Owner/Guide Laine Johnson with her family.
Most of us start out with a ‘Plan A’ in life. Mine was to be a Wildlife Biologist stalking Jaguars in some remote jungle. I pictured myself living in a cabin drinking strong coffee listening to exotic birds sing. But life takes twists and turns and strangely enough it has guided me back to another core love - history and a connection to place. Turns out, these things are not mutually exclusive. I have lived through some wild adventures that have taught me wonderful and sometimes difficult lessons. I couldn’t see it then but they were all preparing me for this new chapter – to create and lead Horsefly History Tours: History with a Bite!
To digress, I am a native Coloradoan. I grew up loving and exploring the high alpine lakes and pine-scented trails of the Rocky Mountains. I was fortunate enough to live in Jamestown, CO until I was 8; I went to a one room schoolhouse and had the same amazing teacher from pre-K to 3rd. After a move to Boulder, CO, I had a stint in Vermont, then earned a B.S. in Wildlife Biology from Colorado State University and an M.S. in Zoology & Physiology from the University of Wyoming. Throughout this time of my young adult life, I worked in Rocky Mountain National Park as a Naturalist leading nature walks, campfire programs, and stopping traffic for bighorn sheep (yep:). Interestingly, this position allowed me to find my voice amongst some of the most amazing men and women I have ever known; a voice I now rely on to relay Durango’s raucous and exciting history, with passion. After Rocky, I radio-collared mountain lions in the Snowy Range of WY, as part of a two-person team traveling by snowmobile in the winter and horse in the summer. My Master’s thesis focused on the genetics of American marten in SW Alaska; generating wild adventures baiting live-traps with sardines amongst very large, salmon-eating brown bears!
In 2005, my husband and I moved to Durango; prioritizing lifestyle over big-city career. It didn’t take me long to become curious about the history of this unique place. I poured through Durango history books with an obsession. The more I read, the more curious and passionate I became. I love walking into an old building, feeling the rich energy from the past. Old buildings and places speak to my soul. I have always had a firm belief that a connection to place, whether a town or a forest, feeds our souls. I believe that once you learn about the history of Durango, you will see it in a whole new light. So begins Horsefly History Tours!
I couldn’t do any of this without the support of my loving family. My husband helped elevate my courage and provides broad support; my 8-year old daughter, Evelyn, is my honorary business partner due to her enthusiasm for this venture and her new love of history; and, my 6-year old son, Grey, well let’s be honest…right now he only cares about the gunfights of the Wild West (you know the good guys versus the bad guys:). Durango is our home, our place, our community, and we cherish it. I look forward to sharing what I’ve learned and getting to know our community even more on this next chapter, for what is my deeply-treasured ‘Plan B’.