Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Showing Them a Thing or Two

My friend Jenn T. and her husband Mike came into town last night and we all went to breakfast this morning to catch up.

I suggested the Luxury Diner, my go-to for fine diner dining. (Trying saying that 10 times fast.)

Surprisingly, Jenn, a Cheyenne native, had never heard of my favorite little breakfast stop. Not surprisingly, they were both delighted.

After her Santa Fe platter, Jenn declared she would bring her grandma there and make sure her sister and brother-in-law were aware it existed.

Yep, that's right, look at the new girl showing the native a thing or two!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Catch-Up

My first Christmas to host has come and gone. I think everyone had a fun time and I was really excited people were here.

Below are some pictures from the big weekend!

My beautiful tree and the boys on our Christmas morning...

I made the Pioneer Woman's cinnamon rolls for our Christmas breakfast...

Mom and the boys with forks high about to dig in...

Later that night, Mom and I slaved over the stove making our Christmas dinner...

Tensions sometimes ran high. It felt like an episode of Hell's Kitchen!

Meanwhile, as Mom and I worked in a hot kitchen, the rest of the family lounged...

...and relaxed...

...some with sugar plums dancing in their heads...

Finally, dinner is almost done and everyone is ready to eat...

Here I am carving our giant ham...

And, one of my favorite pictures of the weekend: Aunt Kimmie and Judd...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Christmas Comparison

I have a lot of posts about the differences between D.C., and living in the West.

Today, I have a comparison.

I made a rather huge mistake in going to Wal-Mart today. Yeah, I know...Wal-Mart on Christmas Eve day. Not smart.

But I needed to get groceries for when my family comes tomorrow and I thought Wal-Mart would be the most cost effective place to get this done. It was. But it was also the most out-of-control location in the whole town, I think.

Traffic was bad, drivers were bad, crowds were bad - all like D.C.

And then it happened. I nearly had an altercation in the parking lot. Like an I-want-to-get-out-of-my-car-and-get-in-your-face altercation. The kind of feelings/incidents I would have in D.C., on nearly a daily basis.

No matter what those of you who know me might believe, I HAVE become a more lenient, nicer person since being here. I let things slide much, much more than I ever, ever did in D.C.

Today? Nope, couldn't do it. It is the first time I actually leaned long and hard on my car horn with some very choice words for the idiot driver. Now, I had actual words in Colorado Springs earlier this year with another idiot driver, but it had yet to happen here.

So, I left Wal-Mart feeling decisively un-Christmassy, and wishing very un-Christmassy things on that driver.

I am over it now, and very much in the mood to celebrate Christmas, as you will soon see in my next post...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Small World Spinning

This morning I went to my first spinning class at my new gym. I was so proud!

I attended a class pretty regularaly in D.C., but haven't been to one since leaving. The bikes are different than what I'm used to (but are really nice) and the music was hard to get in to (definitely not my old instructor's playlist, which was super fun and so many times finished with techno Whitney Houston. Oh, Stacy.) I think my new classes will be good though, and the instructors all look really hardcore.

Funny story: I got to the gym early to fiddle with the new bikes and get myself adjusted. I was having trouble getting it figured out and asked the second guy there for some advice.

As we chatted it came out that I had rather recently moved back from D.C. He seemed intrigued, "Do you know Alison McGuire?" I sure do!

Turns out the man helping me was her dad. I knew Ali in D.C., and her sister from college.

Who knew the world of spinning was so small?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Road Kill - Something Squirrley Going On

I would like to share an observation I realize is rather odd:

There are lots of dead squirrels in Cheyenne.

Don't get the wrong idea - it's not like piles of dead squirrels are just lying on the sidewalks. It's that they just don't seem to be able to make it across the street. Ever.

I never really noticed this to be an issue in D.C., where with so much traffic you'd think it might be. Here, however, I noticed probably no less than one squished squirrel a day last week alone.

And yes, I know I have now solidified any speculation that there are less things here to occupy my time...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Tempting Fate

Last week I did something crazy. Something I would never do (except once - accidentally) in D.C.:

I left my car running while I ran into a store.

And it wasn't just any store. It was a liquor store. I needed to pick up a bottle of wine...

So, why in the WORLD would *I* ever do such a thing? Me who has three stolen car incidents to my name?

Well, because it was freakin' freezing cold, that's why, and I wanted my car to run a few minutes more before I forced it home.

Sure, I've taken some risks since being here...I've left my apartment unlocked, my car unlocked...but I had yet to leave it ready and waiting for someone to just take.

This is something I wouldn't advise doing in D.C., or most other places for that matter. But here...eh. I wasn't that concerned. And I wasn't the only one. There were any number of cars left running while their owners ran inside.

I figured safety in numbers, right? It worked this time, but I'm not sure how soon I'll be doing this again. It's probably still a good idea for me to not tempt fate.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Visitor

My friend Jamie, who I used to work with in D.C., came in last night to spend the weekend in Wyoming.

She's never been to Wyoming before and is really excited to see what it's like.

Watch out Wyoming!

And watch for some fun pictures to come...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Basketballs and Boots

I went with my friend Brandon to a Wyoming Cowboys basketball game last night - the first I've been to since graduating, as far as I can remember.

It was a lot of fun.

They played Western State College from Gunnison, Colo., which was an interesting choice. Thank heavens we won!

Since classes are out for the holidays there weren't many people there. It was a small crowd interested in following "their boys" even on a (super) frigid December night. I like going to those games where there's nothing but a bunch of old Wyoming codgers and others who want to watch come hell or high water.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Frigid Air(e)

Ok, this post has nothing to do with refrigerators except that I feel like I'm living in one.

It is -36 degrees outside today with windchill. What?!

So, instead of going to another free holiday concert today like I had hoped, I am staying inside making homemade chocolate chip cookies and popcorn.

It's hard to believe it's this cold today since yesterday afternoon was a balmy 49 degrees!

When I left for a holiday concert at the Cheyenne Civic Center at 7 p.m. it was starting to feel wintery. But when I came out the transformation in the weather was breathtaking. As in the cold literally took your breath away!

So, no outings today. It's all indoor activities with the heater cranked!

Here's a pic from last night's concert. It was free and featured the Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra, the Cheyenne Chamber Singers, and an all-city children's choral. It was really nice!

A Capital Christmas

The Governor's Mansion has hosted a couple holiday open houses this week, complete with free food and hot chocolate for anyone that wants to stop in.

Of course, I'm one of those people.

After the Christmas tea with the girls yesterday I decided to pop over and see what was up.

Wyoming is such an open and trusting state. Pulling in to the Governor's Mansion was like pulling into a relative's house. I parked the car in the drive and walked right up and into the house like I was going to borrow a cup of sugar.

Our first lady, Nancy (I feel like I could call her Nance...), helped greet visitor's at the door and later milled around mingling with all the people who had stopped in.

Inviting anyone and everyone into the residence to hang out and enjoy some pretty nice treats is a generous thing to do. And something I doubt many other governor's homes do. I thought it was a nice Wyoming touch.

I had been to the governor's house for dinner a couple times when I was in student government in college, but that was years ago. However, the place hasn't really changed much from what I can remember:

Walking up to the front door...

The living room area you enter just inside the front door. You can see the governor's Christmas trees in the back...

Round the corner to the back was quite the spread! It was much nicer than I expected. I thought maybe some Christmas candy and a few cookies, but there was stuff like spinach artichoke dip...

...as well as the candy and cookies. I really liked this tray of gingerbread folks. They were cute and for some reason funny to me...

From the food table looking back in to the living room...

They were giving tours of a new guest area created for overnight visitors, but my camera died about then. You'll just have to take my word that it was nice.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Tree Trimmings

My new ornaments on the tree:

My Harley ornament from Apes...

April's fake out ornament to me...

This year's White House ornament at the top of my tree..

Christmas Tea

The Nagle Warren Mansion in Cheyenne hosts an English-style tea every Friday and Saturday, and has a special Christmas menu around the holidays.

The mansion was built by Erasmus Nagle as a show place in 1888, when Cheyenne was apparently the wealthiest city of its size in the world. The mansion then became the home of Senator Francis E. Warren in 1910 who entertained the likes of Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and William Taft. It's now a bed and breakfast.

I had to do it.

The Laramie girls and I decided to make this our Christmas gathering and to do a little ornament exchange. It was reminiscent of another gift exchange we did about 12 years ago in the dorms at UW. This year, with all of us back in the state, and two of us with brand new homes to put trees in, we decided ornaments were it.

The mansion...

Our cute little table...

The holiday spread. I liked the ginger biscotti and double ginger cookies the best. Since I'm not a huge sweets fan I saved the mini ham and cheese sandwiches with cranberries for last. Yum!

The gals and I having a spot of tea in our nook...

April faked me out with a funny ornament - a snowman wearing a green bikini top with pinapples and a pink flamingo pool floaty around its waist. I really thought it was the ornament she chose for me, which was strangely perfect...

But the real one she got me was truly perfect. You can't really see it here, but it's a Harely Davidson ornament. I've referenced motorcycles a lot on here lately...

A sleeping cat on the "veranda" completes the Victorian home image...

Apparently, mini tarts and snickerdoodles don't fill some of the girls up. A drive through Arby's took care of that...

Merry Christmas from the girls of Wyoming!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Pied Pepper

Corona Village in Laramie used to be an old stomping ground for me in college.

I'm not a big fan of Mexican food, but for a poor college student, Taco Tuesdays, with super cheap soft and hard shell tacos...and beer, was a (weekly) treat.

The place opened a second location in Laramie off Grand Ave. called Corona Village-Andale Rapido, or Corona Rapido for short. I tried it a while back with my friend Jonah and the only thing I could really focus on was the "art work" on the walls. Jonah had told me about the paintings, but they were much, MUCH funnier in person.

Linds, Nate, and the Unintentional Camper all said they've never really noticed these. How? How?? And how could you eat for laughing? I know I could barely manage.

Take a gander:

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas Miracle!

My camera is found!

I called the restaurant I was at yesterday one last time this morning to see if it had turned up, but to no avail.

So, desperately sad, I walked out to my car to check around in the daylight and would you believe? There was my camera, laying in the leaves and dirt by the curb outside my car. It must have fallen out of my coat pocket on my way in last night.

This is truly a Christmas miracle!

And, lucky for you, I can now share all my tree-hunting/cutting pictures.

So many candidates. Which one will be going home with me...?

Paying little attention to anything else but the tree I had my eye on, I fell into a darn deep hole. Ok, to be fair to myself, it was covered by snow! Even if I HAD been watching where I was going I would have likely fallen. My friend Nathan thought it was pretty funny. It was...

After much searching I found my tree. No one can accuse me of not being a tree hugger!

Nathan hard at work with the saw. His dog Sierra is supervising...

Nathan gave a loud lumberjack yell..."TIMM-BER!"... and my tree was down. Note Sierra looking on satisfactorily at a job well done...

Nathan hauling the tree, and Sierra a leader once again. Look at the commanding way she forges ahead...

Packing up...

The Beartree in Centennial, Wyo. I've always wanted to eat here, but have never gotten around to it. The place is apparently known for their pizza, and that, with a beer (x2), is exactly what I wanted to complete my Currier & Ives tree-hunting day...

We had a couple of these each to compliment our delicious artichoke, black olive and chicken pizza. Yum...!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

My Fabulous Christmas Tree!

Today, I went into the mountains to get my Christmas tree.

Unfortunately, I can't find my nice digital camera and consequently can't share all the great pictures from the day. I'm hoping it will turn up, but until then here is a picture of my decked out tree from my camera phone. Not a great pic, but you get the gist...

Friday, December 5, 2008

Tree Hunting - Step 1

I got my permit today to cut down my Christmas tree!

I'm going tomorrow and can hardly wait!

As I've mentioned, this is my first very, very own tree. And I haven't been tree hunting - in the woods, anyway - for several years, so I'm super excited.

Look for more pictures this weekend from my tree-cutting excursion!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Ag Adventures Pics

Here are a few additional photos from mine and Matt's AgXpo outing a couple weekends ago...

The beginning: We were assigned a car from Travel and Tourism, several of which are wrapped. I was ecstatic!
Matt and I had lunch (ok, and a beer. A big one.) at the huge new Sanford's in Casper so we could download photos and catch a bit of the Wyoming/CSU game. There was a collection of motorcycles I was drawn to...

Ok, this Sanford's location is out of control with kitchsy crap. Outside there are GIANT statues of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck among other crazy things...

And some enormous rabbit turds...??

This is BY FAR my favorite picture of the day. Matt and I laughed 'til we cried (literally) joking about this thing...

Monday, December 1, 2008

Downtown Digs

I love this building.

It's the cowboy clothing shop downtown. This is the building with a moving horse and rider dangling off of it that I also love.

The Wrangler is part of Corral West, who's parent company is being bought out by a company called Boot Barn. The Wyoming stores aren't supposed to be a part of the deal. I'm glad, because even though the Boot Barn sounds like a good company, it's hard to imagine that on the skyline instead of "The Wrangler."

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Who Needs the Macy's?

Last night was Cheyenne's Christmas parade and I wasn't about to miss it!

It was a lot of fun - and pretty impressive. There were lots of floats - all of which were decked out in Christmas lights - and Santa at the end.

Overall a very enjoyable, albeit cold, night!

A sampling of the night...

Here they come...!

A little piece of Western heritage...a lighted covered wagon. Just like they did in the old days...

Of course I HAD to have this picture! There's a Harley Club of Cheyenne...one day...

The Grinch for mom...I think he's scary looking here...

Rudolf the red-nosed RV. If you look closely you can see the antlers by the side mirrors...

An old decked out tractor...

A mini train that snaked its way down the road...

Apparently, the area high schools have a snow scraper decorating contest each year. When you see these you know Santa's just around the bend!

And voila! There he is...