Launchpad Day 0: Welcome to Wyoming

I arrived in Laramie, Wyoming yesterday, along with all of my other fellow Launchpad attendees, in preparation for the Launchpad Astronomy Workshop, which actually starts today. Yesterday was more of a travel and getting acquainted day. And it was a lot of fun.

My flight was not too early, so my Sunday morning started out pretty much as usual. Kelly and the kids took me to the airport, and the Little Man in particular had a bit of a tough time saying goodbye. He knew I was going on a trip, but I don’t think it sunk in until I got out of the car at the airport. Actually, this is the longest time I’ve been away from both kids since they were born, and it was a little heart-wrenching, although I tried not to show it. I didn’t want to upset the Little Man any more than he was already upset.

My flight took me to Denver. It was an uneventful flight, and blessedly short, as I’ve grown tired of those long flights across the country that seem to drag on endlessly. I upgraded my flight, so I at least had leg room and a decent meal on the plane:

Airplane breakfast

I arrived at Denver International a little early. Attendees were being driven up to Laramie from the airport and so we were all meeting in front of the Burger King on the food court. It was here that I first met several of my fellow attendees, including Chaz Brenchley, Jenn Brissett, Claudine Griggs, Andrew Romine, Jeri Smith-Ready, Christian Ready (not an attendee but an instructor), and Jennifer Campbell-Hicks.

I ended up riding up to Laramie with Christian and Jeri Smith-Ready, Chaz Brenchley, and Andy Romine. The drive took about two hours and we talked shop, talked movies, talked Evernote, and even managed to catch some scenery as we drove1.


When we arrived at the University of Wyoming, Laramie campus, we met the rest of the attendees. These included Brenda Clough, Jay O’Connell, Liz Argall, Caren Gussoff, Doug Farren, Douglas Dechow, and Anna Leahy. Mike Brotherton, the Man Behind Launchpad was also there to greet us. Last, but not least, we also met Andria Schwortz, who will be one of our instructors, and who graciously served as our tour guide around the campus.

All of the writers attending Launchpad are being housed in the dorms, so we checked into the dorm and were assigned our rooms, and we were given our meal cards, for we are eating our lunches and dinners in the dorm cafeteria. It has been more than 21 years since I last slept in a dorm. Here is what my room looked like when I first found it:

My dorm room

We ate dinner together in the dorm cafeteria and that was an exercise in nostalgia. I worked in the dorm cafeteria at my school all four years I was there. The food was good but the company and conversation was even better. There was a lot of shop talk, and I think we scared Andria with our inside baseball of the science fiction world.

As if to repay us, Andria took us on a tour of the campus after dinner. We saw where we’d be having our lectures, and where we’d be doing some our activities. And we got to see lots of the campus, which is really quite beautiful.


And this:

More campus

I must admit, I found this sign particularly amusing, in a juvenile, college-student kind of way:


Two things for which I neglected to take photos were also amusing. The first was a statue of Benjamin Franklin, which seemed somewhat out of proportion. Moreover, no one in the group could figure out why the statue was there in the first place. There seemed to be no explanation.

The other was of a round, flying-saucer-shaped building with the the title, in large letters, “Classroom Building.” You could imagine the questions that arose: “Are there classrooms in that building?” And “Was the building donated by Mr. and Mrs. Jonas Classroom?”

Finally, there was this, which I took specifically for the Little Man, who is four years old. Because, hey, dinosaurs!


After the campus tour, Andria led a group of us to a local pub, O’Dwyers, where we drank beer and talked shop for a while. After that, a few of us hiked a way to the local Albertson’s to pick up some groceries, and then finally headed back to the dorm. We chatted for a little while longer and then, by 10pm local time, I called it a night.

I went back to my room, got my writing done for the day, made the bed and went to sleep. I slept pretty well, I think. I was up early, about 5:30, but still not as early as I expected. I managed to get in about 800 words first thing. I then showered (my first time showering in a dorm in more than 20 years) and finally headed off to breakfast with Chaz Brenchely and Doug Farren. That is where I am now, and we have about an hour before the official activities of Launchpad begin. Stay tuned for more tomorrow.

  1. We also got to meet an incredibly friendly Wyoming State Trooper, but that is a story for another time.


  1. Enjoyed the photos and your comments about the University of WY and Laramie. I was there just a couple of weeks ago for the AIS Educators Conference. It is a great summer conference location (low humidity, nice summer temps, and clear air).

  2. Is there a particular reason for the dinosaur statue? Or is it, like that of Ben Franklin, “just one of those things”?


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