Sunday, September 05, 2010

Douglas Who?

Douglas, Wyoming.

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It's not a place in which I've ever spent much time.

While I did most of my growing up 45 minutes to the northwest in Casper, Casper was the largest "city" in the state at the time1 and there really wasn't much occasion to go to Douglas except to drive quickly as possible.

The first (and only) speeding ticket I ever got was just outside Douglas. It's like it's a trap to keep people near there as long as they can. I suppose it may be the largest revenue generator for the county.

As far as I can remember, I'd been to Douglas - actually in Douglas longer than just stopping to pee that is - twice. Once when I went to the Wyoming State Fair when I discovered the jackalope...

And once when I stayed at the Best Western with my mother.

But about that stay? I have no recollection why I was there and why we didn't just drive into Casper or on to Cheyenne.

I might have made that stay up in my head.

Regardless, this weekend I had occasion to stay in Douglas again.

And because I remembered the Best Western2 and know that Best Westerns tend to be, at the very least, a bit more pleasant than, say, the Motel 6, where Tom Bodett3 leaves the lights on for you...and the security camera to catch the thieves and muggers and meth addicts hovering nearby, I told O to make the hotel reservations there.

At least it was decently affordable and familiar.

And it was decent...bordering on kinda nice. The bedding was good and the room was clean.  Yes, the ceiling was pulling away from the walls but, you know, probably the wind has blown the hotel slightly off its foundation and I can live with that.

But the mattress was so hard, after about 6 hours of sleep, I had to finally get out of bed as my back hurt so bad I could hardly stand it. And while the added touch of the in-room coffee maker is great, it's also not helpful if the carafe is missing. And then - and I think this is both a fixture in all Wyoming hotels and a statement about the state and the location - the beer bottle opener screwed into the bathroom vanity was a bit of a decor detractor.


It could have been much much worse.

And I, overall, enjoyed my stay.

The wedding for which I was there wasn't in Douglas. It was at Ayres Natural Bridge just a few minutes' west of town and so, all told, my time in Douglas was less than 24 hours.

But my experience was nice...and kinda...unremarkable.

Like Douglas itself.

It's a typical Wyoming town where the hottest thing going is the hotel bar and the high school football games.

It's cold in the winter and hot in the summer and the wind blows all the it does all over the state.

Everyone, for the most part, was pleasant...although the fight between a man and woman in the parking lot just outside our window this morning could have been done without...and accommodated the city folk right nicely.

But still...I came away today wondering if I would remember having stayed in Douglas 10 years from now or, if I did remember, whether I'd remember why I'd stayed there.

And that makes me a bit sad for the people of Douglas - the people who have pride in their town.

Because, as far as I can tell, other than the Pamida, there ain't much going for it.

1: The population of Casper was about 50,000. Large. Ha! Now? It's around 54,000 and the largest city in Wyoming 2nd only to Cheyenne - population 57,000.

2: Maybe we just ate there???

3: I still don't understand how someone goes from contributing to NPR and representing Motel 6 but, like, whatever.

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