Wyoming memories

Boise State today plays the University of Wyoming in Laramie. Josh Allen, who last year was Wyoming’s quarterback, is now with the Buffalo Bills in the NFL and is by most accounts is doing very well.

I like Wyoming. Despite it bordering Idaho, I’ve only been to Wyoming four times. Three of those were trips to Yellowstone National Park with family. The fourth time, I was on my way to Oklahoma to meet up with my wife’s family. We drove from Boise through Utah, Wyoming, Colorado and Kansas to get to Oklahoma in June of 2009. It was my first time meeting my wife’s grandmother, and it turned out to be my last chance, as she died that fall. It was also the first time I met my wife’s aunt, two of her nephews and several of her cousins. I was not a fish out of water. Idaho and Oklahoma people didn’t seem at all different to me.

Driving across the southern part of Wyoming, I remember being glad the car had a CD player. The scenery, although relatively pretty, didn’t change much for hundreds of miles. Grasslands as far as the eye could see.

It stayed that way until we came across something of which Wyoming has many: windmills. Idaho has them, too. They’re taller than most buildings and appear to have blades moving very slowly. Driving over a small hill, I didn’t just see one or two. There were instantly hundreds of them. That’s when some sort of flashback to the past happened in my mind. With moving blades, the giant structures appeared to be walking across the plains. As we drove straight toward them, I shuddered and felt instant chills. I don’t know which movie I was reacting to, but I was scared for a few brief moments. It may have been “War of the Worlds”. Possibly “Transformers” or “The Empire Strikes Back” or some movie with giant walking spiders. All I knew was that there were enormous alien beings, and they were headed right for our car. Fortunately, the feeling passed, and the windmills weren’t really walking anyway.

I’ve lived in Idaho my entire life so far, and the first time I traveled to the eastern part of the United States was in April of 1997. My first wife and her sister and I flew to New York City. We went to the Statue of Liberty and to the top of the Empire State Building and one of the World Trade Center towers. We went to see the Broadway musicals “The Phantom of the Opera”, “Les Miserables” and “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”. We sat in the audience for the TV show “Live with Regis and Kathie Lee”, and we saw Barry Manilow perform at Radio City Music Hall. That’s the actual reason we went to New York in the first place. My wife and her sister were lifelong Barry Manilow fans, and he was performing five consecutive nights at Radio City. They went to four of the shows. I went with them one night, but the other three nights I went to a Knicks basketball game at Madison Square Garden and two Broadway plays, “The Young Man from Atlanta” and “The Last Night of Ballyhoo”. I would have gone to a baseball game, too, but the Yankees were out of town, and I bought a ticket to see the final game of a Mets homestand, but it was rained out.  I did have a lovely train ride from Manhattan to Queens and back, though.

I always wished my parents could travel, but they’ve never been east. They’ve driven around Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Utah, Nevada, Montana and Wyoming, and they’ve flown to Hawaii twice, which isn’t bad. One of my trips to Yellowstone was in 1977, and I was with my mom and dad when they traveled to the most eastern point of their lives. We were in a camper, didn’t have reservations anywhere, and one night we stayed in a KOA just west of Cody, Wyoming. So the farthest east either of them has been to is a town in Wyoming named after Buffalo Bill.

Enjoy the football game tonight. And unless it’s your thing, try not to think of Barry Manilow.  It isn’t the 70’s or 80’s anymore, so the band at halftime isn’t likely to play “Copacabana”, but you never know.