Bill Sniffin: Empty Streets And A Busy Holiday Outside In The Cold

Like most house-bound Wyomingites, one of things that my wife Nancy and I like to do during this time of COVID-19 is go for an occasional ride around our little town.

Bill Sniffin

December 28, 20204 min read

Sniffin 1
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

By Bill Sniffin, Publisher

Like most house-bound Wyomingites, one of things that my wife Nancy and I like to do during this time of COVID-19 is go for an occasional ride around our little town.

On Christmas Day, we experienced an amazing sight.  Our super-long Lander Main Street did not have a single car or any other kind of vehicle parked along that street for its entire 2.7-mile length. Not one. From the golf course on the SE to the veterinary hospital on the NW, there was nary a single vehicle parked on either side of the street. 

Wow, it does not take much to get us old codgers excited but this was truly extraordinary. You know the old saying that it was so quiet you could shoot a cannon down Main Street and not hit anyone? Well on Christmas Day, that was true in Lander. 

Lander has a historic Main Street.  It was the original stagecoach road from the railroad station in Rawlins to the military post at Fort Washakie.  It also is the road to the southern entrance of Yellowstone National Park. 

Our Main Street is also extremely wide.  It has always been this way. Back in the day when big wagons were pulled by huge teams of oxen that needed to turn around, they could do it easily on our Main Street. 

The street is maintained by the Wyoming Dept. of Transportation (WYDOT) as U. S. Highway 287.  Now this federal highway is one of the most famous “diagonal” roads in the country.  

I used to be on the board of the Mountain West AAA, which had its main office in Helena.  When we would go to Helena for meetings, what was their main drag?  Why it was U. S. Highway 287. I think it continued on up to Canada, ending in Choteau, MT. 

When I would visit my late mom in Lafayette, CO, yep, there was U. S. Highway 287 as that little town’s Main Street. 

Here in Wyoming, this highway is also the main drag through Laramie, Rawlins, Fort Washakie,  and Dubois. 

When we visited our daughter Amber Hollins in Dallas, TX, again one of its main drags was U. S. Highway 287.  From Northern Montana to Texas, this road goes NW/SE for over  1,700 miles.  It is the longest federal highway with a three-digit designation. It ends up in Port Arthur, TX.

But anyway, it was quite a sight, COVID-19 or not, to see the usually busy Main Street in our town totally devoid any parked vehicles. Wow.

Also, on Christmas Day, we enjoyed a barbecue outside.  The weather was 29 degrees.  The air was calm and there was some snow still on the ground. The sky was blue and a brilliant sun shined on us and our daughter Shelli and her family as we ate outside on our deck.  

Our grandson Fin had shoveled out a space so we could set up a cornhole layout and after our dinner, we enjoyed playing this beanbag game.  Son-in-law Jerry brought over a fire pit so we had a campfire to keep us warm, which was a luxury. We also had s’mores (marshmallows, chocolate, graham crackers), which made it more special. 

Our little outdoor celebration provided a special end to the strangest year in my memory.  Despite the COVID-19, which prevented the Johnsons from coming inside our house, we had a Christmas that will be remembered forever.  It was just wonderful! 

We enjoyed Facetime with our other three kids, who live in Texas, Colorado, and Washington, so we got soaked in family love.  We can only hope that everyone else out there were able to make the best of a crazy situation with the crazy 2020 year. 

Daughter Alicia Haulman, who lives in Montrose, is very diligent about mailing holiday packages early.  Since my wife Nancy’s birthday is Dec. 15, Alicia always sends our “Christmas box” early, as it will have something special for Nancy’s birthday. This year she mailed it Dec. 10.  Today, as I write this on Dec. 26, we still have not received it! 

She was told that the Aurora, CO Post Office facility was so overwhelmed by packages that they truly could not tell anyone how soon their items would be delivered.  Reportedly FedEx and UPS were so overwhelmed with their own delivery issues, the USPS could not call on them to fill in. Thus, a huge logjam of packages is sitting in some huge postal warehouse in the Denver area. 

Happy New Year everybody. Thanks for reading this rather personal but not so exciting missive about our Christmas!

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Bill Sniffin

Wyoming Life Columnist

Columnist, author, and journalist Bill Sniffin writes about Wyoming life on Cowboy State Daily -- the state's most-read news publication.