People who discover that my wife and I are "snowbirds" often reply by saying "How I envy you. I hope I can be one someday." We paid our dues, however. Oh, how we paid our dues! Thirteen years in Laamie WY, and my wife was born and raised there besides. Legend has it that the chain on the flagpole in front of the Half-Acre gym on the University of Wyoming blows straight out in a windstorm. The wind does not just blow in Laramie, it howls and moans, noisily reshuffling the snow into deep drifts and plastering the roads with ice and frigid ruts. Depending on whether you like the noise of the wind blowing around the corner of your bedroom all night long, or whether the wind drives you insane, you may have a varying opinion of Laramie. While at the University, I often had to travel around Wyoming, including the short drive up Sherman Hill, which is the steepest slant on the entire Union Pacific Railroad, just east of Laramie. In olden times, so to speak, you just took off, hoping you could see the reflector poles through the blinding snow. Now, in more modern times, the Highway Patrol actually closes I-80 between Laramie and Cheyenne, Laramie and Rawlins, and Laramie and Fort Collins to the Colorado line. What wimps. Memories of the wind are enhanced by periods when the thermometer plunged to 30 below zero, sometimes more, sometimes less, thus necessitating covering your nose and face when going outside so you don't freeze your lungs. In contrast, Laramie summers were beautiful, albeit plagued with mosquitos as big as antelope who survived every attempt to spray them into extinction.
Our three years in Cheyenne was marginally better, and our ten years in Fort Collins, 65 miles south of Laramie, were significantly better. But both were still plagued with icy and snowy days more often than we liked. Ann Arbor Michigan presented a gray and dreary landscape, hiding the sun for weeks on end, with more snow and ice than seemed civilized. Penn State had its share of black ice and snow, but spring came earlier than we were used to with blizzards of falling pink and white tree blossoms to ease the pains of winter. Washington, D.C. was a laugh to anyone from the snow belt, as everyone panicked with a couple of inches of snow, closing schools, sliding off roads, banging into each other. I note that D.C. and local area residents still are witless when it comes to snow. Bozeman MT was the coldest. I honestly thought I would be hauled out of there frozen before the spring thaw came and the snow drifts melted.
So now people envy us when we tell them we spend the winters in St. George. I would actually like to go back to Salt Lake, but who wants to go when they are still getting inches and inches of snow? It has snowed a couple of times in St. George, occasionally sticking to roads and driveways for more than a couple of hours. Again, there are no snow shovels in St. George. No 4-wheel drives except for people who explore the redrock backcountry. No Ice-Melt at Home Depot or anywhere else. People have no clue that you should slow down. Same on the highways, like I-15 between St. George and Salt Lake. Drivers are stupid, intentionally or otherwise, in respecting the dangers of snow and ice.
But meanwhile, we are happy that, having paid our dues, we have lilacs, redbuds, crocus, and all of the other colors and blossoms of spring. We just feel sorry for the people in Salt Lake, North Dakota, Minnesota, and other places dealing with snow, rising waters, and flood conditions.