Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wednesday in Wyoming -- December 26, 2102

Merry Christmas from the heart of Cheyenne -- Depot Plaza.  As you may know, Cheyenne was one of the towns created as  part of the Union Pacific railroad's expansion west soon after the Civil War.  Even though passenger trains no longer stop here, the railroad still has a presence.  Not only do many freight trains pass through Cheyenne daily, but the depot itself has been restored and turned into a museum and restaurant.  The plaza in front of it serves as the site of summer concerts, farmers' markets and a number of festivals.  And, at this time of the year, the plaza is filled with holiday lights.  Given the city's history, I'm sure you're not surprised that those lights include a train.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wednesday in Wyoming -- December 19, 2012

'Tis the season for Christmas lights, and that includes Wyoming's state capitol. 

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

Wednesday in Wyoming -- December 12, 2012

Does this look like a world-class sprinter?  It's a black-tailed jackrabbit.  (Yes, there's a white-tailed variety which is found throughout Wyoming and which grows a white coat for winter.  The black-tailed one doesn't change color and is found only in the southeastern corner of the state.)

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 in Wyoming -- December 5, 2012

One of the things I love most about Yellowstone is the variety of colors.  It truly amazes me and makes me feel as if I'm in a different world.  And then there's the juxtaposition of steaming pools with snow.  What a wonderful place!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wednesday in Wyoming -- 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

Wednesday in Wyoming -- 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 in Wyoming -- November 14, 2012

It's no secret that one of my favorite places in Cheyenne is the Laramie County Library.  When I was a child, libraries were quiet places filled with books -- great places to go but not necessarily to linger.  It's different now.  Laramie County's library has a whole floor devoted to children and young adults.  Yes, there are many books, but there are also fun experiences for young patrons, including this area with a stationary bookmobile and a strange contraption that transports books up and around.  If you're ever in Cheyenne, this should be on your 'must see' list.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wednesday in Wyoming -- November 7, 2012

For me, this is one of the quintessential "autumn in Wyoming" pictures -- beautiful skies, golden aspens and no cars.  I have to admit that I couldn't live in such a remote area, but it's wonderful for a visit.  What do you think?  Would you prefer a resort and spa?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wednesday in Wyoming -- October 31, 2012

'Tis the season, not for Santa Clauses and Christmas trees but for goblins and scarecrows.  I found this one in the Children's Village at the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens.  Did you notice that the head is a birdhouse and that the side says "go away crow"?  Those poor crows don't get any respect, do they?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wednesday in Wyoming -- October 24, 2012

Wyomingites are proud of the state's firsts -- first national park (Yellowstone), first national monument (Devils Tower), first women's suffrage, first female governor, but did you know that those firsts extend to maps too?  In 1949, the Wyoming state map was the first in the country to have airbrushing that created shaded relief like you see here, making the mountains look higher than the surrounding plains.  Who knew?  I certainly didn't.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wednesday in Wyoming -- October 17, 2012

Before I moved to the West, I had read a lot about false fronts on buildings, but I hadn't seen too many other than in movies.  As far as I can tell, they served no function other than making the building look more impressive, but they do make me wonder about the people who constructed them.  Surely they knew that it wasn't difficult to see that they were only a facade. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wednesday in Wyoming -- 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

Wednesday in Wyoming -- 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

Wednesday in Wyoming -- 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

Wednesday in Wyoming -- 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

Wednesday in Wyoming -- 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

Wednesday in Wyoming -- 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

Wednesday in Wyoming -- 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

Wednesday in Wyoming -- 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

Christmas in August?

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.

Happy reading.

Wednesday in Wyoming -- August 15, 2012

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

Wednesday in Wyoming -- 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

Wednesday in Wyoming -- 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 in Wyoming -- July 25, 2012

We're in the middle of Frontier Days, Cheyenne's biggest celebration of the year.  Although every day has a rodeo, a night event and dozens of activities for visitors, today features my favorite event, the USAF Thunderbirds show.  Each year I marvel at the beauty of the flight formations and the dedication to excellence that results in a truly awe-inspiring show. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wednesday in Wyoming -- 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

Wednesday in Wyoming -- 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

Wednesday in Wyoming -- July 4, 2012

Independence Day was a major event for the soldiers stationed at Fort Laramie, and even today it's a big day for visitors to the fort.  So, what better day could there be to show you another picture of the fort, this time with a flag as the centerpiece?  The parade ground was empty when I took this picture, but on July 4 it would have been filled with soldiers and their families, celebrating the day with parades, special foods and fireworks. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Celebrating New Book Cover

Did you hear the sighs of pleasure coming from Cheyenne?  I just received the cover art for Waiting for Spring, the second of the Westward Winds books and have featured the story of how it was designed in my most recent (July) newsletter    and on my web page's "Story Behind the Story" tab  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

Wednesday in Wyoming -- June 27, 2012

If you've read Summer of Promise, you know that one thing Abigail dislikes about Wyoming are the yuccas.  As you can see, although their blossoms are beautiful, the leaves are spiky and serrated -- a distinct hazard to anyone who walks too close.  Considering that women in that era wore long skirts, is it any wonder she disliked them?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Want to Help Me Name a Character?

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?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Bargain Priced E-Book

There are two reasons for this post.  First, if you haven't already gotten a copy of Summer of Promise for your e-reader, it's being offered at the special price of $2.99 for a few more days.   And, secondly, I've tried to automate the link from my blog to FB, and this gives me a chance to try the link before Wednesday.  I hope it works!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wednesday in Wyoming -- June 20, 2012

Where are all the cars?  Oh, wait.  This is Wyoming, the least populated state.