While most of Wyoming looks much the same as SW Idaho there are a few spots that are noteworthy in the form of scenery. Most of that is in the north and northwest such as the Wind River Range, Jackson Hole and the areas near Yellowstone. I did perk up enough to take a couple of pictures outside of Cheyenne when I saw an interesting rock formation or a bluff or two.
My dislike of Wyoming stems from my high school years where I recall 3 things vividly.
2. My freshman year of high school in Casper, Wyoming
3. Rebecca Thomson Brown and her 11 year old sister, Amy.
The wind is Wyoming fierce. This is a Wyoming windsock just outside Cheyenne. Wyoming snow fences.
In the summer it causes dust storms bad enough to sandblast the paint off your car and in the winter it can plunge the temperatures down to -45F, close the freeways off and is the reason Wyoming has about 900 miles of snow fences along I 80.
My family moved to Casper in my freshman year of high school and I spent that time scared, lost and bewildered. It was larger than any school I’d ever been to with some 3,000 students in an old red brick gothic, three story building built between 1924-1941. If you were brave enough to enter the girl’s bathroom you walked into cigarette smoke so thick you could hardly see the stalls and if you were very lucky, no one would hassle you nor threaten to beat you up. During lunch time, daily fights took place outside the side doors between the cowboys and the stoners, with the girls far more violent than the boys. I’ve heard it’s now one of eight high schools in Casper. Had I not gone there and have such dismal memories I’d probably have liked the architecture but as it is, it reminds me of an old mental institution. I’ve recently read it’s in the process of being restored and renovated but I’ve never had the desire to return.
This is the old Natrona County High School in Casper, Wyoming.
Here’s a photo of the Napa State Hospital in California:
See any similarities?
The last item is my first exposure to heinous crimes of someone close to my own age. Because up until then I’d never even heard of anyone my age being abducted, raped and murdered it made a huge impression on me. In 1973, the two sisters, Rebecca and Amy, were “helped” by a couple of men when they had a flat tire outside a convenience store. The store was not far from where we lived and my siblings & I and friends had walked there together many times. The flat tire turned out to be a deliberate act on the part of the two men. Both girls were taken up to a place called Fremont Canyon. There is a 125 foot bridge up there spanning the canyon and after raping both girls, the men threw them over the bridge. The little girl, Amy, didn’t survive but the elder girl not only survived, she somehow managed to claw her way back up to the top of that canyon with two broken hips. I recall that part being the aspect that stuck with me the most. I think now that it was my awe of the will to live and the courage it took that sticks most in my mind. They did catch, try and both men went to prison, but the story has a far from happy ending and the justice I’d always hoped for didn’t seem to fit the crimes they committed. The full story can be read about in a book called “Fall: The Rape and Murder of Innocence in a Small Town” by Ron Franscell. I didn’t read this book until just a few years ago and sometimes I wish I hadn’t. Not that Mr. Franscell didn’t do a good job writing it; it’s just not the ending I’d hoped for.
And then of course, long after I left, there is the murder of Mathew Shepard in 1998. Mathew was born in Casper and also went to Natrona County High School. So I think I can be forgiven for my negative feelings for the state. The same kind of people who killed Matthew, Rebecca and Amy, the same kind of people at high school who couldn’t tolerate anyone different than themselves and had to beat each other up over it, still seem to live there.