It was sunny when we left home.

By the first beautiful notes of the “The Star-Spangled Banner,” a light mist was in the air. It didn’t feel like it was raining, but there were droplets on the coats in front of us.

Soon, we were drenched.

Sixth grader Leah’s signs from Lingle were getting soaked. One of her best of the year debuted that night: “Sackville,” with a green street sign showing the intersection of 91st and Granderson.

Craig from Highlands Ranch struggled to find the hole for his head in his poncho. Mostly, it just dripped on me.

The line of grads behind us decided that “beer and TV,” sounded good and left between quarters.

By halftime, we knew that the drive home would be a beast, and get worse the later it got.

By the time we got to the truck, it was the kind of snow that makes visibility impossible with headlights illuminating it. Ten miles out of town, the phone rang.

The brother, watching from Lubbock, had seen the weather, worried about us, and used rewards points to get us a room.

“Turn around,” he said. “You gotta use this room. I can’t get my points back.”

A brief vocal discussion ensued inside the truck. The friend thought we would drive out of the storm and was worried about the dog.

I was worried about driving in the dark when we didn’t have to.

For once, I won with a big assist from the generosity of my brother.

So there we were, without toothbrush or toothpaste, medication, a book, or the dog, or any clothes that didn’t say disparaging things about the sheep.

Things happen when the Pokes come from behind to beat the sheep.

Things get a lot crazy in a hurry.

The hotel was ridiculously understaffed.

Perhaps the weather was a surprise, but a home game against the arch rival certainly was not.

We met great people — the mother of a redshirt freshman who comes to all home games to “practice” what it’s like to be in Laramie.

One of the coolest Cowboys of them all said I couldn’t bake for him in return for his awesome yellow shoes because it would be against NCAA rules.

“Besides,” he said, “you don’t want these. They smell really, really bad.”

When finally it was time to leave the lobby, several generations of one of the most well-known ranching families around was standing in a corner. As they saw us approach, the patriarch started “Ragtime Cowboy Joe,” and for about the millionth time that night, we sang every syllable — in what we thought was perfect pitch.

The friend warned about tweeting when I had been slightly over-served. “You and Trump need to get off that Twitter,” he said. At least I was still limited to 140 characters at a time.

Don’t leave home without a toothbrush, toothpaste and a book so that you can fall asleep.

Mostly, I was awake. I just stood and looked out the window at the illuminated lights spelling “War Memorial Stadium,” with fresh snow on the ground. After a while, the traffic stopped.

And I was alone with my thoughts. And I knew that it had been a night for the ages.

Follow community news editor Sally Ann Shurmur on Twitter @WYOSAS


Sally Ann Shurmur arrived at the Star-Tribune to cover sports two weeks after graduating from the University of Wyoming and now serves as community news editor. She was raised in Laramie and is a passionate fan of Cowboys football, food and family.

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