Jeff Hammer: A not so warm spring break

Guest Posts on County 10 are provided by contributors and the opinions, thoughts, and comments within are their own and may not necessarily reflect those of County 10.

As we were going through security on a recent Saturday morning at an ungodly early hour, the TSA guy at the Riverton airport asked with a friendly smile, “Are you going somewhere warm?”

“Madison, Wisconsin,” I answered with my own smile.


“Well, that’s not any warmer than here.”

“True, but it’s where one of our daughters lives. We’re going there to visit her.”

He nodded his approval, as I slowly made my way past the end of the conveyor. I gathered my two carry-on bags and headed to the waiting area to preboard where I joined my wife.

He was right, of course. Both communities sit at about 43 degrees north latitude, but Wisconsin is a Great Lake state, so the atmosphere is a little more moist than Wyoming, which means of course, that the skies are gray there much of the time.


When we arrived in Madison later that Saturday afternoon, the town was experiencing the remnants of a storm that morning, which dumped about 12 inches of heavy, wet snow, which incidentally caused a nearly four hour delay of our flight from Denver to Madison. The streets had already been plowed, and the temperature, unlike Wyoming, had risen and had already melted a good portion of the slush left over. 

We’ve visited Madison by plane and car quite a few times over the past ten years or so, and more often than not, when my wife and I venture out for a morning or afternoon walk, finding the sun has been a struggle. As a result, in the early years, we became a little turned around. When we finally recognized a street or building with which we were familiar, our location was sometimes 180 degrees from where we thought we were.

On the Sunday after our recent arrival, we continued that pattern and somehow ended up at Fish Hatchery Road instead of Seminole Road. As usual, the overcast of pewter gray obliterated the sun, and we managed to become turned around soon after we left Erin’s and Jon’s house. Eventually, we figured out where we were, and the rest of the walk was uneventful. At least the temperature was cool, so we didn’t have to worry about suffering heat stroke on our way back to Erin’s home. 


Madison and the surrounding communities offer a vast network of paved combination walking/biking paths connecting the capital city with each of its many neighborhoods; so in a week’s visit, it’s possible for Gayla and I to investigate a different route each day, twice a day, if we choose. I’m not particularly fond of larger towns, but it’s nice to visit a community that values open spaces and provides opportunities for activities where one doesn’t have to worry about having to dodge traffic, sometimes from multiple directions.

For the rest of our visit, the days were all somewhat sunny and cool, just a few degrees warmer than the temperature experienced in Lander during the same time period. 

As Erin had to work, Jon performed his son-in-law duties admirably by taking Gayla and me on various local hikes, which we appreciated. No matter where we are, somehow the air outside just seems easier to breathe than inside air. I’m sure that’s an imagined phenomenon on my part, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. One’s frame of mind (at least mine) is always more positive after I’ve expended a little energy walking or riding my bike outside.


Recently, I read a small poster on one of the light poles found along Main Street that made this assertion: “You’re only a bike ride away from a good mood.”

I believe it.

I’m always amazed at the amount of wildlife we see in this mid-sized Wisconsin city. In addition to easily recognizable birds, such as robins, black birds, mallards and Canada geese, we saw wild turkeys, sandhill cranes and LGB’s (little gray birds). My daughter tells me they are chickadees.

One afternoon, Jon drove he and I out to a local trap club. I’ve busted hundreds of clay targets in an informal setting but had never shot a standard round of trap until last week. We shot two rounds of trap each and a round of five stand sporting clays each. I’d like to report a stellar performance on each round, but the truth is far more humbling. 

The experience was fun, regardless of my poor performance, and I can easily understand how dedicated participants of shotgun sports can become obsessed enough with the sport to purchase shotguns worth thousands of dollars; and at about $10 for a box of 25 rounds, ammunition is pricey. I don’t expect that to change. It’s an expensive hobby.

On Friday, Erin had the afternoon off, so she drove Gayla and I to the New Glarus Brewery in the nearby town of the same name, where we enjoyed a self-guided tour and samples of three different types of beer on tap. It’s been a while since my last brewery trip, so the whole process of making beer appears very complicated to me. I’m glad someone knows how to do it, as a cold malt beverage once in a while is a treat.

The ride to the Madison airport Saturday afternoon so that we could catch a flight back to Denver and then a later flight from Denver to Riverton was bittersweet, as they always are. We always enjoy our visits with our daughters, but it’s gratifying to know that, through hard work and determination, they are independent and successful in what they have chosen to do.

Now we have the opportunity to look forward to the next visit.


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