It’s always good to be back home in Wyoming

Bill Sniffin

 We often describe Wyoming’s four seasons as: Early Winter, Winter, Still Winter . . . and Construction.

Yes, we are definitely in the construction season.

As anyone who has traveled anywhere across the country recently knows, America is tearing up and repairing its highways. We encountered an amazing amount of highway re-construction projects during a quick road trip from Wyoming to Nebraska to Iowa and Illinois earlier this month.

As readers of this column know, Nancy and I love trips like this.  Here are a few highlights.

I always love rivers, and this trip included crossing lots of them. First was the Wind River at Boysen Reservoir, which is still running high late in the season. 

In Casper, the North Platte is such a classic river. We rolled down Interstate 25 and crossed this river again at Douglas, where again it was broad and powerful.

Once in Nebraska, we caught up with the rainy weather that had bedeviled the Midwest in late August and early September. Interstate 80 was busy with semi-trailer trucks and lots of cars and non-stop construction.

In Iowa, windmills are everywhere. The Hawkeye State now gets 37 percent of its power from wind, which is the highest percentage of any state. 

Wyoming may be catching up soon in the number of windmills, though. Kara Choquette of Rawlins reminded that the $5 billion Chokecherry and Sierra Madre project is coming along. The  $3 billion Trans West Express Transmission line will carry all that power. 

In the Omaha area and southwest Iowa, we caught the end of the torrential rains, which had drenched those areas and caused previous high temperatures to dip into the 60s. When we were packing for the Iowa trip, we figured on lots of shorts and tee shirts. We replaced those items with jeans and long sleeve shirts. 

I would highly recommend checking out the Omaha marina area if you get to that part of the country. The Bob Kerrey Walking Bridge is spectacular with a wonderful view of the Missouri River.

We crossed Iowa amid amazing construction sites and found ourselves in Cedar Falls, a neat college town. 

We drove scenic Highway 3 from Cedar Falls to Dubuque – great views. Dubuque is Iowa’s oldest city, and one of the most amazing small cities in the Midwest. Julien Dubuque founded this historic locale in 1788. It contains classic structures including two breweries, churches, big and unique bridges, and even an ancient shot tower. A railroad bridge that swiveled to make room for big barges to pass through is located there on the Mississippi.

One of my favorite sayings when enjoying a spectacular view with good company goes something like this: “there is nowhere on earth I would rather be than right here, right now.” 

We were there on a magnificent fall day and as we sat along the River Walk along the Mighty Mississippi, I repeated to my brother Jim and his wife Laura this comment. It was just a spectacular moment. Not Yellowstone or the Tetons, but one heckuva of a pretty nice spot. 

Backbone Park, which was Iowa’s first state park is located an hour from my hometown of Wadena. It was closed because of the high rains. My sister Mary, who lives next to Backbone in Dundee, endured 12 inches of rain over a five-day span. My brother Jim called the rain “biblical.” It was seemingly not related to Hurricane Florence but the timing was similar. 

My hometown is located in a part of Iowa known as Little Switzerland. My brother John lives there. We went to the cemetery and visited the grave of my dad, Tom Sniffin Sr. Sure enjoyed John’s homegrown watermelon and fresh tomatoes for a late afternoon snack. 

Earlier we had stayed in Harlan, in western Iowa, with Nancy’s sister Patsy and her husband Roger. This little town, where I worked for six years at the newspaper and met my wife, is the nice bustling little county seat of Shelby County. Nancy’s kid sister Tami, who is battling cancer, was in high spirits and doing well. 

Enroute home, we stopped in Omaha, to spend time with relatives at Big Fred’s, a famous pizza joint in the western part of the city. Some of the best pizza ever!

We traveled 2,000 miles through four states in seven quick days. Saw many loved ones and visited former stomping grounds. It was a wonderful time but it is sure good to be back home in Wyoming! 


Bill Sniffin is a retired newspaper publisher who has penned a number of books about Wyoming. He appeared for author’s receptions at both the Weston County Library and News Letter Journal in December. Check out additional columns written by Bill at and find volumes from his coffee table book series, which have sold over 30,000 copies, for sale at the News Letter Journal.


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