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This past weekend, Mark and I traveled out to the wild, wooley west to see Marcy, my oldest friend from growing up, get married in a four-day wedding extraveganza.  Wyoming is truly beautiful this time of year… if you can escape the snow, which unfortunately we didn’t.  But we had an enormously fun time seeing everyone, attending parties, and participating in a beautiful ceremony that took place inside the warmth and love of our childhood church while the wind and snow blew in heaps outside.

We flew in to Casper, an oil and gas town of about 60,000, elevation more than 5,280′ in the mountain plains of Wyoming, on a beautiful fall day.  I’ve actually never flown in to Casper during this time of year when the prairie cottonwoods and grasses have turned bright golds and oranges, contrasting against the evergreen junipers and lodgepole pines.  By the time I get home it’s already winter and everything is dead and frozen over, or during the summer fresh in bright green.  As we flew over the bluffs I was struck with the colors and how the flora stratifies just like the rock it grows on.

It was a 60 degree day, but much like New England–all we had to do was wait a minute and the weather would change.

Casper is home to many things, from one of the largest oil and gas industries in the lower 48 to Lou Tauberts Ranchwear with FIVE FLOORS of boots and hats and chaps and wranglers and lassos and bolo ties and big buckles and carharts and all kinds of western awesomeness.  The city is surrounded by ranches and farms and cattle, and more North American antelope per square mile than people.  But the one thing I suppose one could say Casper is famous… or infamous… for is… the Beacon.  A bonafide cowboy bar.

And yes, that’s right.  It says “Where the cowboys go SNEAKIN'”  And OHHH MY… do they ever.  And not just young cowboys.  Old ones too.  And cowgirls.  And cowladies.  They do the two-step to live music and then dance the night away to a DJ.  This is an incredible site to see.  Believe me–I am not making fun of this, the moves these people have are amazing.  One dance in particular they do is called the “Casper Slide.”  I don’t know exactly how it became the “Casper Slide,” because the dance doesn’t have anything characteristically Casper in it… just some kicking and stepping and twisting around.

I tried to catch a video of my friends doing this special dance (they are in the background… the girl with the veil is my friend Marcy), but a woman who was very in to her Casper Sliding stepped right in and stole the limelight… anyhow.  Watch and you’ll get the idea… both about the dance and about the awesomeness of the Beacon.

All Sneakin to the Beacon silliness aside, the wedding was beautiful and sweet and lovely.  We laughed and cried.  We took too many pictures.  We watched our friend become Mrs. Marvel.  We ate salmon caught by Marcy’s father and bacon-wrapped cheese-filled jalapenos (well, Mark did in any case–I stuck to the cheesy potatoes!).  We danced and drank too much wine.  And did I mention it snowed?  It did.  During the wedding and the reception and all through the night until more than a foot blanketed some areas and we all threw rose petals at Marcy and her Eric as they bundled into the limo and we all slid home to our warm beds.

In the morning, I awoke to this:

The snow kept us home one extra day due to a late flight and a would-be missed connection.  It was nice to be home, even for what only seemed like a minute, where the old dogs still love you and your bed is made just the same way it used to be.  The smells are there–for me it’s cider and something good cooking on the stove mixed with something I can’t categorize but that feels so familiar.  The colors and the weather and the dogs and the smells… they all remind me that no matter where I may be, Wyoming will always be my home.

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