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These days, it’s hard to find time for ourselves. Contemporary American society dictates that we spend our time constantly working and make every attempt to fill our time with something productive. For college students, the level with which this affects our lives depends on our major. I am an engineering major, so I find very little free time.
It was a regular day of the week when a realization like this hit me. So I fueled my car, found two interested friends, and drove north toward Cheyenne. My two friends and I set out around nine o’clock in the morning for the two-hour drive to Wyoming after a quick breakfast.
As we headed north through a scarcely populated and visited area of Colorado, it was clear that our day was being spent wisely. To the west were the regally violet mountains that so define our state, and to the east were the telltale amber waves of grain. The snow-capped peaks jutted upward and cracked the skyline in a natural fury. Farmhouses dotted the landscape as we kept moving forward, with our destination clearly in mind.
The Wyoming border sits only about 10 miles south of Cheyenne, so the time between entering the state and the city was minimal. Cheyenne is not a particularly impressive city when you reach it. The difference between being in the city and not is surprisingly minimal, but that was a large part of its charm that day; we did not want an experience that felt somehow unfinished.
It took us a few minutes to navigate our way into the city because of a somewhat confusing highway junction, but mostly we just didn’t pay attention to the signs. We found free parking under a municipal building and ventured out into the bright sunlight and crisp Wyoming air. We advanced into the creaky state capitol building, where a Wyomingite greeted us warmly. Every room of the building was open for exploration, so we were able to view the State Senate and House of Representative chambers, as well as the executive offices and a few monuments to former governors and other politicians.
We spent about half an hour here before wandering up the street to the train station, which is probably the most important building in the city. Cheyenne is defined by trains, as are most western cities, so they accordingly had a museum that had admission for only $5. We explored this for about an hour, which included a trek upstairs.
The upper floor had an exhibit dedicated to the old luggage that had been left in the station over the last century. It was fascinating to see old trinkets, suitcases and possessions arranged in an almost mournful way. These items were owned by another person of another time that feels so lost and disconnected from our own time. Cameras, hats, strollers, military uniforms and even tins of tobacco were displayed, linking a modern tourist to an age long past.
There was even a letter written by a young man shipping out for World War II to his mother, along with his old rifle-green jacket. I couldn’t help but wonder about the fate of this young man and silently reflect on the fact that everyone who came before me wasn’t just a mindless face in an old photograph or a name on a list but an actual person with thoughts and feelings. It is the most common sin of a contemporary generation to forget about those who came before, but these people define us through their legacies. And some, like the young man with the letter, ensure our safety and freedom through the ultimate sacrifice.
This was the last major landmark we visited in Cheyenne, but we did enter a small pawnshop out of curiosity and enjoyed lunch at a small Chinese restaurant downtown, which still strikes me as a strange but unique choice, before we trudged back to the car. Cameras full from our adventure, the three of us piled back into my Jeep and we disembarked for Boulder. The Colorado border snuck up on us before we had time to consider if we wanted to see anything more in Wyoming, so we decided to forego any extra time in the state and headed home.
There wasn’t much to see in Cheyenne, and the size of the city makes me appreciate Denver’s relative magnitude. But we squeezed more enjoyment out of our voyage to the state up north than we could have in class, which brought a thought up in my mind. Some days it’s important to stop and consider your surroundings and life. A simple, discarded letter forced me to reflect on my ancestors and re-evaluate my position at this stage of my life. My friends had similar experiences, and all we did was explore the city of Cheyenne. It is important to slow down every once in awhile and think about where you’re going and what your life has in store for you.
Who knows? Maybe you’ll end up in a downtown Cheyenne Chinese restaurant, just like I did.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Stephen Prager at Stephen.firstname.lastname@example.org.