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Clouds over Casper

Low-hanging clouds, as seen from Casper Mountain, blanket Casper on Monday, Feb. 5, 2018.

Alan Rogers, Star-Tribune

Those of us who love to explore and travel would be forgiven for feeling a little hemmed in right now.

It’s early March in Wyoming, which means true springtime weather is just around the corner — so close we can sense it — but for now, all we can see are gray skies, brown grass and piles of muddy, slushy snow. We’re mired in the in-between season.

And there truly are so many beautiful places to dream of. We here in Casper might be yearning to see the peaks of the Tetons, the Snowies or the Winds. We might be remembering the walk around Devils Tower on a sweaty summer day, or a hike in Yellowstone. We might be thinking ahead to camping, fishing, hiking and all the other activities that let us celebrate living in our state, which is both beautifully wild and wildly beautiful. And while the bravest and most dedicated among us might not let the weather stop them, most of us will sigh and be patient just a little longer.

Look closer, though, and the wait’s not so bad. This is the time of year to look beyond the dull colors we drive by and fully appreciate all we have at home. It’s the time to remember that even here, slightly removed from the soaring peaks and magnificent valleys, there is a quieter kind of beauty. We can celebrate our mountain, just a dash from the middle of town, and all the opportunities for adventure it provides. We can celebrate our community — the people and businesses who call the Casper area home. If we look for it, we can even find strength and unity in tragedy, as when downtown Casper businesses banded together over the weekend to contribute to the victims of the fire above the Alpenglow health store.

High school state sports competitions in recent weeks have only underlined this. If you saw the groups crowding Casper restaurants — as well as Target and Hobby Lobby — you know that these visitors also see our hometown as a destination. These teams are here because they performed successfully and have reached the state’s highest level of competition, but the fact that these events are held in Casper — home of stores and restaurants not found in Wyoming’s smaller cities — certainly adds to the fun and excitement.

And there really is fun to be had here! Even in these still-chilly months, we can grab a jacket and a hot cup of coffee and enjoy the lovely David Street Station. We can walk by the river, provided we can withstand the wind, and survey our cloudy mountain with pride. We can duck into local shops and eateries found nowhere else in the world, and we can enjoy the convenience and consistency of chain establishments, too, if that’s what we’re after.

World-class destinations are at our doorstep, yes. People come from continents away to see the Tetons and other Wyoming sights, and for good reason — they are majestic and unforgettable. But it’s important to remember that Casper is a destination in its own right. We enjoy a winning combination of convenience and natural beauty, and so many of the people who have chosen to live here are strong and supportive.

So yes, we’ll wait out these last few chilly weeks and remember all we have that others would love. Soon, it’ll be easy to adventure again. But after all our explorations and journeys, we will be lucky to come back to the heart of our square state, full of everything that makes a city a home.

Mandy Burton, a former Star-Tribune opinion editor, currently works for Make-A-Wish Wyoming in Casper. Her column about life in Casper and Wyoming has appeared on this page since 2016.


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