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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 cowboystatedaily.com 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 Openthebooks.com.  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 davidj_bell@msn.com or call him at (307) 360 7604. His mailing address is  P. O.  Box 1738, Pinedale, WY 82941.

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Bill Sniffin: Liz Cheney Is Putting Wyoming In National Media Spotlight

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher

It’s hard to imagine that any Wyoming politician has ever been in the national media spotlight as much as our current U. S. Rep. Liz Cheney – except for when her father was vice president, of course.

Folks from national media have been driving all over Wyoming this past week preparing big stories on Liz and her challengers in the August 2022 Republican primary for the Cowboy State’s lone seat in the U.S. House.

Both 60 Minutes from the CBS network and Gannett’s USA Today were doing major pieces on the outspoken Liz.

The main reason for all the attention is Liz Cheney’s continued bashing of former President Donald Trump. What is so incongruous about this is the fact the state Liz represents  — Wyoming – had a higher level of voter support for Trump than any other state in the nation is the state in 2016 and 2020. In 2020, nearly 70% of Wyoming’s voters supported Trump’s re-election.

As a result, the Cheney-Trump feud has the national media drooling. 

And folks, it REALLY is a helluva story.  How crazy can this get?

A big majority of Wyoming people supported Trump in his two presidential campaigns.  And yet, our lone member of Congress is leading the charge among a tiny group of her Republican congressional colleagues in standing up to the former president and what has come to be known as “Trumpism.”

 Ledge King and Hannah Gaber of USA Today caught up with me last Wednesday as they tailed candidate Darin Smith of Cheyenne in his campaign to unseat Cheney. 

I watched these reporters as they interviewed Smith and a coffee group in Lander known as the Fox News All-Stars.

I also watched Smith woo a group put together in Riverton that included former mayor Ron Warpness.

Meanwhile, veteran reporter Leslie Stahl and her camera crew from 60 Minutes were with Cheney as she moved across Wyoming.  They filmed a Cheney-friendly small town hall event in Casper that was coordinated by Tim and Susan Stubson and others.

In talking with the USA Today folks, I found that they had already chatted with candidates state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, (R-Cheyenne) and state Rep. Chuck Gray (R-Casper), who are also running for Cheney’s seat. The reporters also attended the State Fair in Douglas, which they found fascinating.

They had flown into Denver and rented a car and started the long slog north through Wyoming, ending up in Lander and Riverton.  Then they reversed directions and ended up back in Denver, missing their flights because of staffing issues at their airline.  Ledge King loves Wyoming and has fond memories of visiting the CM Dude Ranch in Dubois as a teen.

King said the national interest in this race is incredibly high.  He expects their printed stories and video pieces to be aired some time in the coming weeks.

King and Gaber also interviewed me about my feelings concerning the Cheney situation.  They had followed my earlier comments in my role as publisher of Cowboy State Daily, which King subscribes to.

I repeated my thoughts from an earlier column, that it does not make sense for Cheney to ever run again for her Wyoming seat.  There are three reasons why this is a bad idea for her:

First, because of her Trump-bashing, she has become a national media darling and is positioned to run for president as a nominee from the moderate wing of the Republican party.

Second, even if she runs again for the House and wins, it will be an ugly, expensive and grueling campaign.  It will be her against Trump, which she might relish, but again, why take on the responsibility of representing Wyoming for two more years when she has much bigger national fish to fry?

And third, finally, why risk losing a Wyoming election? I find the possibility of a loss hard to grasp, however, since if she runs, some 14,000 Democrats and Independents will cross over on primary election day to pretty much guarantee her reelection.

My assumption is these comments will end up on the cutting room floor, but it was flattering to be interviewed by a national outfit.  

Meanwhile, Cheney was not letting any grass grow under her feet. 

She appeared on Casper’s KTWO-TV for an interview Saturday, in which she bashed Trump for how he originally got the USA into this Afghanistan exit fiasco.  She also criticized current President Joe Biden for what she called his many mistakes.

Sunday morning, Cheney appeared on the longest running TV show in the country, Meet the Press, on NBC.  She was warmly greeted by host Chuck Todd, who is notorious as one of former President Trump’s biggest detractors. 

Cheney took the opportunity to bash Trump for ever making a deal with the Taliban and putting our country into an impossible situation.  Then she again criticized Biden for making it even worse. 

“Biden has reversed all these other decisions by Trump, why didn’t he reverse this one, too?”, she asked.

Stay tuned. Wyoming, courtesy of Liz Cheney, will be all over the national news during upcoming weeks.

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Bill Sniffin: The End Of ‘Afghanistanism’ In Our Lifetime – Is This A Miracle Or What?

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher

Yes, it is time to get out of our 20-year never-ending war in Afghanistan. 

But first, let me tell a bit about editorial writing, including how the name of this far-off country relates to it. 

Three decades ago, when I was a hell-on-wheels editorial writer for a local newspaper, it always seemed important to me to write forceful editorials about local issues. I was rewarded for those efforts by measured changes in my communities, the wrath of various portions of the population, and awards from journalism organizations.

But I stayed away, at all costs, from three other types of editorials. My three gripes were: 

Way back then, I abhorred what was called “blind boosterism,” which is over-the-top local promotion of just about anything. This column is not about that. 

Another type that I disliked were editorials that I called “thumbsuckers,” where the writer whined about some personal grudge.

The third kind is what used to be called “Afghanistanism.” This was a slur you cast toward some editorial writer who, instead of dealing with local topics, would write stirring missives about happenings around the world. Your local readers, interested only in local affairs, cared very little about this far-away stuff and criticized these editorial writers for straying way far from where they should be focusing their attention.

Afghanistanism? 

I am writing about this today in the context that perhaps, finally, our longest war is coming to an end.  President Joe Biden swears he is going to get our troops out of that God-forsaken country by Sept. 11, ironically the 20th anniversary of the greatest attack ever on our country’s shores – the 9/11 attacks on New York City and Washington D.C.

In recent years, just about every columnist or editorial writer has written about this crazy never-ending war and, no, it was not writing about some far-away obscure place any more. Afghanistan was a place where thousands of our finest young men and women were making huge sacrifices. And for what? 

Within a year of the 9/11 attacks, our forces had blasted that country to bits and pretty much demolished the folks who planned the terrorism. They retreated so far into the hills and their caves that the threat was contained. 

But then the U.S. found out what so many countries had found out before it – Afghanistan is an out of control mess.  The former USSR found that out and some folks think the folly of Russia’s war in Afghanistan bankrupted their country and led to an end to that country’s status as a superpower. 

Afghanistan has been a money pit over and over.  The USA had spent $2 trillion.  And that was back when a trillion bucks was really a trillion bucks!

We lost 2,200 lives and saw 20,000 more of our people injured.  For what? When we leave there, it will revert back to what it was before.  An opium poppy-growing patchwork of tribes and fiefdoms that fight against each other as much as they fight against the outside world. They will practice hideous offenses against women and girls and it will just be awful. These folks are barbarians.

I will tell you what the definition of insanity is in one word: Afghanistan.   Others define insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Like I said, Afghanistan.

My generation had its own version of this nightmare called Vietnam. Only that war killed 58,148 young American men and women. With a death toll like that, we managed to stop the insanity after just eight years. 

Those folks who died in Vietnam were folks my age. My classmate Harlan Bilden never got to see his 20th birthday. Another classmate Larry Halverson was shot up and died later at the age of 57. 

I am proud to be friends of Vietnam veterans Pat Schmidt, Bob Spengler, Andy Gramlich and Dan Whetstone.  Some of these guys have COPD from Agent Orange, two were shot, and they all probably have some PTSD from their experiences. These four men appear normal but they carry their wounds.  

Of the 2.7 million American soldiers who served during Vietnam, some 304,000 suffered serious injuries or crippling wounds. Some 75,000 were considered seriously disabled. 

The National Museum of Military Vehicles in Dubois has an incredible and informative wing about the Vietnam War. Well worth the visit. 

Getting back to the subject at hand: Should we get out of Afghanistan?  Duh.

Biden says we need to concentrate our efforts on Asia and leave the Middle East behind. For once, I agree with him. 

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Bill Sniffin: Field Of Dreams Hosts Big Game Thursday – It’s An Hour’s Drive From My Hometown

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher

Almost 30 years ago, my teenage son Michael pitched to me from the mound at the Field of Dreams near Dyersville, Iowa.  It was a thrill.

I left there with a nice shirt, some baseballs, and a special cup that when you put hot coffee into it, the baseball players would magically appear from out of a cornfield.

Our family lived in a tiny town called Wadena about an hour’s drive north of Dyersville.  We used to stop there on our way to the historic city of Dubuque along the Mississippi River.  Those are great memories.

Before becoming famous as home of the baseball field used in the movie, Dyersville was famous for its huge Basilica, which is a giant church looming high over the surrounding cornfields.

To folks unfamiliar with the movie Field of Dreams, none of this makes any sense and you can leave now, if you wish.

But to baseball fans like myself, that movie is one of my all-time favorites.

And that movie and that baseball field are big news because of a big game occurring there Thursday evening.  

 Major League Baseball will host the Field of Dreams Game, featuring a matchup between the New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox , where “Field of Dreams” was filmed. 

According to the Fox Network, which is airing the game, here’s everything you need to know about the magical festivities set to take place Thursday in Iowa: 

What is the Field of Dreams” – Field of Dreams” is a classic 1989 baseball flick featuring Kevin Costner, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, the old-school Black Sox and Iowa corn fields.

In the film, Costner’s character, Ray Kinsella, begins to see ghosts in the cornfields and hear a voice, telling him, “If you build it, he will come.” 

Ray’s journey brings him face-to-face with former White Sox players and the ghost of his father. In the end, he accomplishes his mission to build a baseball field in the rural area, attracting cars full of fans who come to watch the mythical baseball players showcase their skills on the enchanted field.

Fast-forward to 2021, and the iconic movie is still relevant today, as 8,000 fans will watch the Yankees and White Sox surrounded by the Iowa cornfields. 

What time is the game? How can I watch? – The game will take place at 6:15 p.m. Thursday on FOX.

I will be watching. I hope you will, too!

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Bill Sniffin: My Wyoming Bucket List For 2021 Includes All Of The Cowboy State

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher 

There are literally millions of Americans who will be visiting Wyoming this summer seeking out those secret spots.  I will be one of them.

This column is my annual “Wyoming Bucket List” of those places that I have always wanted to visit. Some of them were featured in my three- volume trilogy of coffee table books about Wyoming but many were not. 

Either way, I am eager to go see them. 

Now readers need to know that Wyoming is full of many of the most scenic places in the world, such as Yellowstone National Park, Teton National Park, Devils Tower National Monument, the Medicine Wheel,  the Oregon Trail, the Red Desert, and the Wind River Indian Reservation. 

I have been to those places and, if you have not, I would encourage you to go there.   Be smart about it, though, as you will be joined by millions of Americans who have been yearning to get “out there,” and nobody does “out there,” better than Wyoming. 

This is the year that I will finally visit Fossil Butte National Monument near Kemmerer. Hopefully Vince Tomassi will be my tour guide as we sort through all those millions of year old fossils there. 

Dave Peck of Lovell will be on my speed dial this summer as Nancy and I want to finally see the Big Horn Canyon and Reservoir. This amazing place spans Wyoming and Montana and it’s time to go take it all in. 

My friend John Davis and his wife Celia of Worland have been wanting a tour of the Oregon Trail.  Hopefully, I can be their tour guide and show them some of the sights here in Fremont County. 

I am very familiar with the bands of wild horses that roam the Red Desert between Lander and Rawlins and Rock Springs. But Pat Schmidt, who grew up in Greybull and was publisher of newspapers in Lovell and Thermopolis, says it is time to see the wild mustangs near Lovell.  We have never explored the Pryor Mountains and we are overdue. This area also spans both Wyoming and Montana.

Wyoming’s most noted historian Phil Roberts of Laramie grew up in Lusk and has always touted the “breaks” north of Lusk. I would very much like to see them and with his help, this might be the year. 

One of the oddest places I have ever seen is Rawhide Butte near Lusk. Quite a story attached to that place which is celebrated each year in that Niobrara County seat. The buttes are a geological marvel.  Would not mind seeing them again. 

East of Jeffrey City is a rock formation called the Castle or Stonehenge. You can see it from Highway 287 but it is quite a trek to get to it. Charlie Smith promised me he would take me there some day. Hopefully, this will be the year. Lots of pioneer names scrawled on the walls I have been told.

Afton publisher Dan Dockstader is a busy guy, being the president of the Wyoming Senate besides his day job. But I am hoping for a tour of the Afton Star Valley area. It has been a long, long time since I have been over there. 

Here are a few more of my favorite places: 

Did you know that Fort Laramie in Goshen County was the preeminent place in the northern Rocky Mountains for 50 years, from 1830 to 1880? It is a fantastic site with restored buildings. It is a national site and closes at 4:30 p.m., so do not get there late. 

In Cheyenne, a tour of the newly-refurbished State Capitol building is on my list.  It cost over $300 million and from what I hear, it is spectacular. 

Devils Tower was the country’s first national monument. I love everything about Northeast Wyoming.  The Vore Buffalo Jump is incredibly impressive, as is Ranch A. Little Hulett has one of the nicest golf courses in the state, too. 

One of the more unique small parks in Ayer’s Natural Bridge in Converse County.  A cool spot that is truly cool on a hot summer day. 

Our mountain ranges are spectacular. My favorite mountain roads will give you goose bumps. Highway 14A out of Lovell, the Beartooth Highway north of Cody, the Loop Road outside of Lander are some of the most scenic.  Shell Canyon out of Greybull and Tensleep Canyon out of Worland are terrific mountain passes with good roads. 

The brand new National Museum of Military Vehicles just south of Dubois will take your breath away.  At a cost of over $200 million, Dan, Cynthia, and Alynne Starks have created a modern masterpiece. 

Those a few of the places listed on my 2021 edition of the Wyoming Bucket List.  What are some of yours?

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