My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

ABC Wednesday: Trolleys, Trains, & Tree Tragedy!

I'll be the first to admit, the quality of this batch of photos ~ shot in low light without a tripod with my point-and-shoot Kodak EasyShare (someday I'll take time to teach myself how to use the manual settings, honest!) ~ isn't terrific. But what they lack in quality they make up for in quantity! :-) I had no trouble taking photos to share for this week's ABC Wednesday post, thanks mostly to Sheridan's 16th annual Christmas Stroll with its tinsel, trains and trolleys, on the day after Thanksgiving. So come stroll (and ride) along with me! But bundle up, for we had a vicious turn in our weather that afternoon with plummeting temperatures, wind gusts of over 50 mph, and even thundersnow! (All of which hit suddenly while we walked our dogs in the park. Good thing our house was close by!) But this is Wyoming weather and ya gotta be tough, so grab your hat and mittens and let's go do some merry-making!

Click on any photo for a larger version

During the Stroll, South Main Street is closed off to traffic, the businesses stay open late, there are contests, free hot food and beverages, lots of musical entertainment (indoors and out!), and wagon, trolley and miniature train rides. Here's a shot down Main Street, with the historic Wyo Theater's striking art deco marquis taking center stage (haha, get it?)...

The Wyo Theater opened in 1923 as the Lotus Theater.
Our cottage was built in 1920, so I can't help imagining
its original owners walking to the theater
to enjoy a vaudeville act when it was brand new.
Wonder what they'd think of it today!

Here comes the trolley!

I love the historic store fronts on Main Street.

And here comes the Train!

And speaking of historic storefronts,
that's one of the nation's first JC Penney stores!
James Cash Penney opened his first store,
then called "Golden Rule," in Kemmerer, WY in 1902.
Sheridan's store followed not long after.

The Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad is one of Sheridan's biggest employers, and we love hearing the trains from the cottage, rumbling and whistling their way through town. BNSF (then called Great Northern Railway, with its wonderful Rocky Mountain Goat logo) was also the main employer of my Italian immigrant family in Havre, MT (the county seat of Hill County, named for the Great Northern's president and builder, James J. Hill). Imagine sailing from the vineyards of Tuscany to Ellis Island and being sent to the northern Montana prairie to work in the roundhouse! But I digress tremendously ~ I just feel a connection to these trains. :-) So here's a closeup of the Stroll's miniature train, its freezing "engineer" and passengers...

You know how sometimes you can take a photo that's so terrible, it's actually kinda terrific? Here's one of mine! :-) I was trying to get a great shot of the oncoming trolley with the Wyo Theater marquis behind it, using my low-light camera setting. Trouble is, that setting takes a long time to process, and you have to hold the camera totally still while it does. The trolley, on the other hand, just kept moving! And faster than I'd reckoned. Great shot or not, I finally had no choice but to dive out of its way, and this photo was the result. It's so wonky, it's pretty! (In fact, I like it so much I chose it for my ABC Wednesday thumbnail, despite it being one of the technically worst pictures I've ever taken. So there!) :-)~

Time for some musical entertainment. There was everything from string quartets to bell choirs, folk singers to brass bands, but I was most taken with this little ensemble of pipes and drums...

The drummer on the right is our realtor's dad.
Gotta love a tiny town! :-)

Let's give a listen (Penny, you'll especially enjoy this!)...

Ah yes, nothing quite says "Christmas"
like a little "Scotland the Brave" medley!

Music wasn't the only form of street entertainment. There was also hair! With icicles and lights! (Hairlights instead of highlights?)...

There were several young women with festively done-up tresses out promoting the local salon, Curl Up & Dye. This was the first one I saw, and so I asked her if I could take her photo - not realizing who she was. See the woman in the background to the right? That's Shonda, one of BW's UPS colleagues, talking to BW while I'm photographing Hairlights Girl. Turns out Hairlights Girl is Shonda's daughter, Brooke, whom I last saw when she was a newborn in a baby-carrier sixteen years ago!

Okay, well now that I feel totally ancient, let's move on to another young whippersnapper sporting a tinselly hairdo...

And now we'll return to the trolley, because it's a) my favorite part of the Stroll and b) a replica of something even older than I am. :-)

The two trolleys that ran that night
are motorized replicas of the electric trolleys
that transported Sheridan folks between 1911 and 1926.
(So maybe our original cottage dwellers
rode the trolley to the Wyo Theater!
Even though it's an easy walk. Tsk, tsk!)

So, enough talking about, photographing and nearly getting run over by the trolley... let's take that bad boy for a spin!

Would you believe this was our first time riding the trolley?
But it stops near our cottage so I'll ride it more next spring
when it starts making its trips around town again!

That trolley ride was such fun, it even made the snowmen smile...

Outside a fun store called Crazy Woman Trading Co.
(And no, that name has nothing to do with me!) ;-)

Wave ta-ta to the trolley till Memorial Day!

We toughed it out from 4:15 till 6:30, but were just too cold-soaked to hang around for the grand finale to this year's Stroll, the fireworks. So we watched (and photographed) them from our cottage windows...

I wasn't kidding about those terrible wind gusts. The next morning, when we let our dogs out to take care of business, Tess started growling and Willow started barking at something. Expecting to see a cat, loose dog, or someone lurking where someone had no business being, imagine our dismay at seeing that the dogs were reacting to a venerable old juniper tree a couple lots over from us that had been uprooted by the storm!

That building in the background is an old garage
where we're temporarily storing some of our stuff!
Glad the tree didn't land on it!

Trying to make lemonade out of this tree tragedy lemon, we trimmed some of the fragrant branches and are using them in our holiday decor. With our landlord's permission, I also put an ad on Freecycle for other to do the same, or cut up the trunk to take away for firewood. But so far I think the only taker has been our next door neighbor. Too bad!

Update: The tree was cut into large logs and taken by a wood carver. Apparently wood carvers love to work with juniper, so the beautiful tree will be turned into different things of beauty now. :-)

Care for another cup of T?
Visit this week's...


  1. Nice post! I like the videos and the "terrible" photo!

  2. The 'terrible' photo does have a charm of it's own! It could be renamed' Trolleys through the eyes of someone 'three sheets to the wind'....which just happens to be my post!

  3. Terrific to share your Travels. So different from what I can see here. Thank you.

  4. Hi, new follower via ABC Wednesday

  5. Very festive, and with videos to boot.
    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  6. Love the photos, especially the ones of the trolley (which we call a tram.
    What fun to live in a small town - what a great sense of community.

  7. Sounds like a great night. I love when streets are closed to traffic for special events...makes everything feel so much more must have been nice back in they days when the trolleys ruled the streets and not cars. And, it's really nice when you can walk everywhere you need to go...especially when it means home is nearby in a snowstorm!

    I think the photos are great; I really like the one that you say is terrible.

  8. Love all of your pictures and your small town feel. They just say Christmas. I even like the fuzzy one. It has a jolly feel to it.

  9. Poor tree — I hate when trees topple. I love your night pics — they have a magical quality you would never have captured with a tripod and perfect settings! They have just the right amount of atmospheric blur. :D

  10. Whoa, that's quite the wind! I hate when it gets dangerous windy like that, but thundersnow is so cool! We've only had it here a few times.

    It looks like a fun time and I really liked the video with the bagpipes. The trolley ride would be especially fun and you're right, that picture is awesome! Sometimes what goes wrong makes things perfectly right. :)

  11. Fab post! How great that your town puts on something like that, the trolleys are something we don't have here. I love the decorated hair, never seen anything like it before! Now what have I told you before about critiquing your photos? What you say is 'note how I deliberately de-focussed the lens to give a sense of movement and drama'. Actually it's a damn good shot! Oh that poor tree... my friend Sandra has a wood-burning stove and wood have been there like a shot. By the way, it's official, my camera is off to be repaired and is all wrapped up ready to go... have had to get the old 400D out (which Posky refuses even to look at as he thinks it will take inferior pics of him). Just put the Christmas tree up, it's black and has pinky/purple decorations - very dramatic (the tree and everything on it was £5 in last January's sale!). Am now off to get ready to go to see 'The Silence', a German film playing at Warwick Arts Centre (it will take my mind off being 7D-less!!). By the way, Photobox has a challenge on for December, a different one every day. Toodle pip!

  12. Jeannelle ~ Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed them, and appreciate your support on the "terrible" photo, especially. :-)

    Jane ~ Thanks, I thought it did too, and love your name for it! (Haven't had a chance to check out your post, but I will - I'm curious about the origin of that phrase).

    Ellie C ~ Travels by Trolley. Sounds way more exotic than a 5-minute run up and down a section of Main Street, 3 blocks from our house! LOL

    Sue J-B ~ Welcome, and thanks for joining my happy little band of fun followers! :-)

    ROG ~ Oh yes, had to include some sounds along with the sights. I'm working on a scratch-n-sniff feature, so I can share the scents as well! Then you could have enjoyed the aroma of hot mulled cider. :-)

    jabblog ~ Thank you! Do trams still run there? Small towns are fun, and Sheridan's just about the right size, I think.

    Rose ~ I know, I love the closed streets thing too (and places like Pearl Street in Boulder that are always closed to traffic). It was nice being able to wander around Main St and take photos without having to worry about cars. And you have no idea how much I'm loving getting to walk nearly everywhere! Such a treat!

    I'm glad you like the photos ~ special thanks for showing some love to the terrible one! :-)

    photowannabe ~ I'm really glad to hear they captured that quintessential small-town Christmassy feel for you, because that was very much how it felt in person. And I love that you think the fuzzy one has a jolly feel! A jolly trolly. :-)

  13. Andrea ~ Oh, I know! (And why didn't I think of "topple?" Great t-word!) We couldn't believe it when we saw that poor old tree laying there like that (it still is!) We never even heard it fall, must have slept right through it even though our bedroom window and the dog's "pooch porch" face it.

    "Atmospheric blur" - you guys are great, coming up with such poetic turns of phrase to compliment my sub-standard nighttime photography! LOL

    Molly ~ I hate those kinds of winds too, and was very grateful that the big storm and high winds (and snow) that were predicted for us yesterday and last night never really materialized. They're sure getting hit in other parts of the state, though, and those winds in California were awful!

    I love bagpipe music, and was glad I thought to videotape it. Glad you enjoyed it too! And wish you could have tagged along on the trolley ride - then you would have been Molly on the Jolly Trolley, by golly! :-) I'm really glad I decided to post the "Jolly Trolley" blurry photo, since so many of you like it so much (or are just being extra nice since it's Christmastime!) LOL And I love your last sentence - that should be on a poster or something!

    Barbara ~ Thanks! Yeah, I think the trolleys are great. In the summer, they take the windows out. I was sure glad they put them back in for the Christmas Stroll! I've never seen hair done up quite like that either! Thought it was pretty fun. LOL re: your version of my blurry photo critique. That's exactly what I'd meant to write, of course, I must have just had my fingers on the wrong keys so it came out "This photo sucks." LOL And you don't think my perilous story of narrowly escaping death-by-trolley to get a good photo was all the "sense of movement and drama" my narrative needed? ;-) Thanks for your compliment, I really am gratified by the nice things everyone is saying about it. I'll need to do more "trick photography!"

    I can't believe no one has responded to the ad and come out to get some of that juniper tree! Pity your friend Sandra lives too far away.

    LOL about Posky refusing to have his photos taken with anything less than your 7D camera. :-) I hope you enjoyed "The Silence," that your camera is quickly and permanently repaired and back in its rightful place soon, so you can take photos of your tree! A black Christmas tree, never heard the like! Gotta see it! Cheerio!

  14. Quite the tour...thank you. And thanks for at least mentioning Willow (even if she wasn't pictured). :-)

  15. Totally Terrific.

    But I'm sort of giggling over here thinking, "sure, easy to be clever with S and T but what can you do with U and V!! :-)" I'm sure you'll come up with something but I doubt you'll use quite so many in your descriptions.

    My favorite "T"s were: tresses, tsk tsk, ta-ta and at the end "care for another cup of T". Though you used alot of Ts, those weren't easy to come up with I'm sure.

    I really enjoyed all the history you shared and didn't mind one bit when you digressed. That was really interesting.

    I found the story about your family working on the railroad and the information on the roundhouse was really interesting.

    My favorite photo was actually the
    first one. I thought it was amazingly clear and so inviting. I really wanted to be there - although your description of the weather certains makes on think twice - but I went along anyway. I've got good winter clothes.

    Great idea to offer the tree on freecycle - hopefully someone will come for the wood.

    I've stretched lunch as long as I dare. S and T were very fun to do back to back but did take a little longer!

  16. TW! Hello and I'm so glad the pix on this post are showing up now. Don't know what the problem was yesterday! Sheridan really looks like a cool, festive town. Glad you'll be able to enjoy it more now ;-). I'd love to take a trolley ride, so next time you have the urge to do so, give me a ring, ok? Be there in a couple days! xoxoxo

  17. Your T post is Tops, Laloofah. Tip Top, in fact! Wonderful job of making us feel a part of the festivities in Sheridan.
    Yep, liked your pretty wonky pic too!

  18. veganelder ~ You're welcome, glad you enjoyed it! And Miss Willow thanks you for recognizing that despite all its jolly festivity, this post lacked a certain something (or, ahem - someone!) and definitely could have benefited from her magnificent presence. ;-)

    Jo ~ I'll tell you what I'll do with "U" - utterly nothing. I intend to take a blogging break next week! I'm not bugging out because "U" is difficult, I actually had some fun ideas. I just won't have time this week and am starting to suffer a touch of blogging burnout. I'll try to make "V" week, though - what Vegan worth her Veggies can't come up with stuff for the letter V? ;-)

    Actually those T words were no Trouble at all to come up with! What was hard was spotting all the "T"s in my Text so I could Turn them red! I decided to skip all the "the's". Too Tedious!

    I'm glad you found my off-Topic Train detour interesting! My grandfather broke away from the family vocation and became a surveyor instead, working for many years for the Montana Highway Department - so he did stick with the Transportation career field! ;-)

    Glad you donned your good winter clothes and Tagged along! Did you remember to wear those duck feet slippers I knitted for you? LOL

    Spud ~ Me too! I HATE Technical difficulties! I think it must have been a Photobucket glitch, because a lot of my photos weren't showing up there, either (panic!!)

    Sheridan does have some cool stuff going on, some we were aware of but seldom (if ever) were able to participate in, others we're discovering. I don't anticipate riding the trolley till warm weather, but come Memorial Day weekend, I'll give you a jingle! :-)

    raf ~ Thanks, raf! And thanks for joining in the small town festivities with me! :-) I'm glad you liked my wonkadelic photo, too. LOL

  19. the o scale trains looks very cute on the picture. it is really prepared for Christmas.

  20. O Scale ~ My uncle was a life-long model train collector~ such a fun hobby! My understanding is that O scale trains are toy-sized (1:48 or smaller). This wasn't an O scale, it could actually carry someone. I'm only guessing, but I'd say it was 1/10th the size of a real engine. But it was definitely all festively decked out for Christmas!


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

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