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In cultural hubs like Denver, Austin and Rock Springs, it is difficult to imagine a world without food trucks. But here in Casper, it is the harsh reality we’re facing. Try as we might to fill our summer with splash pads and parades and rocking the block, we know that the truest essence of summer is that which wafts overhead in the pungent mixing of varied food vapors. This is a smell I’ve nearly forgotten since the drought began.

It was slow at first. Last summer, it felt as if we were in the midst of a food truck boom as certain downtown businesses helped the trucks become more abundant and accessible. Those were the early days. Back then, it was a state of euphoria for those of us stupid enough to think the grilled cheeses, street dogs, gyros, pizzas, fish & chips and snow cones would never come to an end. We were naive, but how could we have guessed our truest bliss would be so temporary?

The vendetta became apparent last year as downtown restaurant owners (like, two specific ones — let’s be honest) waged a campaign against the increase in truck visibility. Said restaurant owners claimed to see less business as new, mobile options began to pop up on occasion downtown. These restaurant owners concluded that their lack of patrons had absolutely nothing to do with the quality of said restaurants and everything to do with the destruction and societal decay that food trucks always famously leave in their wake.

Maybe we all should have seen it coming. After all, Casper indisputably has a long history of downtown vendors bullying newcomers into submission, calling for ludicrous parking laws and nurturing a mutually beneficial relationship with a city council so ineffective, it seems like a punchline from a bad television show. But despite all of that, I don’t think any of us quite foresaw what a giant joke the whole thing would become.

In the war between food trucks and restaurants in Casper, restaurants currently hold the advantage. Their rhetoric, appeals to city council and crafty ploys have successfully pushed most of the food trucks off of the streets (if not out of town entirely). One may find the faintest aroma of street fare at a festival or event, but regulations have caused the trucks to disappear from the casual dining scene almost entirely. Those that remain are a mere skeleton of the smorgasbord we once knew.

So, now the question remains: what am I supposed to do all summer if I can’t get a personal pizza from the side of a truck any time I want? Below is my list of ways to try to enjoy your summer even though food trucks have been violently ripped from the already bleak landscape of your one and only life.

1. Donate to help children stuck in concentration camps at the border.

Have you ever caught yourself thinking that every child has the right to safety and protection? If so, you might consider spending the time you would be waiting in line for a delicious treat and instead donating to KIND, RAICES, NWDC, NWIRP or any other organizations accepting monetary donations. Donations can help with everything from supplies to legal fees.

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2. Contact your elected officials and inquire what they intend to do about the border crisis.

Do you think it’s weird that there are children who have been separated from their parents and held in concentration camps right here in the United States of America in 2019? If so, you might consider spending time during your food-truckless summer calling, emailing or writing letters to your local representatives to encourage them to use their platform to speak against concentration camps.

3. Donate goods to children at the border.

If you’re anything like me, it strikes you as odd that with a budget of $775 per child per night, ICE can’t seem to come up with enough food, blankets and other accommodations for children being held in concentration camps at the border. Luckily, you can spend the money you would have spent at food trucks on goods, which you can donate directly to the children being held in these heinous facilities through Immigration Nexus — a nonprofit program dedicated to creating a reliable platform by providing immigrant families with resources, contacts and information needed to legal advocacy, shelters, churches, consulates, nonprofit organizations, healthcare centers and many other such services in the United States and elsewhere, according to their mission statement.

Those are all the best tips I have. They may not be as delicious as fresh street cuisine, but I hope these suggestions help you find ways to fill the time you would have otherwise spent eating foods that were prepared inside of vehicles this summer. And remember, even when it’s hot outside, abolish ICE.

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Alex Johnson is a Casper native best known for being “pretty weird to talk to” and “making people uncomfortable with intense eye contact.” What she lacks in social decorum, she makes up for in trivial musings and being good at three or four things. Love or hate something she writes? Feel free to drop her a line — missalexjohnson@gmail.com.

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