On my first day at the Star-Tribune, I showed up to the office 16 minutes early.
The commute from my apartment was four minutes (barely enough time for one song in the car!), and I’d given myself 20. The next day, and every day I went into the office on Star Lane after that, I budgeted five minutes for the drive.
Now that we’re out of the old building, my commute is even shorter, and I get to do it on foot. I’d estimate it takes me about a minute or two to get from my place to our temporary workspace on Collins and Center.
My old commute was nice — I liked checking the progress on the construction of the new state office building, passing Natrona County High School and checking gas prices at Loaf ‘N Jug on my way to work.
But on foot, I get to appreciate the things I see heading into work much more (and the nice weather recently makes the walk downright pleasant, no matter how much work is waiting for me at the office). Casper definitely isn’t built for walking around, unless you’re right downtown, but there’s something about hitting the pavement that makes me feel so much more connected with the city.
I usually get to say hi to a few neighbors who are smoking out in front of my building as I head out. If I’m lucky, I’ll see one of the stray cats that lurks in the neighborhood too.
I can see people getting bikes fixed at Mountain Sports, and smell bacon cooking at The Cheese Barrel, which always makes my hasty breakfast before work seem like a sorry excuse for a meal.
I walk past Frosty’s before it opens for the day, through an invisible cloud of cigarette scent left over from the night before and thousands of nights before that.
I pass the offices of a couple local experts that helped me with some of my earliest stories in Casper. And when I walk by Bush-Wells, I scan the clearance rack in the window where I found one of my most prized T-shirts (it says “WYOMING STRONG” and has a cartoon cowboy shooting at a giant COVID molecule).
Finally, I reach our temporary office. And when I go home for lunch, I get to do the walk all over again.
We’ll soon be in our new office on North Ash Street, in the building that once housed the Sandbar and now holds Wyoming Bootlegger Liquor (they’re having a pretty good going-out-of-business sale in the meantime, if you’re interested). I might try to walk there, too, but we’ll see if I stick it out once the cold and the colder winds come back to Casper. But for now, I’m enjoying my commute while it lasts.
Let me know the little rituals that keep you connected with Casper, or let me know your favorite neighborhood to walk around while the weather’s still nice. As always, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307-266-0544.
Follow city and crime reporter Ellen Gerst on Twitter at @ellengerst.