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Thanksgiving  in Wyoming

Peggy's Mountain
 This picture is from my sister, Peggy Laverdure

Our Thanksgiving Trip Back to Wonderful Wyoming
By Brandon Allshouse


After getting my almost brand new van for myself and Dad’s recent health scare with his left eye, the folks and I decided to hi-tail it back home to Wyoming for Thanksgiving.  We wanted to see the relatives, friends, and places we used to live at for the first time since 2002!


So on Saturday November 21st, we left Oklahoma City headed due west in some rather soupy fog.  As we pulled into Weatherford, about 2 hours west of OKC, to have a quick breakfast, we noticed that the fog was so thick you could cut it with a dull knife!  It wasn’t until we hit the Texas-Oklahoma state line that the fog finally lifted. 


We made it to Denver and our hotel, the Denver Tech Center Embassy Suites, around 6:00 (local time) that night.  We had a wonderful stay there.  The breakfast buffet the next morning was excellent although the bacon wasn’t very good.  It had no taste to it.


Afterwards we left to hi-tail it to Casper.  We had to arrive around 12 noon on that Sunday, November 22 to be at a local Pizza Hut on the east side of town.  We were meeting a couple of my dear friends, both of whom I’ve known as far back as kindergarten.  We got to the pizza joint around 12:30.  I had a blast seeing Heather Leatham and her father, both of whom my parents and I had known since I was about 4 years old, when they used to live across the street from us.  I also saw my old friend, Amber Richardson, whom I’ve known since kindergarten some 20 odd years ago.


We had to leave Casper to get up to Ralston, Wyoming, 16 miles northeast of Cody, by around 7 that night.  But before we left my wonderful hometown, we stopped by two houses we used to live in.  Both houses looked great and were updated quite nicely.  Casper has never looked so good and the town has really grown.


While driving up to Ralston, we did have an interesting and very Wyoming-like adventure.  Before driving through Meeteetsee, 31 miles southeast of Cody, we almost hit a very big whitetail deer who was trying to cross the road to go up a steep hill to look for food.  Had Dad who was driving not seen it out of the corner of his right eye, that deer would’ve ended our trip.  It was big enough to do some major damage to the front right side of the van, had we hit it.  Score one for paying attention to what’s going on around the vehicle at all times.  After that adventure, we made it to Ralston without any more problems.


We spent the week staying at my Grandmother’s new modular house.  It was built for her about a year ago.  After her retirement from the railroad, she wanted to move to as close to Cody as she could afford, since she absolutely loves the Cody area.


During the week, we did several things.  Dad and his oldest sister, Peggy, took a day trip around the mountains near Cody and took hundreds of pictures of the scenery and wildlife.  On that same day, Dad and Peggy met up with my mother and I over at the Cody Middle School to watch my cousin, Sam, play in a 8th grade basketball game against the Lovell Mustangs.  The Cody Cougars won easily.  Dad took several pictures of Sam playing.  After we got back from the trip, Dad made a DVD of the pictures and sent them to his brother, David, Sam’s dad.


One evening we drove to Powell and met friends, Becky and Tim at Hansel & Gretel’s.  Their daughter, Carrie, and her daughter, Taylor, also joined us.  The company was great but the service and food were nothing to write home about. 


Thanksgiving at my grandmother’s was nice.  My parents, Grandma, myself, uncle J.J., and his son, Jacob plus family friends, John and daughter, Janet, had a wonderful Thanksgiving meal.  My mother made a homemade apple pie from scratch.


The day after Thanksgiving, my parents and I went to Cody for another Thanksgiving dinner.  This time it was hosted by my wonderful Aunt Peggy.  Almost all of my dad’s brothers and sisters and their families came to Aunt Peggy and Uncle Jim’s house for a Thanksgiving buffet.  It was wonderful seeing relatives, most of whom I hadn’t seen in 15-20 years.  Aunt Peggy was a wonderful cook.  She made some foods that haven’t been made since before my fraternal grandmother passed away in 1986.


As with all good things, they have to end.  My parents and I left Ralston in the wee morning hours of Saturday, November 28.  On our way back home, we stopped in Thermopolis, and ate at a really nice restaurant called the Thermopolis Café’ for breakfast.  After eating, we got a Casper newspaper which had the exciting news about Wyoming’s big football win over much hated rival, Colorado State, the day before our trip home.  The win allowed Wyoming to play in its’ first bowl game since 2004.  Postscript here: Wyoming ended up winning the 2009 New Mexico Bowl in double overtime against Fresno State (CA), 35-28.


We made it to Denver that night and stayed at the new Embassy Suites in Loveland, CO.  It was an extremely good place to stay.  Before checking in we stopped at the Budweiser Brewery in Fort Collins and took the tour.  Budweiser Select was the best beer that I tasted in the free tasting room after the tour.


The next morning we went east towards Kansas instead of going back the way we came up thru New Mexico and Texas.  Since it was the Thanksgiving holiday, we saw a lot of highway patrol cars stopping speeders in Colorado and in Kansas.


Now throughout this entire vacation, we experienced construction in all of the states we went thru except for Kansas.  But nothing could prepare us for the mess we encountered as we were about to go to the Kansas-Oklahoma State Line (or border as some people say).  First off, we had forgotten that the weekend after Thanksgiving is one of the two busiest travel days for drivers each year.  As we approached Oklahoma, we noticed that the 3-lane highway, I-35, was getting really congested.  Then about maybe 3 miles just north of the Oklahoma state line, it happened.


The adventure started at about 7 p.m. local time.  At first we thought that a major car wreck had happened up ahead a ways.  As we slowly got closer to the situation, along with hundreds of other cars, trucks, minivans, etc….we noticed that cars were changing lanes as we kinda expected as with any situation regarding a wreck.  The entire time we’re in this, we are only going roughly 5-10 miles per hour.


As it turns out, it wasn’t an accident.  There was an area of construction on I-35 on the Oklahoma side to where 3-lanes of traffic had to merge down to one lane for 2-3 miles before becoming a 3-lane road again.  So, basically it took us over an hour to go a lousy 3-4 miles of highway!  Oklahoma politics at it’s best!


After we got through that mess, we were back to driving at the speed limit of 75 miles per hour so we could get home at a decent time as all three of us had be at work the next day.  I’m volunteering at the Oklahoma History Center.  As we’re hauling butt back home, we notice that almost very car is passing us, like we’re going slow.  Plus we noticed that at the first town after the construction mess, a lot of cars took the exit off the highway to get gas!  Surprisingly, not a single Oklahoma highway patrol car was seen going after speeders like we saw in Colorado and in Kansas.


The trip ended for us as we pulled into our driveway at around 9 p.m. It was a fun trip but it had a few “interesting” moments along the way.

Link to our pictures
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last modified March 12, 2013