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Over the weekend we made our annual trek to Wyoming to celebrate my birthday. Vedauwoo, the dramatic and beautiful rocky outcrop on Interstate 80 between Cheyenne and Laramie was our destination.

Summer would simply not be complete for me without at least one visit to this magical place. My parents started the tradition years ago and I’ve continued it in my adult life, making it a regular part of my birthday celebration.

Some folks want to have lunch or dinner at a nice restaurant to celebrate their birthday.

Others may take a trip or see a play or go to a movie, or throw a party.

All are worthwhile and enjoyable things to do. But for me, when I really get down to it, I want to spend time at Vedauwoo.

There is something about those gigantic piles of rocks that thrills me to my very core. In other writing I’ve called it one of my heart places.

On the day we visited, it happened to be stormy. Our favorite spot was available and we managed to get in an hour of sitting at the picnic table, eating our lunch and talking before the rain started. Then we scuttled around packing everything back into the cars and headed out. I would have liked more time, but was grateful for what we had.

The sky was breathtaking with huge fat clouds piled on each other like overbeaten cream, adding mystery and drama to the already spectacular scenery. Rick and I drove around for awhile, giving me time to absorb Vedauwoo into my heart for one more year. Every so often I’d ask him to stop driving so I could take a photogragh or two.


When we finally pulled back onto the highway and headed for home, I saw this tiny patch of gorgeous blue sky peeking out at me.

“Stop the car,” I shouted. “I need to get this photo.”

My ever-accommodating husband found the perfect spot to pull the car over. He’s grown used to my artistic outbursts! Or maybe it’s just that he’s grown used to me.

Anyway, I got the shot just in the nick of time because the clouds were on the move. A minute later and there would have been no blue to see.


To me it was an omen, a bit of luck, a reminder that there is always a little blue sky to be found under the dark clouds.

All I have to do is remember that it’s there and look for the blue.

If you’re looking at the title of this post and wondering if my spell checker is on the fritz, it’s not. Vedauwoo is a place in Wyoming between Laramie and Cheyenne. It’s part of the Medicine Bow National Forest, and is made up of Sherman Granite that is 1.4 billion years old.

Vedauwoo (the term is an anglicized version of an Arapahoe word meaning “earth born spirit” is one of my heart places. It’s where I spent my birthday this year, and many past birthdays as well.

Going to Vedauwoo for a summer picnic has been a tradition in my life since I was a little girl. Those days my parents would handle the picnic fare. My father would cook hamburgers over a fire in a big cast iron frying pan. He’d also make hash brown potatoes that were the best in the world, in a cast iron Dutch oven.

I still yearn for the taste of both, cooked by him.

Rounding out the picnic would be watermelon, doughnuts, and maybe baked beans. I can’t remember ever having a vegetable of any kind, but surely there was something. My mother was one of the early “eat you vegetables” kind of parents.

It was this annual childhood routine that became imprinted within me such that now if I don’t make it to Vedauwoo sometime in the summer or fall, I can feel it within my body. I know it sounds kind of over the top, but it’s true. If I don’t get to Wyoming I miss it as much as I would miss water or food. It’s part of who I am.

The novelist Carson McCuller says, “To know who you are, you have to have a place to come from.”

I come from Wyoming and am proud of it. Wyoming is in my blood, but more than that it’s in my psyche. I’ve said in my introduction for this blog that I am a western girl, through and through. There is something about the wide-open spaces of the west that fills me with peace. My husband teases me about blissing out as soon as we start the drive west from Cheyenne.

He’s right. All that rolling prairie does calm me. I stare out the window of the car and lose myself in the swaying grasses, blue sky and a horizon that stretches out far beyond what the eye can see.

Twenty or so miles out of Cheyenne, the terrain begins to change. Small boulders dot the landscape, growing larger the closer you get to Vedauwoo. The rocks look soft and round and remind em of my grandmother’s dinner rolls, rising on the kitchen counter.

And all these years later, my heart quickens and my soul issues a sigh of contentment as we pull into the picnic area.

It was a perfect day – a perfect birthday.

Do you have a heart place? I’d love to hear about it.

Tomorrow a story about the wildlife of Vedauwoo.

And thank you to all of you who sent birthday greetings my way. I appreciate it so very much.

And I appreciate you!



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