Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
While I was doing research for Waiting for Spring, I became impressed with the city planners' foresight when they constructed the capitol. The site itself is two city blocks wide. Although they could have located the building anywhere within those blocks, the original designers positioned the building right in the middle where Hill Street would have come through. (As a sidenote, once the cornerstone was laid, Hill Street was renamed Capitol Avenue.) This location meant that when people disembarked from the train and looked north, they couldn't miss the capitol with its gold dome. I'm sure that was deliberate. It might even have been an attempt to upstage Union Pacific with its newly constructed red sandstone depot.
The wisdom in reserving two blocks became apparent when, soon after the fairly modest capitol was completed, the legislators realized they needed more space. Two wings, one on each side, were soon under construction. And a few decades later, two more wings were added. The beauty was that in each case, the symmetry of the building could be continued because of the original positioning of the building.
It's been 125 years, but Wyoming's territorial capitol, now its state capitol, still stands in the center of Cheyenne, welcoming visitors as well as legislators. If you're ever in Cheyenne, don't miss it.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Okay, now that I've told you more than you want to know about jackrabbits, let me assure you that they really are great sprinters. Although they spend a lot of time resting in small depressions like this one, they can hit speeds of 40 mph and can even outrun faster predators, simply because of their ability to zig-zag without losing speed.
Those ears are pretty impressive, aren't they? As it turns out, they do more than allow them to hear approaching predators. They also serve as built-in radiators, dissipating heat. Amazing, at least to me.
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
By now you all know that Fort Laramie is one of my favorite places in Wyoming, so you won't be surprised that I've included another picture of it. What appeals to me about this one is the contrast of the two forms of transportation (covered wagon and Mormon hand cart) with the apparent serenity of the fort. Of course, when it was an active fort, there would have been hundreds of people scurrying around, everyone from Army dependents to laundresses. And, most likely, the parade ground would have been filled with soldiers marching. Even during the final years of the fort, when there was little danger of attack, military discipline required that soldiers drill. You might even have seen one being disciplined by having to carry a heavy log on his back as he marched. I can't imagine doing that, particularly during a hot Wyoming summer with the sun beating down.
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in the United States, and as I think of the many reasons I have to be thankful, one is that I'm living in Wyoming. As this early postcard that I discovered in a special exhibit at the State Museum says, it's like no place on earth.
Whatever you are doing tomorrow, I hope you have many reasons to give thanks.
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
For me, this is truly an instance of a picture being worth a thousand words. What can I say other than that autumn in Wyoming is beautiful? If you're curious, this was taken near South Pass City, a restored gold mining town in southwestern Wyoming.
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
One of the things I liked about the Historic Trails Museum in Casper was the number of interactive exhibits that give visitors a chance to actually experience aspects of the pioneers' journey west. Here I am trying to pull a Mormon hand cart. Trust me, it wasn't easy! Admittedly, I wasn't exactly dressed for the occasion, but there's no ignoring the fact that it takes a lot of strength, not to mention endurance, to pull a heavily laden cart thousands of miles. Handcarts may have been less prone to problems than mule-drawn covered wagons, but they were definitely a challenge for those pulling them.
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
What is this? A two-story outhouse. I'd never seen them or even heard of them before reading about this one, but once I learned of its existence, I had to see it. It's a replica of the ones used in the nineteenth and early twentieth century and is part of the Grand Encampment Museum in Encampment, Wyoming.
Why would anyone need a two-story outhouse? Simple. That part of the state gets so much snow that the lower half is submerged. Rather than having to keep digging paths to the door, the enterprising workers simply added a second story for use during the winter months. I, of course, would prefer indoor plumbing.
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
"Where the deer and the antelope play." Every time I think about "Home on the Range," that's the line that lingers in my mind, probably because we have so many antelope, or -- as they're more commonly called -- pronghorns, in Wyoming. One of the things that impressed me about Wyoming on my first trips here was that there seemed to be at least as many pronghorns as people. It's still true -- about half a million of each.
Now, for some pronghorn trivial.
- They're the fastest land animals in North America, reaching speeds of 60 mph.
- Although they can run for long distances, they're challenged by fences. I find it distressing to see pictures of them, caught up in barbed wire as they attempt their seasonal migration.
- Both male and female of the species have horns.
- While a herd is grazing, one pronghorn remains alert, serving as a sentinel.
That may be more than you wanted to know. From my view, perhaps their most important characteristic is that they're beautiful animals.
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Do you know what this is? I wouldn't be surprised if your first guess was not "a sod wall," since it doesn't look like the walls I associate with pioneers' sod houses. But this is indeed a sod wall, even though it looks a lot like a face. The reason it has such a whimsical shape is that it's part of the Children's Village at the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens. Here's a back view, so you can see how it was constructed.
The Botanic Gardens are one of my favorite places in Cheyenne and a "must see" location for our visitors, in part because of creativity like this. As I tell everyone, the Children's Village isn't just for kids.
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
For anyone who's interested in the pioneers' journey west, the Historic Trails Museum in Casper is a must-see. I've always been fascinated by the strength -- both physical and emotional -- that the early travelers must have had, and this museum only increased my admiration for them. The first thing to see is this central room with its life-sized exhibits and a 19-minute movie that cleverly incorporated the wagons into it. On a side note, you'll notice that the canvas tops of the wagons are no longer the milk white they were when they left Missouri. The movie mentions the white-topped prairie schooners, but these show the results of weather and the inevitable dust. Notice, too, that the travelers are walking, not riding. Some even did it barefoot, which I cannot imagine.
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Railroads were a key force in developing Wyoming and were responsible for the settlement of a number of cities, including Cheyenne. If you go to Douglas, not only can you learn more about trains at the Railroad Interpretive Museum, but as a bonus, you get to see the town's most famous resident, the jackalope. The museum has a number of different types of train cars, everything from engines to dining cars and sleepers, and they're all open to the public.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
For me, Devils Tower (no, there's no apostrophe there, thanks to a clerical error when the area was declared a National Monument) is a special place -- very peaceful and awe inspiring. Even though I enjoy walking around it and studying every angle, I can't imagine wanting to climb the tower. Can you?
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
It's over four months until December 25, but it felt like Christmas today. Why? Because I received the first copy of my Christmas novella, Christmas Roses. For an author, there's nothing quite like holding that first copy, and this one is extra special to me, because it's a hard cover book.
If you're curious about it (and, of course I hope you are), I've posted a brief description, some background information, an excerpt, the first review, and bookclub discussion questions on my web site. http://www.sff.net/people/amanda.cabot/index_files/more-christmas.htm
Like last week's picture, this one was taken at Flaming Gorge. Unlike last week's spires, which I could envision the pioneers seeing, this is distinctly modern -- a fish cleaning station. Did you know that Wyoming is noted for its world class fishing, particularly trout? It is! Although I don't fish, I'm glad to see that we provide amenities for those who do.
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
I don't know about you, but to me spires like this say WEST in capital letters. I picture the pioneers seeing them in the distance and knowing how far they'd come on their journey. Perhaps they were encouraged that they were well over halfway to their destination, but perhaps they considered the landscape desolate.
These spires are in Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area in south western Wyoming. If the 300 or so miles from Cheyenne seemed like a long trip on an interstate with 75 mph speed limits, what must it have been like for people traveling all the way from the East by covered wagon? I salute the pioneers!
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Western wildfires have been in the news for the past few months and for good reason. They're terribly destructive, and the destruction lasts for decades. Although this picture was taken more than twenty years after the Yellowstone fires of 1988, you can see that the dead trees are still clearly visible, although they no longer dominate the scene. I'm encouraged by the amount of new growth that has occurred, and so I try not to cringe when I look at the snags and think about all the majestic lodgepole pines that were lost that year.
Does anyone know who decided to call standing dead trees 'snags' or why? I don't.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
One exterior wall of the Laramie County Library in Cheyenne is decorated with a series of book-related quotations. It was hard to choose a favorite, but this one won. I like the way Eliot expresses the many things books can do for us, including entertaining and informing, and -- of course -- I like the fact that he was eloquent in doing so.
Like Thomas Jefferson, I cannot live without books. Can you? If not, why not?
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
One of the things I find fascinating is animals' camouflage. Horned larks build their nests in the ground, apparently not caring that predators might trip over them, but you rarely see them, because the colors of the nest and the eggs are so similar to the surrounding grass. Every time I came near, the chicks would open their beaks, obviously expecting to be fed. I think they mistook the clicking of the camera shutter for their mother's chirping.
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Monday, July 2, 2012
http://www.sff.net/people/amanda.cabot/index_files/newsletters.htm and on my web page's "Story Behind the Story" tab http://www.sff.net/people/amanda.cabot/index_files/more-spring.htm. I hope you agree with me that this is a cover that will catch readers' eyes. I couldn't be more pleased with it.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Monday, June 25, 2012
I've started a new book, and I'm having trouble choosing one character's name. His last name is D'Antoine (yes, he had French ancestors). The first names I'm considering are Gordon, Alexander, Justin and Xavier. If we pick Alexander, he'll be called Alex. The other choices will not have nicknames.
Do any of these appeal to you?
Do any of these appeal to you?