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Bill Sniffin

Bill Sniffin: October Is Breast Cancer Month – Here Is A Story That Is Up Close And Personal

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher

I will never forget the way we celebrated the arrival of the Millennium on Dec. 31, 1999. 

At midnight, I was standing outside our home with the dog watching the fireworks over the golf course hill. I was sipping a glass of Spumante.  Our kids had gone to a party and I was babysitting my wife Nancy and our granddaughter Daylia, both of whom were sleeping.

October is breast cancer awareness month and it is in that spirit that I write this.

My wife Nancy had been diagnosed with breast cancer in the fall of 1999 and had been very sick as a result of chemotherapy.  She ended up in the hospital with the flu and I had just gotten her home in time for New Year’s.

Our grown children  were off to New Year’s parties and I stayed home to watch over my two sleeping girls.

When midnight struck, I quietly sneaked into Nancy’s bedroom and gently woke her up.  She was really groggy.  “Happy New Year, sweetie,” I said, and I gently let her take a sip of my wine.  Then she rolled over and went back to sleep.  I walked back to the center of our darkened house and rather ominously pondered what kind of year we were going to have in 2000?

Now, over 21 years later, I can report it was quite a year. Let me tell you about it.

It was in the fall of 1999 at this time when we found out my 52-year old wife had a cancerous tumor in her left breast and cancer in one lymph node. Nancy’s oncologist is a good man with an honest sense of irony.  “I’m going to use some terms with you today,” he said, at our first meeting, “that will sound strange to you. Believe me, by next year, they will become very common to you.”

And, so our journey started.

Thank God we had sold our newspapers in Fremont County and on Maui.  When we got the news, we also still owned interests in five businesses, but all had capable managers, which meant we could fight this thing with all our energy. And the Lander community was wonderful.  We had an unbelievable amount of support and prayers from all over.

Have you ever had someone cook dinner and bring it to your home?  At first, I really fought against this idea. After all, I was healthy and could either boil an egg or run to McDonald’s with little problem.  But then you realize that your friends are reaching out and they want to help you out. So, we relented. And the food was great, by the way.

During the following year we learned a lot about those things the oncologist talked about, such as Cytoxan, Adriamycin, Taxotere, neutropenia, Leukopenia, Zophran, Neupagen, CBC and thrombocytopenia, etc.  These are chemicals, medicines or medical conditions related to the effort to cure breast cancer.

After chemo, she also needed radiation. She rode a bus to Casper for 30 days. She called it “the cancer bus.  It was full of folks, like her, needing to get their dose of radiation.

Sadly, a great number of the people who rode that bus with her are no longer with us. But Nancy was blessed and we still have her with us today.

As for surgery, Nancy had a procedure called a lumpectomy. She came through it very well.

Her oncologist said that after her chemotherapy, if she does the radiation her chance of getting breast cancer again is three percent.  Without the radiation, it is 30 percent.

Those are 20-year old statistics. I am sure they are much today, especially with all the new cancer-fighting techniques and technologies that have been developed since then.

After that first surgery, she had a port surgically installed into an area above her right breast, just below the shoulder. All her blood testing and her chemotherapy were done directly through this port.

The chemotherapy was as bad as people said it would be.  There are now drugs, which prevent much of the nausea that occurred in the past, but it sure wreaked havoc with her white blood cell counts. Of course, she lost all her hair.

She got through her chemo sessions in April, 2000 but developed a bad infection in her leg, which was the result of the low blood count and accidentally bumping it on an open desk drawer.  This led to a quick trip to Casper to meet with an infectious disease specialist and then a deep surgical procedure to drain and repair her thigh.  She didn’t walk for a month.

Finally, we got the word from the oncologist that she could start radiation. 

On Oct. 13, 2000, we got up at 4 a.m. and went to Casper for a treatment and then headed to Cheyenne where Gov. Jim Geringer and his wife Sherri were hosting a reception for breast cancer survivors.

It was fun and it was fun watching Nancy mix with the other women there. I was the only man present and I quietly excused myself, saying, “I was a thorn amongst all these roses.”

As I departed, I looked back and I did think one rose stood out from the rest, though.

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Bill Sniffin: If We Live In A Little City, Then, This Must Be Wyoming

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher

Everything’s the same, back in my little town.
– Simon and Garfunkel song

Why does Wyoming lack a small city of significant population?

This thought first occurred to me while traveling through Boise (235,684).  Most recently, while visiting Anchorage, with its 282,958 people, this question again came into my mind.

Our largest cities, Casper and Cheyenne, are wonderful places.  Both were similar in size to Anchorage and Boise 60 years ago.  Not so today.

It might be easy to conclude that there were unique things that contributed to the growth of Anchorage and Boise. But what?  And why? They are isolated places in frontier-like states just like Wyoming.

One thing I noticed about both places is the obvious signs that big corporations are based there.  Years ago, big oil companies had a large presence in Casper and a big airline had its headquarters in Cheyenne. But they moved on.

Anchorage grew because of the energy explosion in that state. But has not Wyoming seen the exact same thing here over the past 60 years?

It is also significant to note the difference in the ages of the populations of Alaska and Wyoming.  While we are among the oldest in average age, Alaska is perhaps the youngest.

Today Casper and Cheyenne are 58,763 and 65,035 while Anchorage tops a quarter of a million and Boise tops 235,000.

Before going farther, I admit that I love our small population and am not yearning for big increases.  But it seems odd that somehow Wyoming has avoided developing that one major-sized city that would be an economic incubator for the state.

The statistics of some other neighboring small cities are even more interesting.

In 1960, Fort Collins was a little city, as was Rapid City. Today, they are 169,810 and 78,956. Four other Colorado cities that were just little towns 60 years ago include Longmont 98,885, Loveland 76,378, Grand Junction 65,560, and Brighton 40,083.

Over 60 years, the growth of Casper from 38,665 to 58,763 and Cheyenne’s growth from 43,380 to 65,035 are quite respectable. But neither showed the explosive growth of these other regional cities.  Billings, for example, doubled from 52,249 to 109,843.  Bozeman was just 13,361 in 1960 and today is 52,619.

Over in South Dakota, Sioux Falls is now 192,517.  In 1960 it was 98,946

Wyoming leaders commented on this situation:

Kim Love in Sheridan asked five questions: Who is Wyoming’s JR Simplot? What has Wyoming ever done that was the equivalent of the de-regulation of banking South Dakota did to recruit Citicorp’s credit card business? What was the relative size of Wyoming’s energy industry compared with Alaska’s North Slope development?  What would Wyoming look like if the economic impact of Wyoming’s energy was concentrated in one city such as Anchorage as opposed to five or six? What would Jackson look like if it had the same ability to grow as Bozeman has and also had a four year university?

Cowboy State Daily editor Jimmy Orr: “I would agree that investing in communities makes a big difference. Personally, I love that we don’t have any big communities and hope we keep it that way. Weather will keep Cheyenne and Casper’s growth in check. Keep an eye out on Lincoln, Sublette, and Crook counties.  The natural beauty of these counties will spur a lot of growth.”

Former Wyomingite Debbie Hammons writes: “Now that I live in a thriving Colorado community, I understand far better what residents like about living here. Longmont, for Pete’s sake, has grown to be bigger than Casper and Cheyenne during the past 10 years!   But they had a community effort to renew their downtown, and people from all over the region go there. It’s become a ‘cool’ place — attracting people who now not only visit there, but want to move there. Yes, you have to have jobs, educational opportunities, attractive outdoor attractions, but the town shouldn’t look like just a truck stop.”

Former Wyoming journalist Joe McGowan: “I believe the -relatively high elevation and the accompanying cold, snowy weather discourage people from moving to Wyoming. Some years ago, I knew a fellow whose doctor told him to find a lower elevation because of a medical problem he had. 

“By the way, all those years ago I was on the UW swim team and we had a real advantage when other conference teams came to Laramie. Often their distance swimmers had trouble finishing and a few had to be pulled from the pool!”

UW Historian Phil Roberts sees politics as the problem: “Hate to say it, but it’s Wyoming’s increasingly reactionary ideology, perceived as antithetical to new ideas and innovation. Unless you are already rich, there is little in the way of opportunity–at least, that’s the outside perception. We do little to counter that narrative, especially in this era of Trumpism. Something has to change.”

Lander entrepreneur Cade Maestas says: “Wyoming is a one-trick pony. Our extraction-based economy is heavily impacted by boom and bust cycles. We need more mid-size companies to flourish here, this will build a larger talent pool to recruit even larger companies.

“Or we need a homegrown favorite to flourish to the point of becoming a Coors, a Dell, an Oracle, or any of the other large businesses in smaller communities that helped lift their towns to the next level. Four-year colleges are going the way of the dodo. We need more tech schools, more tech infrastructure, and we need a stable economy to let businesses grow.”

Several folks blamed weather for lack of growth in our two largest cities. The late Steve Mossbrook, who was CEO of in Riverton said: “In both Wyoming cities the wind blows all the time, frequently so hard as to make it uncomfortable to be out of doors.  Additionally, Wyoming people are not exactly fond of change.”

Randy Bruns, who headed up LEADS economic efforts in Cheyenne, told me his thoughts about eight years ago on this subject: “Anchorage, Fort Collins, and Boise all are university towns and they all invested heavily in quality of life amenities two decades or more before Casper and Cheyenne started to wake up. Communities that invest in themselves become attractive to others. In Wyoming we thought things were good enough, thank you very much.”

My personal theory is that both Cheyenne and Casper do have weather considerations that come into play. 

Also, Wyoming is both the windiest state in America and has the highest average elevation of any state.  It is high and cold here.

But the biggest reason for the lack of a major growth was the 20-year bust that Wyoming endured from 1982 to 2002.  Wyoming truly languished during this bleak period with a “make do” attitude.

We lost our momentum and it’s been difficult all these years later to get it back.  

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Bill Sniffin: Here was the time when I missed The Best Part of America the most

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher

The rain was falling in sheets. The wind was howling. The temperature was 40 degrees and I could see my breath. My raincoat was soaked through and my umbrella was inside out. It was late at night and I was standing on a street corner in Cardiff, Wales, waiting for a bus. 

And I was thinking about The Best Part of America.

Those Wyoming mountains in my mind were looking mighty good about then. Wyoming’s low humidity and bright sunshine were only distant a memory — but in between shivers, it kept me going.

That was 35 years ago this month.

My visit to the Centre for Journalism Studies at the University of Wales was about over. And although it had been a great experience, it was time to leave. The Cardiff faculty had invited me to join their mid-career Master’s program in the fall of 1986. The program included journalists from all over the world. 

There were newspaper editors, television newscasters, magazine editors and government media people. They came from as far away as China, Malaysia, Korea, Nigeria, Sudan, Ethiopia, Qatar, New Zealand, the United States and other countries, too.

While there, my duties also included serving as a guest lecturer to grad school students from the United Kingdom. 

But that night in the rain, all I could think about was my Wyoming.

These people wanted to know about America. They liked America and they liked Americans.

My philosophy has always been to be polite when visiting another person’s country.  I rarely bragged about my home and always complimented them on everything.

Once you get beyond the politeness, inevitably the conversation would turn to my part of the country.  They wanted to know about this mysterious place called Wyoming? Cowboys, Indians and mountains fascinated them. I told them about the Oregon Trail and the Pony Express and Yellowstone National Park and Frontier Days.  

And how Wyoming was just one of 50 states and how our state had 23 counties. And how Fremont County was larger than Wales. And despite all that land, just 39,000 people lived there. And how there were 40 places in my county over 13,000 feet in elevation.  

I also told them about incredible mountains like the Grand Tetons and Devils Tower. And our vast distances and how Wyoming was the least populated state in America — about the same population of Cardiff.

And they were surprised to hear about how the sun shines 300 days per year and the humidity is so low, the sky is always blue.  And how you can’t count all the stars in the sky at night.  And how easy it was to see more than 100 miles on a clear day.

And then there was all our wildlife plus our wonderful fishing.  And I raved about the Red Desert with its wild horses and shifting sand dunes. And how just a century ago, cavalry and buffalo were roaming these valleys. 

Now remember, I believe in being polite when in a foreign country.  It took a lot to get me to talk about my home.  But they wanted to know more.  They just couldn’t get enough information about this land called The Best Part Of America.

I couldn’t help smiling when talking about our clean air and clean water or even how wide our streets are. And the great condition of our roads and highways along with all the walking and hiking trails. And our tax situation was almost non-existent compared to theirs.

Hearing about public lands that were available to everybody surprised them.  I told them about my spread, the three million-acre Shoshone National Forest that was just 10 minutes from my home.  And how our family shared that spread with millions of other Americans.

My tales of the Shoshone and Arapaho Indians drew a rapt audience.

And I talked about my family back there in 1986. And how most Americans are friendly and Wyoming people are the friendliest of all. And how Americans always believe in the “American Dream” — that if they work hard and don’t give up, they will almost always come out on top. Americans believe the best in people and in situations and how optimism is a national disease in our country.

And as I was standing there in the rain that chilly night many years ago, I thought about all those things.  It was then that I realized that I really did live in The Best Part of America. 

It was good to know that. 

And it was time to go home.

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Bill Sniffin: Travel During The Time Of COVID And Fall Foliage

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher

Travel times can be nervous times in the time of COVID.

We were anxious about going to a wedding and then going farther, but what about the booster shot?

A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that the Pfizer vaccine’s long-term protection against COVID was not quite as potent, over the long run, as the Moderna shot.

As recipients of the Pfizer vaccine back in January, both my wife Nancy and I were eligible for the booster shot.

We were headed to our grandson’s wedding in Grand Junction and this seemed a good time to get the booster. We loaded up our old motorhome (nicknamed Follow My Nose) and headed south. Our ultimate destination on this trip was Las Vegas, where we store the coach during the winter months.

But before we left, we were concerned about COVID.

Three elderly Lander friends, all of whom were vaccinated, recently had gotten sick from COVID.  Although none died or were even hospitalized, this got our attention. They reported severe headaches and the need to sleep for about five days.  One friend says he is still very tired after two weeks.

A story in the New York Times reported on this:

“Roughly 221 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been dispensed thus far in the United States, compared with about 150 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine. In a half-dozen studies published over the past few weeks, Moderna’s vaccine appeared to be more protective than the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the months after immunization.

The latest such study, published on Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine, evaluated the real-world effectiveness of the vaccines at preventing symptomatic illness in about 5,000 health care workers in 25 states. The study found that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine had an effectiveness of 88.8 percent, compared with Moderna’s 96.3 percent.”

Ryan Hedges, the CEO of the Lander Medical Clinic, set up procedures for those wishing to obtain the booster shot and we were able to get ours before we left on the first leg of our trip to Grand Junction. We experienced no side effects at all.

Weather guru Don Day said that if we left on Sept. 23, the conditions should be perfect for driving a 13-foot high rig across a stretch famous for brutal westerly winds. He was right. Outside of incredible construction between Baggs and Craig, Colorado, the trip was uneventful.

Aspen trees in Carbon County were just starting to turn. That excellent paved highway from Saratoga to Baggs features perhaps the best Gold Aspen viewing in the state. I have never seen so many Aspen trees as on Battle Mountain. 

The famous Aspen Alley is located in that area. Cowboy State Daily recently published the best photo ever taken of Aspen Alley by noted Cheyenne photographer Randy Wagner. It is a spectacular photo of a brilliant site.

The entire state is showing great color.  The Wyoming Black Hills up by Newcastle and Sundance are amazing.

Mountain ranges from one end of Wyoming to the other are showing off this time of year. If you can, get out and drive the Big Horn, Wind River, Wyoming, Teton, Owl Creek, Sierra Madre, and many other mountain ranges.  The canyons are wonderful, too.

After Baggs we drove down the Yampa River Valley in Colorado through Meeker and Rifle.  Color was just coming out there, too.

As I write this, we are still feeling fine and we got through the wedding ceremony, reception, and various other gatherings in excellent shape.

From Grand Junction, we again checked with Don Day and he said weather should cooperate. He was right until we reached that long stretch from Mesquite to Vegas. It was windy but we managed.

We are spending a few days in Sin City before putting our rig in storage for a few months. We hope to go back in February for some time. More than $1 billion was wagered in Vegas in August, and while that total is below pre-pandemic levels, it still shows that business is coming back.

When it comes to COVID, Nevada is California Junior with everybody ordered to wear masks just about everywhere.  It was common to see folks wearing masks outside and even while driving. It was frankly a little shocking after enjoying Wyoming’s pretty much mask-free environment.

We are looking forward to our trip home, especially through some of our favorite towns like Evanston, Kemmerer, and Fort Bridger. I am pondering taking a route which would feature a stop at Flaming Gorge. The road from Fort Bridger to the Flaming Gorge dam is a scenic gem that few Wyoming people have traveled. If they do, they are in for a gorgeous trip.

Fall is my favorite time of year in Wyoming. In recent years it stretched to the end of October before winter snows.  We can only hope.

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Bill Sniffin: Yellowstone’s Favorite Haunts Just As Special Today As Over Past 150 Years

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher

(part 2 of 2)

“Like No Place on Earth” was the official slogan for Wyoming’s tourism division a few years ago.  I liked the slogan but thought it referred more to Yellowstone National Park than anywhere else in the state.

That was reaffirmed to us recently when we made our annual trek to the world’s first national park.

Our initial part of our trip out of Lander was interesting. For example, Wind River Canyon between Shoshoni and Thermopolis was slow going because of workers cleaning up a rock fall.

In Cody, we broke one of our windshield wipers while fueling up. We made it to NAPA as they were closing and Tall Joe was wonderful in fixing us up. It was funny as I chased him down the street trying to give him some money. 

One of the best deals in Wyoming is the prime rib dinner buffet at the Irma Hotel and the Dan Miller Revue show afterward.  Just $40. Amazing. Miller has done more than 2,000 shows playing with Wendy Corr and his daughter Hannah.  The show was top notch and very professional.  If you get to Cody, please go. You will not regret it.

We spent a lot of quality time at the most heavily-visited part of the park – the lower loop.  We skipped Old Faithful because of time constraints but were looking forward to some hot water elsewhere.

Norris Geyser Basin is the greatest hot spot in earth. It covers a huge area and can be incredibly dangerous.  Once a season you will hear about someone getting burned in Yellowstone and most often, it happens here.

During our 11-hour trip we were anxious to get to Norris. We have made many trips to Yellowstone in September and October over the past 51 years and for most of that time, the tourists were “local” – from Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. On this trip, I finally spotted cars with Montana and an Idaho license plates parked together. Finally, some locals.  Then we noticed they were penned in between cars from Hawaii, California, and Florida. Oh well.

Norris did not disappoint.  It was a windy day, which meant big blasts of sulfur every so often. If you like geysers like I do, the smell of rotten eggs warms your heart.

Traffic was light from Norris to Canyon as we headed for Artist’s Point. It was crowded but we found a parking space.  

At the Point, two guys talking in a foreign language were beside us, so I asked them where they were from.  They said Venezuela originally, but they had lived in Miami for many years now. They bemoaned what had happened to their country but were loving their first visit to YNP.

The road south through Hayden Valley was blocked by a big herd of buffalo. The big bulls were right in front of us and snorting at us. I took a photo through my windshield showing the big bull and the park gal in the distance with her bullhorn. I want to point that out because if you saw the photo, you might think I was being one of those idiots who walk right up to bison. Nope. Not now. Not ever.

Our favorite place is the Lake Hotel and specifically, the big sun room. On this day, it was packed with folks all enjoying drinks and watching whitecaps on the inland sea called Yellowstone Lake. Everybody was required to wear a mask to get in but they all had them off as they sat, drank their drinks, and enjoyed both the view and the company.  The line to the bar was more than 12 people.  We chose to move on.

The morning we left Lander, banker Bill Von Holtum had just come from Yellowstone and said his family had seen three grizzly bears, all in the Fishing Bridge area on the East Entrance road.

We looked but did not see any on this day.  As we left the park headed back to Cody, we entered a surreal world called Wapiti Valley.  This is such a strange place with huge mountains, deep valleys, and a beautiful river.  The HooDoos were amazing, as was a giant rock formation, which I call the Bear’s Ears looming over the whole area.

Sleeping Giant Ski Area has expanded and looked impressive.  The Buffalo Bill Reservoir was drawn down somewhat as we approached the famous Buffalo Bill Dam. When it was built in 1912, it was the tallest in the world.

The Smith Mansion is a six-story relic that looms over part of the valley as you head toward Cody.

When we passed the Cody Rodeo Grounds, we had been gone for 11 hours and had travelled over 300 miles. 

Wow, what a day!  Certainly, one of the best days ever.

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Bill Sniffin: Don’t Let Worry About Crowds Keep You From Yellowstone – It’s Wonderful!

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher

In Yellowstone, the voices of authority are young gals with bullhorns telling people to move along. We ran into them on three occasions during our 11-hour drive through the park Friday, Sept. 17.

The first two times, these rangers had gotten the traffic moving by the time we got to the offending place.  The third time, we stopped and rolled down our window, and asked: “What’s going on?”

“There’s nothing here. Get out of here!” said the seemingly pleasant looking but serious traffic mover.  OK, OK.  And away we went.

We have been going to Yellowstone for 51 years and it is my favorite place on earth.  We love going in the fall as a way to avoid the summer tourist rush.

Alas, this year mid-September felt like July 4.  If you are going you better be patient.  And congratulations to the park service for hiring those traffic-movers with the bullhorns as they were effective in moving traffic along.

We spent two nights at the Blair-owned Holiday Inn in Cody, thanks to some scheduling help from Tim O’Leary, that company’s CFO. He is an outstanding photographer. Cowboy State Daily ran a photo of his featuring two bear cubs last Friday morning. The cubs’ mom had been hit and killed by a car west of Cody.

Using Cody as a base, we left early and took the spectacular Chief Joseph Highway to connect with the Beartooth Highway and enter the Yellowstone’s northeast gate.  Traffic was moderate and the smoky haze was gone. It was a nice day that  topped out at 66 degrees in the park.

It was chilly in the morning. An old boy in Cooke City, Montana, said they had freezing temperatures early that morning.  It was still too early to see much color in the trees. But it will be happening soon. The next two weeks will be golden in the park.

At Tower Junction, the road south was closed for the season as it was getting a major repair.  We headed on over to Mammoth hoping to see some elk roaming the streets. 

Parking spaces were hard to find. It was a busy place. We had to wait in line and wear masks to get into the Horace Albright Information Center.  The poor park service gal, who was in charge of enforcing the mask rule and maintaining proper social distancing, was not having a great day. One of the most unpleasant jobs in the park, I would assume. She was standing outside wearing her mask while everyone around her was not.

Xanterra is the outfit in charge of running just about everything in the park as its concessionaire.  It is the best in the business.  But this year has been tough.  Like just about everyone in the hospitality business, the company has had a struggle hiring staff.  

Lately, Xanterra has also had trouble getting food into the park.  One of their staff people strongly suggested that we pack in our own food, which we did. Thus, I have no idea about how service was, although there appeared to be lines everywhere.

I assume a lot of the company’s staff are college students who had to quit and go back to school.  It put them in to an impossible position.

Yellowstone is projected to see 4.8 million visits this year, smashing the all-time record of 4.2 million set last year.  The place is busy, even in mid-September.

Is it worth going?  Are you kidding!   I love the place. It is my favorite place. Just go prepared to be surprised at the large number of fellow tourists there with you this time of year.

Yellowstone is the world’s first national park. It is one of our country’s best ideas.  Next year, it celebrates its 150th anniversary. There will be a big party in Cody.  We attended the 100th anniversary party in 1972, also in Cody. Did I say I have had a long relationship with this wonderful place?  Yes I have. But I digress.

From Mammoth we headed south through the Golden Gate, which is an amazing road cut through a huge canyon where the road extends out over the gorge.

Much of this road is newly-paved and was wonderful.  At one point, traffic stopped for 20 minutes. No reason why.  Cars, trucks, campers, and motorcycles were stopped for five miles.  Finally, we started going but there was no indication of why we stopped. No bears. No accidents.

Oh well.  We still had most of the park to cover on this trip.

(End of Part 1. Part 2 will be about geysers, lakes, canyons and more and will appear next week.)

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Bill Sniffin: Liz Vs Harriet Could Be A Big-Time Heavyweight Boxing Match

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher

Donald Trump made a big Cowboy State splash this past week when he anointed Harriet Hageman as his choice to run for Wyoming’s lone Congressional seat against three-termer Liz Cheney.

Cheney and the former president have been feuding all year and this brings their dispute to a head-to-head fight.  Hageman’s name is on the ballot but it might as well be Trump versus Cheney.

Trump and Cheney are competing to see who can be feistier. Trump calls Liz names. Liz never tires of criticizing the former president. When the news came about his endorsement of Harriet, she replied: “Bring it.”

Over the years, I have gotten to know both Liz and Harriet. This is shaping up to be a heavyweight title bout between two very smart and well-funded Wyoming woman candidates.

Of course, this is all based on whether Liz even decides to stay in the race. I have predicted she will drop out and move on to the national stage, where she has already carved out a huge presence. 

Liz used to be a force in the U. S. Congress because of her political position. Much of her influence in that arena is gone now.

While losing influence in Congress, her influence has grown across the county. She has become a major force in national politics because of her eloquent and dogged criticism of Trump and his policies. She has become a darling of the liberal national media.

As for the primary race itself, other Congressional candidates like attorney Darin Smith of Cheyenne have  bowed out but State Sen. Anthony Bouchard (R-Cheyenne) and State Rep. Chuck Gray (R-Casper) are hanging in there as I write this Sept. 10. 

Even without Trump’s endorsement, Hageman could have been predicted to defeat Bouchard and Gray.  She would have a more difficult time with Smith, but for now, Smith has done what he originally said he would do — drop out in favor of Trump’s choice against Liz Cheney.  But if Cheney drops out, Smith retains the right to retract that decision and get back in the race. 

From past experience with Cheney and Hageman, I would compare their campaigns as follows: Liz likes retail campaigning with lots of big budget ad campaigns and small local intimate gatherings of supporters.  

Harriet likes wholesale campaigning, which I would describe as mixing it up with the voters and even with the other candidates.  Harriet is a bulldog and if you are going to fight with her, you better come to the fight prepared for a battle. Although massively outspent by her opponents Mark Gordon, Foster Friess, and Sam Galeotos in the 2018 governor’s race, she did well finishing third.

Liz Cheney chatted with reporters Friday, including Editor Jimmy Orr of the Cowboy State Daily. Here are some of those excerpts: 

It was on the topic of the Constitution where Cheney drew a big difference between herself and Hageman, a Wyoming attorney. She said both she and Hageman had taken oaths. Her oath when she became a member of Congress. Hageman’s when she became a member of the Wyoming Bar.

Only she herself has adhered to their respective oaths, Cheney said.

“She [Hageman] is now abandoning that principle, sacrificing her oath, abandoning her duty to the people of Wyoming — in order to pledge loyalty to Donald Trump,” Cheney said.

“She seems to be stepping into the shoes of people like Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, two attorneys who recently have been sanctioned by the courts for lying about the election,” she said.

Cheney said it was “tragic to see that kind of opportunism” and was “inconsistent with Wyoming values.”

In that vein, she also expressed concern with the chairman of the Wyoming Republican Party, Frank Eathorne, for also putting loyalty to the former president above the Constitution mentioning that he expressed support for secession following the Capitol riots of January 6.

“I think that’s really dangerous, anti-conservative, and frankly, a move away from the Constitution,” Cheney said.

“We don’t take an oath to any individual person,” she said.  “We swear an oath under God to the Constitution.”

As for Trump’s endorsement of Hageman, Cheney called the whole process of interviewing with the former president in hopes of receiving an endorsement “sad.”

“The notion that candidates have felt that they needed to go to New Jersey to pledge their allegiance to Donald Trump, rather than to the people of Wyoming and the Constitution is really sad to see,” she said.

Hageman, meanwhile, appeared on Fox News and explained that she used to support Cheney, but that “Cheney had changed.”  

“If I knew what she was going to turn into, I would never had answered that first phone call.”

Coincidentally, Hageman had supported Cheney during her first two campaigns for U. S. Congress. 

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Bill Sniffin: UW Game Day ‘Back To Normal’ – It Is Just So Much Fun For The Cowboy State

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By Bill Sniffin, Cowboy State Daily

And by the way, the Pokes won last Saturday! But there was so much more going on besides a football game.

A real old-fashioned football weekend at Laramie had not occurred for over two years. But this weekend was just so much fun – the tail-gating, the banquets, the pomp, the huge crowds, and it even culminated with a nail-biter of a football game victory. 

I was there for most of it.  This column and these photos tell some of the stories that were occurring all over Laramie and Cheyenne during this festive weekend.

Fall weather in the mid-70s and just a slight breeze contributed to about as good an environment as in all of UW history.

We talked with tailgaters from Cheyenne, Yoder, Lander, Wheatland, and Laramie.  As you walked around the huge War Memorial Stadium, the smells of burgers, pizza, barbecue, burrito’s, and just about every other tasty item were in the air. My favorite was a breakfast burrito from the folks in Wheatland.

The bright gold color favored by Coach Craig Bohl was all over the place as folks dressed up in their golden best.  And yet, at the game, the fans sat in an organized manner so the crowd was striped, with sections alternately gold and brown.

Our weekend started Friday night with a gala event at the Governor’s Residence in Cheyenne where First Lady Jennie Gordon saluted individuals and organizations that had taken her Wyoming Hunger Initiative and made it a huge success.

Blue Cross/Blue Shield has become a major sponsor on the project.  When BC/BS also became the primary sponsor the UW’s game Saturday, it only made sense to incorporate the “Tackle Hunger” campaign into their game sponsorship, too.

A big crew of volunteers wearing “Tackle Hunger” tee shirts worked hard raising awareness of hunger issues in Wyoming, especially among young people.

The Cheyenne event Friday night was outside under a nice tent and included a spectacular meal.  And then the sky opened up and it rained like crazy for about 20 minutes.  The tent held up but those of us sitting on the edge got pretty soaked.  Gov. Mark Gordon was in a good mood and announced:  “Here in Wyoming, we never, never complain about the rain!”

We sat with Chuck and Katie Brown of Wheatland, Susan and Doug Samuelson of Cheyenne, and Kim and Mary Kay Love of Sheridan.

Author CJ Box was there and said the new TV series called Joe Pickett about his successful books is progressing nicely.  More on that later.  Very exciting news.

Some other folks there included Katie Legerski, Jonathan Downing, Diane and Jeff Gore and a slew of people from all around the state. I apologize for forgetting all their names. It was a who’s -who of generous Wyoming folks.

Later that evening, we attended the induction ceremony at UW of some fantastic former Cowboy athletes. They were also recognized during halftime of the game.  My personal favorite was “The Greybull Rifle,” Tom Wilkinson, who went on to fame in the Canadian Professional Football League.

Special note: the UW band was outstanding. They even performed a song from the rock group Queen.  Not an easy play for a marching band, I would assume.

There was a huge amount of tailgating events being held inside the football team’s practice facility. 

As for Covid, we saw probably 10 people masked up during the whole time outside.  Yet there was a nurse named Terri Garner roaming around with a mask on and holding a sign asking people to get vaccinated. She predicted this game would be a super spreader event for the state.

That truly was the only discouraging word I heard during the entire weekend.

It was a huge crowd, probably over 27,000.  Montana State brought a large group of fans, but the overwhelming fan base was pro-Cowboy “gold or brown.”  And yes, with less than one minute remaining, the Cowboys snatched Victory from the Jaws of Defeat, with a 19-16 victory.

We spent the second half in the Wildcatter Suites.  What a nice facility. Ran into Dave Crum of Casper, Judy and Don Legerski of Lander, and my old pal Gus Fleischli of Cheyenne.  Gus just turned 95 and is a World War II vet.

Keener Fry was all over the place.  He was truly everywhere from their tailgater stand, to the Hall of Fame banquet, to leading the folks at the Wildcatter Suites in cheering on the Pokes in the final minutes. He is in charge of UW Alumni Association.  

It is easy to love being in SE Wyoming on a game day in September. Life just does not get any better than this. It was a wonderful time full of fantastic Cowboy fans.

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Bill Sniffin: Joe Biden’s Debacle, Thirsty Bears, And Bursting My Buttons

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher

President Joe Biden’s enduring fiasco in Afghanistan.  Bears raising heck in Wyoming.  There is so much to write about and so little time.

Deadlines approach and all I need is 750 words.  As Mark Twain said, “I would write it shorter if I had more time.”  One of my favorite writers is Stephen King, who called the editing process of shortening your own stories “killing off your little children.”

So here I am. Nobody wants to read about the stress I feel facing the deadline pressure of a weekly column.

One veteran columnist wrote that “writing a regular column is easy. You just sit down in front of the keyboard and wait for the blood to start running down the side of your head.”

Today, I am feeling sorry for myself.  I have been writing columns for over 50 years.  I think Jim Hicks might have the record with his “Sagebrush Sven” column in the Buffalo Bulletin – probably 60-plus years.

There may be a few others in Wyoming who have written a column for over 50 years but I am hesitant to name them.  I actually think I have been writing my column longer than Joan (pronounced Jo-Ann) Barron and the recently retired Sally Ann Shurmur, both of the Casper Star-Tribune. 

People who read my column ask me “How on earth do you manage to get one of these written every week?” Or for that matter, 51 years in Wyoming, six years in western Iowa, and two years in eastern Iowa? I think that might add up to 59 years, but, alas, who is counting except me?  

Sorry folks, now that I’m done with my whining, I promise this thumbsucker column might get a little more interesting.

So, my first column item here is about a bear.  Columnist Dave Simpson recently wrote about a beer-drinking bear. 

This story is better. Promise.

This story begins with a unique part of the four-year curriculum at Wyoming Catholic College in Lander — a three-week wilderness course taken by all freshmen just before starting college.

The wilderness trip is a spiritual experience where these young people from all over the country (students come from 38 different states) bond with others and attend religious services with the two priests who tag along.

The Catholic faith involves communion with wine and bread. The bread is served as small hosts. This is where this story gets interesting.

Seems while the students were off climbing a mountain, a bear broke into the priests’ tent, drank all the wine and gobbled up all the hosts.

Later, when a ranger was asked if he thought the guilty party was a brown bear, a black bear, or a grizzly bear, he allegedly replied:

“Hard to tell. But I am pretty sure it was a Catholic bear.”

Second, as publisher of the Cowboy State Daily, I get to take credit for the great work done by editors Jimmy Orr and Jim Angell plus great writing by Ellen Fike, Wendy Corr, and Jen Kocher. And I will continue to burst my buttons over the product this staff is putting out each day.

More than 40 items are sent out to our 17,400 subscribers each day for free. Another 400,000 folks check our web site each month, and we have about 25,000 friends on Facebook.  These are pretty amazing numbers for an outfit that is not yet three years old. Don’t just watch us grow, join us!  Go to to sign up.

Third, I need to clarify that although in a recent column I said I agreed with President Joe Biden on getting out of Afghanistan, I must ask who in their right mind would agree with how he is doing it?  This disaster will be his legacy and will haunt him forever.

I believe in the good work being done by an outfit called  This online money auditing site is very accurate in exposing wasteful government spending.

They recently published the following about what we left behind in Afghanistan:

•        75,000 war vehicles including light and medium tactical vehicles, Humvees, mine resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles, and armored personnel carriers. The nearly 1,000 mine resistant vehicles cost up to $767,000 each.

•        208 airplanes and helicopters, including 20 A-29 Super Tucano attack aircraft. The A-29s cost $21.3 million each. Black Hawk helicopters were also captured – each costing up to $21 million.

•        600,000 rifles, machine guns, shotguns, and howitzers were transferred to Afghan security forces. And 25,000 grenade launchers and 2,500 howitzers – the modern-day cannon. 

Gads, what a waste. Amazing.

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Bill Sniffin: Dave Bell’s New Coffee Table Book Is Spectacular!

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher

While most of us spent the year 2020 feeling guilty about all the special projects we thought we could get done – but just did not – Dave Bell topped us all.  His new coffee table book COVID THROUGH THE LENS is spectacular.

As the author of a trilogy of coffee table books that have sold 35,000 copies, I speak with some authority about the genre.  And Dave Bell has hit a home run with this book.

In describing the genesis of the book, Bell says: “This book is a photographic journal of my wanderings during the year 2020.  Even though most of the United States has been locked down, we have enjoyed exploring remote areas.”

He said he snapped more than 100,000 photos and then had the almost impossible task of editing it down to 200 of his favorite images.

If you love Wyoming, mountains, wildlife, scenery, and images of the Cowboy State’s most beautiful places, you will love this book.

It sells for $75 each and you can email him at or call him at (307) 360 7604. His mailing address is  P. O.  Box 1738, Pinedale, WY 82941.

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