2,000 head of elk look like, unless you see 2,000 head.”
The Longs came to Meeteetse after Bobby Joe retired from the Air Force. After serving 20 years, stationed in Greece, Germany, Korea, Florida and Utah, the couple wanted to get away from the city.
“When you retire from the military you still have to work. Fate brought us to Meeteetse,” Sherry said.
When they were looking to do a 1031 exchange for property they owned in Florida, the Longs began looking for property in the Cody and Meeteetse area. When two properties in Cody fell through, they were shown the Oasis and RV Park in Meeteetse and knew it was the perfect fit.
Purchasing the Oasis Motel and RV Park in 2000, a 12-room motel, with six kitchenette cabins and 10 full hookup RV sites, the Longs knew the backyard area, with its riverside location, would make a great open area for their guests and the community to enjoy.
Disassembling the last remaining standing building in the old Meeteetse town site, the Longs used that façade to add a Western building backdrop in their backyard area. The backdrop is good for taking photos and for their well-known chuckwagon dinners.
Wanting to bring exposure to the motel and the backyard, from 2003-05, the Longs hosted monthly community chuckwagon dinners, with cowboy re-enactments, cowboy stories, local bands and poetry.
Annually, the Longs host the National Day of the American Cowboy and the Meeteetse Trail Regulators at the Oasis. The backyard is available for anyone to rent and has become a popular venue for weddings, funerals, birthday parties and community concerts.
During the last year, Sherry said the Oasis has “really picked up as a reunion location. People like having a central point and because we have RV, hotel, camping and entertainment, it’s a good place for families. Most of our bookings are people who like being off the beaten path. The hospitality of the town is not so commercialized.”
In 2010, seeing the Longs success at the Oasis, the owners of the “other” motel in Meeteetse, approached them about buying the Vision Quest Motel & RV Park.
Although hesitant to take on a second motel, the couple purchased the 15-room motel with 12 kitchenettes, five suites and four long-term RV rentals, and spent the next year completing an extensive remodeling and updating project. They work to ensure they provide their customers with a “clean, comfortable, reasonably priced room.”
Finding the hotel industry “an easy industry to pick up on,” the couple make a good team. Sherry takes care of the marketing and office, and Bobby Joe takes care of the IT and maintenance.
“We like the freedom of working for ourselves and talking to people,” Sherry said.
“Most of the time people are on vacation. We enjoy hearing the stories of people that lived here a long time ago. It’s interesting to find out about people and why they are here. Some of our guests have been staying with us for years. They like the mom-and-pop atmosphere and think of the hotel as a home away from home.”
Both Bobby Joe and Sherry have invested in Meeteetse and have served on numerous boards through the years. Currently, Sherry is in her fifth year with the Meeteetse Visitor Center Board, 10th year on the Park County Travel Council and second year with the Cody Yellowstone Air Improvement Resources (CYAIR) group, while Bobby Joe is on his 12th year with the Meeteetse Volunteer Fire Department.
They say they have “thoroughly enjoyed the 12 years we have lived here. It’s opened up opportunities and allowed us to use skills we didn’t even know we had. It’s challenged us and it’s just a wonderful community. We look forward to being part of this community and doing what we can to support and promote Meeteetse.”