Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Wind City Books

I had the happiest possible stay in Sheridan, Wyoming, talking to terrific kids at three different schools, writing in the Java Moon Cafe, writing in the Cowboy Cafe, writing in the public library, walking along Goose Creek, and making new friends who are dear to me after just a few days, or even hours, together.

My travel plans had to change, so I ended up renting a car to drive home from Sheridan rather than returning by private plane. I started driving yesterday after my final assembly of the day, with a plan to spend the night in Casper and then drive the rest of the way home the next day. I am usually the world's pokiest, most timid driver, but it was so easy to sail along the deserted highway at well over the 80 mph posted speed limit. I felt like Mr. Toad, heading out on the open road in my gleaming new motor car.

When I arrived at Casper at dusk, I wasn't sure where to stay, where to eat, what to do. But as I turned off I-25 onto Central Street, what should I spy but a most inviting "clean, well lighted place": the Wind City Bookstore. It was open until 6. A parking space with no meter was right there in front of it. And so I went in.

Ten minutes later the co-owner, Vicki Burger, had called ahead to Glen Rock to see if there was a room for me in her favorite hotel (there wasn't, and she sounded as disappointed as I was); she had also given me a couple of restaurant recommendations. When I shyly pointed out to her that, although the store most commendably had not one but two copies of my friend Jeannie Mobley's fabulous book Katerina's Wish, they had none of mine, she ordered Kelsey Green, Reading Queen on the spot.

I asked her for a book recommendation, since how could I not buy something from the world's most helpful bookstore lady? "What kind of book do you like?" she said. "I like books about middle-aged women following their dreams,"I replied. She led me to a memoir, Altitude Adjustment: A Quest for Love, Home, and Meaning in the Tetons by Mary Beth Baptiste. It's sitting beside me on my desk right now.

So if you are ever adrift in an unfamiliar city, hope they have an independent bookstore, and set out to find it. Right away you'll be home.

Oh, and buy a book while you're there, too.


  1. Claudia, you must check out my recent post about your visit on Facebook (, because you never got to hear about or see the "tip jar" I found for you on my library desk. Your short time with our students certainly made a lasting impression! Many thanks again for a wonderful visit at Woodland Park Elementary in beautiful Sheridan, Wyoming. We miss you already, exploding pickles and all. ;-) ~Jenn

  2. Jennifer, I ADORED my time at Woodland Park. I will always cherish my special bulletin board - I'm so glad I got a picture of it. And now I'm going to go read your post to learn about my tip jar!

    1. I discovered it was my own second grader who made the tip jar for you! lol -kids are the best!! :-) Even though your trip home was certainly more work than the flight over, I loved reading your post above, and how you made the best of it. I am so glad to have met you and it will be fun to come back here from time to time to check up on the 'every-day adventures' of Claudia Mills!

  3. Jenn, I shared your wonderful post on my FB wall, and lots of people are liking it. :) Yay for your wonderful generous second grader!

  4. Super fun! I only recently set up my own Facebook page...up to this point all I've ever done online is the WP PTO Facebook page you saw with that recent post. I will have to send you a friend request from my personal account. :-) I graduated from Arizona State University back in the day with my English degree and also love to write. I used to write poems all the time when I was a kid, much like you described when you were here. As an adult though, I've found I really enjoy maintaining that WP PTO Facebook page. I love keeping everyone informed about the great things going on at our school with our kiddos. I only recently became the Librarian there this year, and am loving it so much too. You can't go wrong spending time with kids...every day is a new adventure, seen through fresh eyes! I can see why you enjoy writing from a child's perspective...we can all learn a lot from our kids. :-)