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Katie’s Musings: Vacation

Cassie Williams
September 1 2017

I got back from vacation on Sunday, and I came home from church and took a 6 hour nap.
When I told a friend about that, I was informed that 6 hours of sleep is not a nap at any time, it is actually a full night’s sleep, but I say potato/po-tah-to.

My vacation began early a week prior with an 8 hour drive to a place I sort of remembered – the Snowy Range in southeastern Wyoming.  The only vacations my dad ever actually wanted to take were to the Snowy Range, though I hadn’t been there since I was 13.  It runs along the southern border of Wyoming, west of Laramie.  You leave that town and drive across these impossibly flat prairie lands on your way to Centennial, the mountains looming up ahead of you.  Clouds seem to stall above them, dark streaks down from them in drifts, delineating where the rain is and isn’t.  I said a quick prayer that the rain was not above where I was to be camping.

Earlier in the summer, in the recesses of my 20-year-old memories of the place while I was “planning” my trip, a name came to me:  Libby Creek.  I remembered camping there with my family on the banks of the creek, wading through the stream every morning, a chipmunk we named Chippy and fed pieces of bread.  That last time we went to the Snowy Range for vacation, Libby Creek was full up, so we ended up staying further up the mountain at Sugarloaf campsite, a place we were informed “wasn’t for wimps.”  I remembered us trying to hike that summer, and me getting altitude sickness because I was impatient to see the snow on the mountain across from where we set up our camper.

This summer, I pulled into Libby Creek and found a campsite on the creek pretty quickly.  Apparently the beetles that have run amok in that part of Wyoming (and the black hills… and pretty much anywhere with conifer trees for the beetles to make their home in) have killed a lot of the trees, resulting in much deforestation, so that particular campground is pretty open to the elements now.  But the creek was still there, and Chippy’s great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren greeted me almost immediately.

I learned pretty quickly that altitude still affects me, but the last full day there, I drove to Sugarloaf and hiked to the snow and beyond, around mountain lakes, viewing vistas that look too Bob-Ross-like to be real.  And I made friends and chatted with folks on the trail, met quite a few who love the Snowy Range and come every year because it feels like it’s home for them or because it is less popular and therefore less crowded than the Wyoming heavy hitters, like Yellowstone or the Tetons.  All the reasons why my dad loved it.  No lines, few people, just you and your camping gear and the great outdoors.  Though he would have been freaked to know I was out there camping by myself.

The campground host was an older gentleman from Scottsbluff.  The first night when he stopped by, I was like, “Oh good, my mom will be glad to know someone is looking out for me so I don’t get murdered!”  And it became a joke between us when he’d stop by to check on the campground every night:  “Still not murdered?”  “Nope I’m good!”  “Awesome!”  The last night I was there, he stopped by and we chatted for awhile.  Safety-wise, he told me, Snowy Range is about as safe as they come and they never have any problems there.

And then he asked, “Have you ever thought about concealed carrying?”  I must have looked slightly shocked or something, because he was like, “Not that I feel terribly strongly about such a thing in life, but if you’re going to camp by yourself as a single woman, it’s something to consider.”

Our conversation continued from there, but I couldn’t help to chuckle to myself.  It was exactly like something Dad would have said.  (Quote my mom, after the fact:  “Ha, he probably whispered it in that guys ear.”)

Places connect us to people and people connect us to places, and returning to beloved places where the mountains touch the sky and the air is clear and crisp and snow lies in pockets and the clearest lakes you’ve ever seen abound…. beautiful places of streams and trees and a chipmunk named Chippy’s descendents… places that meant something to you and to people you loved who are now gone…

Well, I’m not sure how to put it into words, other than, “Yes.  I had a wonderful vacation.”