Independence – opportunity

As I ponder the Fourth of July celebrations, my first thought was independence, and how it led to opportunities for those from around the world to come to a place to worship as they choose, with an independent free will created by God Himself, freedom from government dictating how to live.  Government would be by the people, for the people – with the federal government being responsible for safety and security of its citizens, enabling them to prosper and pursue happiness. 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.Preamble to the Declaration of Independence (https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration)

I thought about how conflict arose, and the many lives lost between early settlers and the motherland – Great Britain.  Although there were struggles and loss of life throughout the early years, and each generation thereafter, life, liberty and pursuit of happiness were destined to prevail. 

The individual, independent states formed a republic with representation in the federal government.  The government provided a common defense, allowing the people to be creative – expanding the new nation, building for themselves a new home, wherever their adventures would take them.

With the expansion west, it became evident travelers and settlers needed an efficient, and safer, means of transportation.  The people were on the move to build a greater nation and accept those of all nations who yearn for freedom, although it also came at the demise of the Native American. 

With the great expansion out west, how could organization, peace and unity be established? 

In the 1850s Congress commissioned several topographical surveys across the Western U.S. to determine the best route for a railroad.  However, private corporations were reluctant to undertake the task without federal assistance. The Pacific Railroad Act designated the 32nd parallel as the initial transcontinental route and gave huge grants of land for rights-of-way. 

The act authorized two railroad companies, the Union Pacific and Central Pacific, to construct the lines. Beginning in 1863, the Union Pacific, employing more than 8,000 Irish, German, and Italian immigrants, built west from Omaha, NE.

The Central Pacific, whose workforce included more than 10,000 Chinese laborers, built eastward from Sacramento, CA. 

Photo of poster in Union Pacific Historic Depot Museum (Artist Art Kober, Thunder on the Plains)

“Each company faced unprecedented construction problems—mountains, severe weather, and the hostility of American Indians. On May 10, 1869, in a ceremony at Promontory, UT, the last rails were laid and the last spike driven. Congress eventually authorized four transcontinental railroads and granted 174 million acres of public lands for rights-of-way.” https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/pacific-railroad-act

Union Pacific Railroad Depot – national historic landmark, was built in 1886 and given to the community of Cheyenne, Wyoming in 1993 by the Union Pacific Railroad Company.

The railroad vastly improved development out west and state governments had to be formed. 

Cheyenne was born in 1867 in the path of the transcontinental railroad, when the Union Pacific crews arrived to lay tracks westward. Cheyenne soon laid claim to a higher status than older Wyoming settlements such as those at Fort Laramie, Fort Bridger, and the mining town of South Pass City, changing Cheyenne from a village to a city in a matter of months. The seat of the new territorial government was established in Cheyenne in 1869.

Women were instrumental in settling the west with their new freedoms and opportunity. They too had dreams and aspirations. No doubt they faced many obstacles and persevered, making way for Wyoming to be the first state to grant women the right to vote.

Wyoming began construction of the state capitol building before statehood (becoming a member of the United States), located north of downtown Cheyenne.

Although we didn’t see them during our visit while the renovation was being completed, the exterior approach to the front steps of the capitol features the State Seal in granite as well as two statues:

Esther Hobart Morris, who had a significant role in gaining women’s suffrage in the Wyoming Territory. The statue was sculpted by Avard Fairbanks. The act to grant women the right to vote was passed by the First Territorial Assembly and signed by Governor John Allen Campbell on December 10, 1869. Wyoming became the first government in the world to grant women the right to vote. Morris was also appointed as the first female Justice of the Peace in the territory during 1870. 

Chief Washakie of the Shoshone tribe. The statue was sculpted by Dave McGary. Chief Washakie earned a reputation that lives on today – a fierce warrior, skilled politician and diplomat, great leader of the Shoshone people, friend to white men. Washakie granted right-of-way through Shoshone land in western Wyoming to the Union Pacific Railroad, aiding the completion of the transcontinental railroad. The famed leader and warrior died at the age of 102 in 1900. He was buried with full military honors at Fort Washakie. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wyoming_State_Capitol

A replica of Esther Hobart Morris and Chief Washakie is in the National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol.

So, as we celebrate independence as a nation of all who dream to be free, let’s be mindful of the myriads from all nations and walks of life who contributed to this worthy cause, often having their own lives taken in pursuit of their dreams and freedoms. Let’s take these differences and unify them for life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. 

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

Cheyenne’s Frontier Days

Frontier Days
Bull-riding statue at The Frontier, Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Since 1897 in Cheyenne, Wyoming, the “daddy” of the rodeo has been “kicking up dust” with the “world’s largest outdoor rodeo and western celebration,” states https://www.cfdrodeo.com/about-us/.

According to the website, Frederick W. Angier, traveling passenger agent of the Union Pacific Railroad, suggested to the editor of the Cheyenne Daily Sun-Leader, a festival similar to Greeley, Colorado’s “Potato Day.”  As a result of that suggestion, plans for the first “Frontier Day”, were formulated in the Tivoli Saloon at the corner of 16th Street and Carey.

It’s amazing the influence of the railroad in developing the western frontier.  I’ll have more on that in a separate post. 

Frontier Days events included pony races, bronco busting, steer roping and other activities.  At the time, the events were seen as a test of a cowboy’s skill.  YeeHaw!

The inaugural event was so successful it was extended the next year to include two days.  A parade was added.  The rodeo expanded as the years went on and more affiliated events were added. Its reputation increased as well. And today it is one of the most authentic and largest rodeo events in the world.

We rode around the event area and it was rather quiet in June.  Can you imagine the excitement and activities come July 11-18, 2019, when the cowboys, cowgirls, livestock, vendors and all associated people start converging on the site?  I’m sure it is a wild ride. 

Have you attended the frontier days? How about a rodeo?

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

Iron Horse

Locomotive on display in Wyoming Welcome Center

Wheels roll, full steam ahead, though not too fast

Metal clanging, chugging, pulling struggles behind

The iron moves, clinging to track unfurled, whistles with blast

Past the horse, natural worker, attached by family, farm and beauty.

Now is beauty full of metal – stronger, no need to eat or rest

Only controlled by owner, feeding water, fuel and direction

Iron horse arrives, relieving hooves that tracked the countryside

Antique work wagon at Dubois, WY museum

It pulls its load, no complaint, no holding back, no need to force the struggle

I’m thankful for the iron horse, the progress through life, achievements to ease the burdens.

I’m thankful for the horse, its beauty, natural flow of free spirit and life, its willingness to carry the load.

Horses and stable at Grand Tetons, WY

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

Journey west

Example of conveniences developed for western travelers. (Display at Wyoming Welcome Center)

Can you imagine the journey west as the pioneers and settlers traveled thousands of miles from the eastern U.S. to explore the west, looking for further freedom to claim land, pursue their dreams and establish homes with families?

Native American lives were impacted greatly as the frontier was being explored by those seeking better lives. Let’s not forget their struggles and desires to live peacefully and pursue their dreams as well.

Tipi at the Wyoming Welcome Center

Imagine the hardships, rocky terrain, streams, wildlife and challenges along the way. Many lost their lives. Many fell short of their dreams. Many arrived. Many fulfilled their dreams.

Persevere!

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

Settling or camping?

Wagon on display at Wyoming Welcome Center

Isn’t it interesting how years ago when the western part of the United States was being settled, they had their share of camping. Do early settlers compare with modern campers?

Settlers must have been mobile campers for sure. Wagons filled with commodities, sleeping in the open wild; exploring ever-changing terrain, using gifts of strong and mild.

Camping display at Wyoming Welcome Center

Campers may come and go, explore on foot, motor – through heat and snow.

One is necessary to begin new life, the other for pleasure, to ease the strife.

Explore if we will, love the land, embrace life around, protect life with a zeal.

These thoughts were generated from visiting the Wyoming Welcome Center during a recent visit there.

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

A large prairie place

Apparently a “large prairie place” is what the word Wyoming is based on – by the Algonquin Indians, according to Ben’s Guide to U.S. government Kids pages (and https://statesymbolsusa.org/wyoming/name-origin/wyoming-state-name-origin). 

Wyoming is the 10th largest U.S. state by area, the least populous, and the second most sparsely populated.  It became the 44th U.S. state in 1890. 

StatessymbolUSA also mentions that according to the Wyoming Secretary of State, “The name Wyoming is a contraction of the Native American word mecheweamiing (“at the big plains”), and was first used by the Delaware people as a name for the Wyoming Valley in northeastern Pennsylvania.”

If one is traveling from Colorado to Wyoming, toward Cheyenne, I recommend stopping at the welcome center.  It has excellent information on Wyoming. 

Wyoming is a wonderful place to visit.  I’ll post photos and information during my next several posts.  I’m glad to have you along with me on the journey.  Let’s explore the area, shall we?  I’m amazed. 

Partial photo of mural in Wyoming Welcome Center

By the way, some of the history of Wyoming can be found at https://www.wyohistory.org/

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

Different drum beat

Metal drum ends provide wall art at Hampton Inn, Mulvane, Kansas.

When I saw these metal drum ends with rust mixed with color in Kansas I thought of our Native Americans in North America.

Not knowing much about Indian culture, I have become more interested during travels across the United States. It is amazing how many various tribes were populated across this vast land. I suppose many of the generations are scattered now and it’s more difficult to determine pure tribes aside from reservations.

As I pondered these pieces of art I wondered if they were made and painted by Native Americans, or even if this artwork is indeed similar to the Indian culture in this area of Kansas. From my own simple analogy, this area is where the Kiowa Tribe was predominant, and a remnant still remain.

So, does the different type of “drum” that is painted trigger any particular thoughts with you?

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

Reach en pointe

Ballet en pointe demonstrates dedication, hard work, strength and grace to achieve to the highest point. (Ballet Cinderella and Fairy Godmother)

Dance recitals are upon us,

Behold the beauty, grace and flow

Of the rhythm, steady movement,

Labor of love, satisfaction, persistence that only family may know.

Reach above – focus, draw strength from the one who loves.

En pointe desired by one

Who yearns, grows, prepares to reach,

Upward toward the highest,

Rise up, reach for the dream, achieve – I beseech. 

(Images from 2019 “Cinderella” production by Heather Loveland Dance Academy portraying “Cinderella” and the “Fairy Godmother.”)

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

Monarch struggles

Maybe I haven’t taken time to notice but it seems like the butterflies are not as plenteous this year.  I enjoy seeing these graceful forms of creation, and their struggles to become what they were destined to become. 

I’m thinking of what we did for the monarch butterflies during the past two years to help them populate. I prepared a little information and gathered some of our photos as well as video clips. 

Since the lizards enjoy the caterpillars so much I built a crude little vertical, rectangular, screened-in house for the monarchs to munch on milkweed. And, WOW, did they munch. It was amazing how they multiplied. I had a challenge keeping sufficient milkweed plants in their house.

I stopped by Ace Hardware one day and happened to notice this nice, larger, butterfly house. They weren’t selling it but it sure posed some ideas of expansion. Well, back to the growth process.

I think you’ll get a laugh out of the video piece as one monarch can’t get a little piece of leaf off its antennae (tentacles), and the challenge of finding a place to “hang out.” 

We can learn from the butterfly – to not give up but persevere through the challenges.  That’s what I thought when I looked back over my photos and video clips.

The monarchs really enjoy feasting on the milkweed plants, and then they mate.  Females lay their eggs . Caterpillars hatch, feast, chrysalize, and metamorphose into new butterflies, which set off northward toward yet new breeding grounds.

Come fall, the great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren of the original migrants head south, returning to trees that neither their parents nor even their grandparents ever knew.  https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/06/monarch-butterflies/590908/

Apparently many believe the monarch butterflies are the most beautiful of all butterflies, and are considered the “king” of the butterflies, hence the name “monarch.”

Monarch butterflies go through four stages during one life cycle, and through four generations in one year.

The four generations are actually four different butterflies going through these four stages during the year until it is time to start over again with stage one and generation one.

Here is some neat information from https://www.monarch-butterfly.com/.  In March and April the eggs are laid on milkweed plants. They hatch into baby caterpillars, also called larvae. It takes about four days for the eggs to hatch. Then the baby caterpillar doesn’t do much more than eat the milkweed in order to grow.

After about two weeks, the caterpillar will be fully-grown and find a place to attach itself so it can start the process of metamorphosis. It will attach itself to a stem or a leaf using silk and transform into a chrysalis. Although, from the outside, the 10 days of the chrysalis phase seems to be a time when nothing is happening, it is really a time of rapid change.

Within the chrysalis the old body parts of the caterpillar are undergoing a remarkable transformation, called metamorphosis, to become the beautiful parts that make up the butterfly that will emerge.

The monarch butterfly will emerge from the pupa and fly away, feeding on flowers and just enjoying the short life it has left, which is only about two to six weeks. This first generation monarch butterfly will then die after laying eggs for generation number two.

The second generation of monarch butterflies is born in May and June, and then the third generation will be born in July and August. These monarch butterflies will go through exactly the same four-stage life cycle as the first generation did, dying two to six weeks after it becomes a beautiful monarch butterfly.

Let’s enjoy life all around us and take time to think about the butterfly.  They can help us relate to life a little better.

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

We complicate life

Life is simple when we choose,

Accepting things as they seem to be,

Yet wondering if we win or lose,

That which we can, and cannot see.

We walk; sometimes run

To that we desire, and want;

Not thinking of the other,

Struggling through life, and others haunt.

Let go; life is short, but we can’t see clearly;

Pushing, pulling, complicating, not looking above,

Realizing one who loves us dearly,

Let’s keep it simple, led by the one who loves.

These were my thoughts when I read a devotional by Chuck Swindoll on Wednesday. He provides excellent insight and wisdom for today’s living. /insight.org/resources/daily-devotional/individual/keep-it-simple1

We all believe differently but let’s consider the Love that abounds, for us and others.

Blessings along the Way!

Ron