The question is coming up more often these days.
“Are you guys going anywhere for the holidays?”
And the answer, while not as exciting as others I’ve heard, has been more satisfying than I would have imagined.
“We’re actually done traveling for the year. We’re going to stay here, just the two of us and our cats, and have a cozy, quiet time at home.”
It’s not that my boyfriend and I don’t want to see our family members. We adore them and can’t wait to see them whenever the next rendezvous occurs. But trying to travel from Wyoming in the depths of winter is best left to those with an adventurer’s spirit and a flexible schedule, and for once it’s nice to simply opt out.
We did recently travel east to see my family for a few days over Thanksgiving, and it was pretty much perfect. I got to spend time with some of my very favorite people in the universe, and we had no travel delays. We did drive to Denver to catch a flight back to the Midwest, but that’s just part of living in Wyoming. The roads must have been in an unusually benevolent mood — they were clear just when we needed them to be — and the flights were flawlessly on time. We had no complaints at all.
But twice in the last year, I’ve been stranded overnight — once in Denver and once in Salt Lake City — and while I was treated kindly by everyone I encountered during both delays, those experiences did underscore the importance of building an extra day or two into your itinerary for cushion when you live in our beautiful but largely rural state. There’s nothing like seeing the snow-covered mountains out of the window of the plane into Casper after you’ve unexpectedly spent the night in an airport hotel.
Maybe that’s the issue — perhaps we don’t have travel infrastructure and options like other states because, well, once you’re here in Wyoming, why would you need to go somewhere else?
But family members do sometimes annoyingly insist on living in their own homes across the country in the state you all grew up in rather than admitting that the obvious solution is uprooting their lives and moving everything out West like a rational person.
And as long as that is the case, we will continue to pack our bags, battle ground blizzards for hours, rush aboard planes and cross our fingers that the weather decides to cooperate. Or, in the case of my last delay, we would have had to cross our fingers that even one of the onboard lavatories was successfully flushing. (This was not the case, which apparently means the plane cannot take to the sky until maintenance addresses the issue.)
Wherever you’re going this winter — whether it’s across town or across the world — I wish you safe travels, warm memories, functional lavatories and a happy, happy return to our little square on the map.
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.