Yesterday Abby, Bridget and I took advantage of the warmer weather and packed up for a quick trip to Laramie, a city on my list of Western Cities To Which I Am Quite Attached, Despite Never Having Lived In Any Of Them. I love the description on this old post card, the "Prairie Metropolis" one, because while it is true that Laramie is indeed located on the Wyoming prairie, it is by no means a metropolis. I would argue, however, that it has one of the best downtowns for shopping, anywhere. I first visited with Jill over ten years ago (!) right after Matt and I moved to Cheyenne, and have loved it ever since. Despite the fact that I got my first-ever second speeding ticket on the way back, driving our old red Jeep with Montana plates. Hmph.
We decided to stop at the Lincoln Monument just before the pass, something I'd never done before. We learned all sorts of cool information about the construction of the monument (at the highest point along the old Lincoln Highway); for example, the sculpture of Lincoln's head was done in Mexico and then brought by train because the climate was best for the material the sculptor used, and it was completed in 30 pieces which were then bolted together.
Bridget kindly stopped making snow balls for a minute (we haven't had any real snow to speak of since the first week of November in Cheyenne, so she was extremely excited!) to get in the pictures. Then she went back to making snow balls and getting the insides of her socks all snowy.
We waited and waited for trains. When they come underneath the bridge, it's quite exciting—they're fast, loud, hot, and feel very close. Some small Dillow girls have burst into tears when a train runs through, but Bridget assured us she was brave.
We nearly gave up, as it seemed to be a rare train-less day in Laramie. But then, way in the distance, a lone engine started creeping toward us in reverse at about 2 mph... it finally picked up a little speed and made its way under the bridge, where a train worker (not pictured) standing on the other end of the engine waved and waved at Bridget, who waved and waved back. She couldn't have been happier. Mission accomplished.
We walked along the path that shared the more violent highlights of Laramie's past...
And then! Off to the best shopping block in the entire state of Wyoming. I've actually been to very few shopping blocks in the state of Wyoming, but it's impossible that any of them could be better than the stretch of Grand Ave. between 1st and 3rd. My camera was happy for some new scenery. It especially loves old doorways with peeling paint.
First stop: The Second Story bookstore, where we spent a good deal of time wandering and recommending books back and forth. Bridget plopped down in the children's room to look at some books and declared "I love the bookstore!" I love the picture I took of her there.
Matt loves the Aubrey-Maturin series (we have the companion glossary, the cookbook, the music, the map book in addition to the series itself) so finding this previously unknown-to-him unfinished novel complete with handwritten manuscript images was a prize indeed. There are more of these Bridget books, I've now discovered. Someone named Bridget is very excited. Coraline and Clementine were also purchased in paperback, for the sisters who weren't so lucky to score a day trip to Laramie.
Next stop: The Chocolate Cellar. It ranks right up there with The Parrot for favorite chocolate shops. When I think about it, I really don't have a lot of experience testing out what wonderful varieties of chocolate are available because all I ever get at places like this are dark chocolate orange sticks, because I love them so. MMMMMMMMM. Bridget picked out a small bag of jelly beans so she could share them with her sisters. She is much nicer than I am, because it didn't even occur to me to share my chocolate orange sticks with either children or husband.
Then we proceeded to Miss Etta's, which is this gem of a vintage/crafty things co-op place. No pictures were taken, but Abby found a pair of purple clip-on costume jewelry earrings that might as well have had her name on them, they were so perfect for her. And at $5, it was impossible to turn them down.
On a regular best-shopping-block-in-Wyoming shopping day, we would have hit Sweet Pickles next. Sweet Pickles is a toy store that rivals any independent toy store in the country for quantity and coolness of inventory, but seeing as how it was nearly 12 and we had been walking Bridget all over everywhere and she was clutching her bag of jellybeans with the promise that she could eat some after lunch, we decided to skip it.
But then there was this beautiful yarn shop right next door that somehow I've never been inside before, so we took a really quick peek.
I don't even knit and I am in love with this place. Isn't it lovely? The owner gave me permission to take some pictures, and I emailed them all to her yesterday afternoon after we got back home. I don't know what I'm going to do with all these pictures of a yarn shop, except for admire them. Katherine, we'll go here when you visit (weather permitting)!
Finally we ended up at one of my favorite restaurants anywhere, Jeffrey's Bistro. It is impossible to order something bad off the menu here. Abby and I had sandwiches, which were superior to just about anything I've had to eat in a very long time.
At this point, despite the fact that we still hadn't wandered around the rest of downtown, it was time to head back. I think that's the best thing about a favorite place, though—that you're never really done with it, because you always want to go back and revel in the familiarity of it or discover a new corner you've previously missed. So, until then...