I left North Platte, NE before noon and had a really nice drive into Wyoming. The sun came out as I drove through miles and miles of ranch land with only the occasional building. It was very serene. I checked out Roadside America.com before heading out and it recommended the soda fountain in Chugwater as a cool place to stop, so I went in search of that. It WAS really cool and the people there were super nice. I loved Chugwater...it was just a tiny little town, like you could literally shout from one end of town to the other, and there were hardly any people around. I think I saw it on The Twilight Zone once.
After that refreshing break, my next stop was in Douglas, where I finally found the mythical jackalope of the wild west,
I went back in time another hour during the drive. One would have thought I was in a DeLorean! I did love that the sun stayed up so long. At home the sun is down these days by 4pm and I feel like going to bed, but here, with the sun still up at 6pm, it's a new lease on life!
I arrived in Casper around 5pm and checked into my hotel, then went over to my hosts' house. Casper is so high up and windy and there's so much SKY that it felt like being on the top of the world, to quote the Carpenters I'd never been to their house before, and it was really great to meet the Wagners in person after communicating with them on line all this time. . I met Mrs. Wagner and their two beautiful little girls and we set up in no time as the people began gathering. Brian had the street blocked off so everyone was out in the street, and the folks from Expressions School of Theatrical Dance set up truck and sold hot chocolate and baked goodies during the show to help the kids earn their competition fees. Being the mother of a dancer I was A-Okay with that! Our main charity, however, was Joshua's Storehouse, a local food pantry, and lots of people brought donations for them. I was happy to see that the bins were filled by the end of the concert. It was close to 60 degrees out there----so great after being so cold at most of the concerts---and we had close to 150 people out there.
Santa Claus showed up in a tricked out jalopy and he was the tallest Santa I have ever seen...he said he was 5 foot 17 inches! He just towered over the kids but they were all happy to see him anyway. What I really loved, and what has never happened before at any of the tour concerts, was that Santa gathered all the kids around him in the street and danced with them all in a huge circle. It was so wonderful to see! Here are some pictures from the event:
A reporter from the local Channel 13 came out and filmed Santa in the street with the kids, and me singing, so I made the TV news for the second time on the tour. I didn't see it, though, because I fell asleep before it came on.
After the concert I sat and signed autographs and the younger of the Wagner girls sat next to me as my "assistant." These kids were really fun and very helpful and polite. They had two little doggies who were all dressed up for Christmas, too, and you know I loved that!
At the end of the evening, when I was all packed up and getting ready to leave, the Wagners told me that it had been a very special year for them because it was their tenth anniversary this year and it was also the year they adopted the girls. You could have knocked me over with a feather. I had no idea the girls were adopted. They had been in the foster care system and the Wagners had fostered them, and then happily were able to adopt them. Clearly the girls are feeling safe, secure and loved. They were so joyful last night! They are a beautiful, loving family and it was a real blessing to me to meet them and see a miracle in progress. (I asked for their permission before making this public and they were fine with it).
Thank you, Wagner family, for letting me into your lives for this brief time, and also for the box of goodies you sent me off with. That brownie was yummy yum yum!
Okay, my eyes are starting to close now so I'll have to wait until tomorrow to write about today's show. I'm having a wonderful time and have enjoyed this trip so much so far. Thank goodness I have a guardian angel watching over me.