It’s God’s Work
Well, the Roundup Team made it through another State Fair. This past week, we were all dragging, but now we’re up and working on the weekly Roundup and the upcoming Fall Cattlemen’s Special Edition, focusing on farms, ranches and ag businesses in Crook County. We took a day off to see the eclipse. And really, we took the day off because our office is so close to downtown Casper the city closed most of the streets around the office. Plus, we just didn’t want to deal with all the people.
Since we, especially myself, hadn’t been focused on the eclipse, it really wasn’t such a big deal to us. We knew it was a big deal to Casper as we had a number of new downtown restaurants open in time for the eclipse, so we were happy to have more restaurants open close to the Roundup office. And then it happened.
Around Friday, we started to notice more cars on the north-bound lane on Interstate 25 and around Casper, especially in the downtown area. But we just were not getting the numbers we had heard we were supposed to get.
Gov. Matt Mead, on Aug. 19, said he and Homeland Security were worried about the large number of people who would just drive in for the day Aug. 21, and he was right on. They came in by the droves on Monday.
The highways were full early Monday morning, especially from Colorado, but the west central part of the state filled up, too. Lusk, Guernsey, Glendo, Wheatland, Shoshoni, Casper, Douglas, Dubois and Jackson all filled up with people. Estimates from the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WyDOT) indicated that traffic increased by 68 percent statewide on the Monday of the eclipse. Over 563,000 cars traveled on Wyoming’s highways on Monday. WyDOT said that if each car had two people traveling in it, that would be at least 1 million people visiting Wyoming that day, maybe more. WyDOT State Troopers responded to more than 1,800 calls on Monday, more than triple on the same day a year ago.
But there was only one death on Wyoming’s highways on Monday, and WyDOT issued around 100 tickets on Monday, compared to 25 on the same day a year ago. WyDOT considered this number of tickets very low, considering the number of cars on Wyoming’s highways.
Casper was where most of the people came into and not just by car. The Casper International Airport was filled to the brim. Some 170 airplanes landed on Monday morning, and a larger number took off after the eclipse. One plane from the Bahamas that could land on water landed on Alcova Lake. There were a bunch of nice personal jets landing in Casper that day, too.
Besides just one loss of life, the local hospitals and medical facilities were not flooded with injuries or sickness. Eclipse viewers for the most part were respectful of private property rights, in a joyful mood and alcohol consumption was not heavy as most had to drive home that afternoon and evening.
Driving from Wyoming was the hard part, nine or 10 hours to Denver, colo. was the normal, and every highway out of Wyoming was filled.
While I had an attitude of, “So what?” going into the eclipse after a full week at the Wyoming State Fair, but it turned out to be a wonderful experience – one I will always remember. As I look back at the darkness, the drop of 11 degrees and seeing the planets at 10:44 a.m., some say it was magical or mystical. I say it was God’s work.