Jay and I drove down to Laramie, Wyoming, last week - the first time we've been back since 2007. I wanted to see my friends Sue (in middle) and Mary (at right). We've corresponded via email since I left to come back to Idaho to care for Mom, but emails are no comparison to seeing people you love in person.
I love statuary and the University of Wyoming has in recent years planted mythic images of the Old West across it campus. You may know that the bucking horse Steamboat and his rider is the image on the Wyoming license plate. It is also the official image of the university. While Jay was working at the university, a huge statue of Steamboat was erected outside the football stadium.
Later a large colorful statue of the Shoshone Chief Washakie was erected in front of the university's Washakie Center. The university is proud to educate members of the Shoshone and Arapaho tribes of the Wind River Reservation .
I was delighted with the newest installation (added spring 2015) near the athletic field titled "Breaking Through," in honor of Title Nine women, depicting a young woman in 1920s western garb on a bronco. It is enormous, intended to match "Steamboat." Her hat alone weighs 500 pounds. The wall is reminiscent of Wyoming sandstone blocks used to construct early university buildings (still in use).
There are plenty of nice hotels and restaurants in Laramie and it's a tourist draw in the summer. One of the nicest places to visit is the American Heritage Center and Art Museum, the building designed by architect Antoine Predock.
So, next time you fly into Denver and rent a car, drive two and a half hours north through Cheyenne to Laramie and spend a couple of days. And be sure to eat at the restaurant down on 1st Street (originally Railroad Street) and Ivinson, where you can watch trains go past on the old Union Pacific rails across the street. The restaurant's second floor and that of other buildings near the tracks were originally whorehouses attracting railroad workers and cowboys off the range, the university boys being too poor to indulge in that particular sin.