The days leading up to our arrival in Wyoming were filled with niceties: a two-room hotel suite in downtown Denver to include a free happy hour, ample breakfast selections, and, my favorite vacation indulgence – housekeeping,
(yes, you guessed it – Embassy Suites are the bomb), as well as a four-day vacation in breathtaking Steamboat Springs to include crisp mornings, brilliant blue skies,
clean mountain air, fabulous hiking and running trails, microbrewed beer on tap by the river,
kids adventure camp (we adults were lucky to be exempt from their explorations, involving hunting for crawfish, killing them, cooking them, and eating them), extended-family bonding time and plenty of winding roadtripping.
Behind all of this indulgence before my first step over the Wyoming border was a husband who feared his wife would find Wyoming, and our subsequent four years here, miserable. He did everything he could to ensure a comfortable, relaxing and enjoyable arrival in hopes I’d overlook some of Cheyenne’s shortcomings. Knowing I was profoundly attached to Capitol Hill and the endless amount of entertainment and gastronomic experiences a big city offered, as well as a healthy network of friends, I believe he was afraid Wyoming would be too far the other extreme for me.
A couple of weeks before my arrival, he drove Evan and Alex all the way from Little Rock to Cheyenne solo.
Executing mountains of in-processing paperwork – not only for his job, but for the boys’ health insurance, doctors appointments, dental appointments, school applications, sports leagues, after-school programs, etc., he was also saddled with securing us a home, getting Evan tested for a special school program, setting up utility connections…the list goes on. Oh, and he also had to go to work, leaving the boys in the trusted hands of a babysitter on base for a few days.
Not sure I know many dads who a) could handle as many tasks as he did solo, with two small children clinging to his legs, or b) choose to do so with excitement. He did all of the hard work in transferring our family out West.
Driving from Steamboat Springs to Cheyenne this past Sunday, we crossed the border into Wyoming and had to pull off of the two-line highway for a pit stop, seeing as there were no gas stations or other facilities for miles and miles. The first thing we noticed was: The Wind.
The next thing we noticed was incredibly wide, open spaces and no sign of human life. Yes, it was desolate, but also beautiful in a way. The blue sky was as big and wide as the wind was strong. Miles and miles of barren and rugged Wild West landscape led to Laramie. As we rolled into the small town on our way to Cheyenne, my sister-in-law, Sarah, enthusiastically yelled out, “A coffee shop!”, though it was closed and shuttered. She then pointed out other promising signs of dining or retail establishments, but again, all were closed and had been for awhile it seemed. Our options grew dim. We were excited to come upon a working gas station, though, especially since our tank was nearing empty. It was a stereotypical cow town. Cowboys on all sides, driving massive pickup trucks with horse trailers hitched behind them. One at a time, we took turns using the bathroom inside and snickering at the various souvenirs they, including wall-mounted jackalopes and a huge moose head. You’d never know this town of 30k is home to the only university in the entire state of Wyoming.
It was time to leg out the last 40 miles of our trek to Cheyenne. We passed warning signs regarding road closures and there were even blockades like the ones that come down at railroad crossings, which they use in inclement weather to close the road between Laramie and Cheyenne. Apparently this happens often and a sign instructs you to “Return to Laramie”. I was pleasantly surprised as we rounded a bend and came across enormous windmills dotting the horizon.
I could see Cheyenne in the distance and it wasn’t nearly as dusty and barren as I had pictured. We pulled onto base where three huge missiles stood (it’s a missile base) and were welcomed with vast, manicured green spaces with wild geese and antelope grazing. Huge, historic red brick homes with wrap-around porches lined the main road and everyone greeted us with a smile and respectful hello. I could tell Blair was waiting for my reaction and praying for a positive one.
It was beautiful and he has nothing to worry about. Our kids will be living in a neighborhood where you can open the door and let them play outside all day without constant supervision (and there’s a different playground on almost every block on base). Everyone who comes on base must show an I.D. at the entrance gates, the speed limit is around 25mph, there are wild antelope grazing on your front lawn,
Evan’s school bus stop is literally across the street from our house, the medical clinic is within shouting distance, as is the free movie theater, post office, indoor swimming pool, and the youth activity center and sports fields where the boys will go for after school tutoring, soccer and play. Blair’s work is a quick 8 minute drive off base allowing for more family time, as well as low-level flyovers to keep the boys entertained on the ground (wave to daddy! The photo below is Blair literally flying over our house – middle house in photo).
My only complaint so far is needing gloves for my morning runs in August and having to dodge goose and antelope poop on the sidewalks. I know family and friends in Arkansas, Arizona and elsewhere suffering triple-digit temps right now are not sympathizing! So, hubby, if you’re reading this, rest assured we’re excited to be here and will soak up everything the Wild West has to offer! We’re home on the range!