SHERIDAN — She blew into town at 1 a.m., slept three hours and woke up at 4 a.m. to join one of Sheridan’s beloved parade day traditions. Marsha Ras, decked out in a blue Kiwanis apron and wielding a pancake flipper like a pro, was joking with the locals like a local herself at Friday’s Kiwanis pancake breakfast on Grinnell Plaza. It was hard to tell she was in Wyoming for the first time in her life — and had only been here five hours at that.
Then again, the events that lead her and her husband Steve here in the first place weren’t exactly mundane either.
The Ras’ are from Waterford, N.Y. Two years ago during Hurricane Irene, they decided to put their own worries about the hurricane aside and see if there were any boaters in the nearby Erie Canal they could help.
Harlan and Sharon Rasmussen of Sheridan were stuck between two canal locks in what is known as the “flight,” a series of several locks in Waterford.
“They were self sufficient and safe, but they couldn’t go anywhere. It’s like being locked in a bathtub,” Ras said. “If I were in the same circumstance, I’d hope that somebody would, you know, follow the golden rule.”
The two couples formed a fast friendship over dinner, shopping and exploring museums together. While off their boat, the Rasmussens told their new friends all about their goal to complete the “Great Loop,” a 7,200-nautical-mile boating excursion from Washington, D.C., out the Chesapeake River, down the Delaware River, into the Atlantic Ocean, up to New York, up the Hudson River, through the Erie Canal, through the Great Lakes to Chicago, down the Chicago Waterway, down the Mississippi River, to the Gulf of Mexico, around Florida and back up the east coast to D.C.
“What was so amazing about the people of Waterford was that even though they were having flooding, they came to our boat and were trying to help us. And, of course, our boat floats so we had no water issues. They were that kind of friendly people,” Rasmussen said.
The Rasmussens were unable to continue their adventure that year, so they put their boat in storage and returned last summer to pick up where they had left off. While in Waterford, they connected with the Ras family again and invited them to Wyoming for Sheridan-Wyo-Rodeo week and a trip to Yellowstone National Park.
“If you open yourself up to adventure, the whole world becomes a playground,” Ras said.
And so, because of a hurricane and big hearts, Marsha and Steve Ras have joined Harlan and Sharon Rasmussen for a playdate in Wyoming. But first, breakfast. All good adventures start with breakfast.
“Here we are,” Ras said. “At 4 a.m. it was pretty quiet, and at 7 in the morning, there was a happening pancake breakfast with 2,000 people here. It’s lovely.”