Category Archives: Wyoming

Sunday driving

 

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Yesterday was a fantastic reminder of why I moved to Wyoming in the first place. On a whim, I drove up to Vedauwoo early in the morning and wandered around the dirt roads that take you out to Happy Jack Road, and then continued taking the long way back to Cheyenne. 

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Low-Budget Living: The Rodeo

One of the reasons I wanted to keep a blog was so that it can serve as a tool for the person who comes in to replace me next year; you can give plenty of good advice over coffee or on the phone, but there will pretty much always be something you omit, something that seems trivial that they’ll wonder about at a later date. So hopefully when I’m done paying it forward to a new VISTA, I can also give him or her this URL for when they feel like perusing the ups and downs of poverty-level living. So from time to time, I plan on gathering my thoughts about different aspects of life on a tight budget and trying to say something helpful – and hopefully, entertaining.

In that spirit, and since I haven’t updated in a while, the first episode of this series is going to focus on those whirlwind two weeks when Cheyenne seems to be the center of the universe, at least for the mountain time zone: Frontier Days.

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Life Update

Well, hello everyone. It’s been a while, eh?

How to explain the last two months of my life? In brief: training in Salem, Oregon with brief, tantalizing glimpses of Portland. A weekend trip to Rocky Mountain National Park during which I learned what it feels like to be a sea-level baby when the trailhead starts at 9500’ (we had representation from most of the ACC states in a line on the right side of almost every steep). A light show on and around a camper programmed to the beat of the Amazing Grace Techno Remix. A two-week rodeo festival that included multiple 10,000-person free pancake breakfasts, two parades, and a lot of hats. Seeing one of the NINE days of rodeo from a sweet seat behind the chutes and suddenly realizing that I live in Wyoming now. Having to move to a new apartment on the north side because my neighbor started stalking me and leaving me the world’s craziest notes. Cat-sitting and starting to lose my mind about not having a dog. Suddenly adding “hanging sheetrock and firetaping walls” to my list of responsibilities. Discovering the best bagel place in Cheyenne. Waxing, driving, and selling concessions from an ancient Winnebago that can barely get itself up shallow inclines; enjoying working the Farmer’s Market in general, even if it does require commitment of the hours between 6 am and 2 pm on Saturdays. Teaching myself to make buffalo burgers. Shark Week. Football season. Finding the sports bar for football exiles, which provides the most exciting NFL viewing experience possible: fans in jerseys of every color shouting at any number of thirty televisions. Movies and Shakespeare in the park, roadtrips to Casper, cultivating a favorite bar, and nighttime thunderstorms.

I might get into more detail about any of these things at a later date, but for right now, just the snapshot. One final note: did anyone else completely miss that the Ravens are one of only two NFL teams with a marching band?? (The Redskins are the other.)  I will never again taking the Marching Ravens for granted.

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Back in the saddle.

I’m kick-starting this thing back up, albeit after two months in Cheyenne that have included rodeos, farmers markets, crazy neighbor situations, and a move — stay tuned!

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Move-In Day Over, Moving In Half Finished…

Conclusion Drawn:

On the eighth day, God invented magnetized tools. And it was good.

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Welcome to the Cowboy State

Here we are, sprawled out in a motel on the outskirts of the city I’m adopting for the next year — and I’m already in love with it. 

The last leg of the drive, Omaha to Cheyenne, bisected Nebraska, another state I’d never laid eyes on before. We made pretty decent time, but elected to stop a couple of times — and how could you not, with signs like “Buffalo Bill’s Ranch,” “Pioneer Trail” and “Pony Express Stop” cropping up every few exits? We drove all the way into Gothensburg, NE to see the latter, and it was worth it both for the opportunity to stretch our legs and for the building itself, which was small and packed with maps, saddles and bags, and souvenirs.  Picking up a map, we realized that we were pretty much driving the Oregon Trail, although it passed north of Cheyenne itself. But for all of you  MECC enthusiasts: I drove through Kearney and by Ft. Kearney and I live just a half hour south of Ft. Laramie. 

Anyway, the drive itself was a lot of fun, and not just because of the Petro Stop with the large, handwritten “JAMES WOODS STOPPED HERE” sign, accompanied by an 8.5 x 11 computer printout James Woods headshot and a scrap of paper with what I assume is James Woods’s autograph. I really got to see the transition into big sky — just gorgeous — and by the time we had gotten used to that (and the occasional appearance of stock lots and oil derricks), we started to get into buttes and hills. The landscape changed again almost immediately at the Wyoming border, getting a little more rugged and stands of pine trees cropping up. 

From there it wasn’t far to Cheyenne — and it didn’t take long for me to realize that Cheyenne is the cowboy-iest place I’ve ever been….there’s a giant Western wear store called “THE WRANGLER,” (with a bucking cowboy on the front), a big depot, VERY cool buildings, motel signs that haven’t been updated since the ’50s which are tremendously cool, and daily gunfight reenactments within walking distance of my apartment. 

I’ll say that again. Daily. Gunfights. Mere blocks from where I sleep. And not in the Baltimore sense.

Oh, and free horsecart rides around town.

In short: I’m enamored, and I love the look of this place — especially that I can see the mountains from here. Can’t wait until Frontier Days starts.

Actually, I can’t wait to get settled for real. To that end, I’m going to sign off for the moment, since I’m pretty beat from the last few days (and, mom points out, the altitude — we’re over 6000 feet up, higher than Denver and nearly as high as my tent was in Karatu, Tanzania). 

From a brand new time zone in the wild, wild west — goodnight.

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Packing up my game; heading out West.

(This is, I believe, the only thing that I have in common with Kid “Cowboy” Rock.)

Yes indeed, in about three days I’ll be leaving the east coast FOREVER. Well, for a year. And also, I’ll be back in October. And for Christmas. And so forth.

Nevertheless, it is a big change: from Baltimore, Maryland — home of “The Wire,” fiendishly delicious crabcakes, the best free safety in the NFL, and late-90s pop sensation Dru Hill — to Cheyenne, Wyoming, the “Gateway to the West” and home of Cheyenne Frontier Days, the largest (and oldest? I’ve heard conflicting reports) outdoor rodeo on earth.  

While I make no promises that this blog will be confined explicitly to the transition, and subsequent Wyoming adventures — let’s be honest, I just don’t function between the lines (hence one reason for the title of the site) — it should, generally, chart the absurdities, perplexities, vagaries, felicities, and frenzies of this new chapter. 

Come Saturday — bright and early, and after one so-long O’s game — I’ll be leaving the launchpad, mama in tow, for Indiana and the home of my old roommate from the Northlands; while Said Roommate is currently safari-ing in Namibia with her mom (jealous!), her family was kind enough to offer beds and coffee pots to us travelers. From there, I think the plan is all the way out to Omaha, Nebraska, and then to Wyoming.  So stay tuned!

In a word: hi!

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