Last week it seventy degrees, sunny, and we were picnicking in the park. This week we’re shoveling sidewalks, scraping windshields, and making new friends for ourselves out of fresh snow. Spring in Wyoming is never uninteresting.
One of the downsides of living and voting in Wyoming is that the state doesn’t have much pull in presidential elections and what pull it does have always goes to the GOP. (Not passing political judgment here, just saying that the outcome is more or less guaranteed.) The silver lining is that for smaller-scale politics, our individual votes count for a lot more. This includes party primaries. A few left-leaning members of our cohort gathered at the Laramie Ice Recreation Center on Saturday for the Democratic Caucus. Leading up to the part of the caucus where citizens spoke on behalf of the candidates, the atmosphere was decidedly festive.
In the end, Albany County (where Laramie is located; for some insane reason, it’s not located in Laramie County) sided with Bernie Sanders, with Sanders getting 75% of the vote. Below, you can see Sanders supporters on the right and Clinton supporters on the left.
Over the past several months, several conversations have taken place here at the University of Wyoming regarding the way that the Creative Writing program supports (or fails to support) its people of color and other marginalized minorities. Some of these conversations have been difficult and have forced us to confront the realities of life in Laramie and at UW. Kristine Sloane, who contributes to the blog “The MFA Years,” recently published a post titled “Challenging the Whiteness of MFA Programs: A Year in Confrontations at UW.” It’s an important story to tell, not only for those of us here in Wyoming but for those in MFA programs across the country.
Neltje, a friend of the Creative Writing Program, has generously offered use of her cabins along Crazy Woman Creek in the Bighorn Mountains to MFA students. Last weekend, Brad Watson and six graduate students drove up from Laramie to spend the weekend enjoying the outdoors.
The road to “Big Crazy,” the biggest of Neltje’s cabins, and the only one with running water and electricity.
Kat Williams, apparently ecstatic to be on the porch of Big Crazy.
Ammon Medina and Alec Osthoff look down onto the valley from the porch of Big Crazy.
The view descending from the mountains on a very primitive two-track.
“Mini Crazy,” the primitive cabin closest to Big Crazy, which sits just beside Crazy Woman Creek. It’s heated by a wood stove, which we had to feed through the night, as it dipped into single digits outside.
Liz Kulze, Kat Williams, Carly Fraysier, Alec Osthoff, and Ammon Medina hike a trail up to “White Lightning,” another of Neltje’s primitive cabins.
Beautiful rock formations along the trail that Neltje has appropriately named the “good rocks.”
In the last few days we’ve gotten almost eight inches of snow and temperatures have dropped into single digits. The town is beautiful under a fresh snowfall and, when the clouds thin and the sky shows, the snow is tinted blue. Our new, warm-weather arrivals have been learning how to drive in the snow without fishtailing, the virtues of mukluks, and how to downhill sled on inverted recycling bin lids.
Photo: Liz Kulze
A number of us had the pleasure of reading to a small but incredibly attentive and appreciate group in Rawlins, WY yesterday. The reading took place at the Carbon County Career & Tech Ed Center. Before the reading, the center’s director, Dave Throgmorton, who also helped put together the reading, gave us a tour of the facility. (Above, Dave shows us a CNC router, a machine used to mass-produced highly detailed wood work, used mostly for cabinetry.) It was really cool to see the way that Dave and his colleagues are using the center to create career opportunities and address their community’s needs and to get a better understanding of the relationship between natural resource industries and local community in a small Wyoming town.
Lilly Schneider, Dominick Duhamel, Carly Fraysier, and Trey Williams all read from their work; a local theater student read from Maria Anderson’s work. After, we all had dinner at Buck’s Sports Grill in Rawlins, where episodes of Full House were playing in the bathroom.
It is the end of October and it is still a lovely 70 degrees outside. This is unbelievable (at least to me). I am pretty sure last year this time it was already freezing. The Aspen and Cottonwoods managed to remain orange and yellow for a lot longer. A few of us decided to hike the Sheep Mountain Trail an hour outside of town.