FROM THE FARM:
CROSSROADS OF THE WEST
Published in the Casper Journal August 18, 2010
I had never heard of Casper, Wyoming before my husband interviewed here. Now, it’s on the travel itinerary of everyone I know—family, friends, even long-lost acquaintances.
In the early days, pioneers and the Pony Express blazed trails here. In fact, their paths run right past my house. This summer has taught me that “trekking” through Casper hasn’t ended yet.
Living in Las Vegas was like living in the center of the universe. It was convenient to fly to or through, and everyone seemed to stop there while traveling to Disneyland, the Grand Canyon, or any other southwest attraction. I couldn’t imagine that living in Casper would be anything similar. However, once summer started, we suddenly found ourselves on everyone’s vacation route.
First, my sister came from Chicago. She and her husband brought their five children on their way to Denver (are we on the way to Denver?) and loved their visit to Wyoming. A few days later, my sister from Tucson drove through with her family. They were traveling to Yellowstone, and of course, Casper was right on their way. Less than a week later, my sister in Montana decided to stop by for a visit. By this time, the neighbors were getting confused about how many sisters I had. It did help that one sister was pregnant, but other than that, they all looked the same. When I was out for my morning walk, I introduced my Montana sister.
“She’s here with her seven children,” I smiled.
“You sure seem to have a lot of family,” my neighbor said hesitantly.
We thought we were at the end of our visitors, but received an email from our German friends. They were in the United States for a few weeks and wanted to see our new home in Wyoming. I was afraid that the amber rolling prairies would be a disappointment compared to the lush, green hills of Germany. But when we ate our dinner outside and looked for miles at the country around us, they were thrilled.
“You can see very far in America,” was their reply. They even picked some sagebrush to press and take home with them.
Once our international visitors left, I was sure my summer hosting was over. But then the phone rang.
“Hi!” It was my long lost high school friend. She was driving through from Michigan with her husband and six children. “We’d love to stop by,” she chattered. It had been eight years since I’d seen her last, so what could I say? They arrived in a family van and soon all of their children (the same ages as ours) were running across the lawn, having a water fight and chasing bunnies.
By now the summer was more than half over. But the visitors didn’t stop. With just a day’s notice some old friends from Las Vegas “dropped by” on their way to Jackson. And later, more family from Utah drove through at the end of their Midwest travels.
“Wow,” my husband commented. “I never knew Casper was so central.”
We thought Wyoming was the end of the earth, but instead found that it was right on the highway of life. That’s o.k. Visitors are an incentive to clean my house, to weed my garden, and to make a delicious meal. So, I suppose they’re ultimately a benefit to my family. And, we’ve seen so much extended family and friends this summer that we’ll consider ourselves “visited” for a while.
Still, I’m sure there are more to come. In fact, my cousin is arriving tomorrow, and my in-laws just called and told us about a family reunion they are planning, just an hour away. The pioneers and Pony Express started a tradition that hasn’t ended. I think Casper is another word for crossroads, the Crossroads of the West.
Nettie Francis is the editor of The Wyoming Woman Magazine.