Saturday, July 4, 2009

Wyoming - Cheyenne, Laramie, Creston

“As the truck reached the outskirts of Cheyenne, we saw the high red lights of the local radio station, and suddenly we were bucking through a great crowd of people that poured along both sidewalks….farther down were the long stringy boulevard lights of new downtown Cheyenne, but the celebration was focusing on Oldtown. Blank guns went off. The saloons were crowded to the sidewalk. I was amazed, and at the same time I felt it was ridiculous: in my first shot at the West I was seeing to what absurd devices it had fallen to keep its proud tradition.” (28)

“Cheyenne again, in the afternoon this time, and then west over the range; crossing the Divide at midnight at Creston..." (54).

(Outside of Creston somewhere--I never did find the town...)

“There were riotous days in the past when they had stumbled around the streets of Laramie, Wyoming, arm-in-arm when the haying was over, but all this was dead and gone” (217).

“The stars seemed to get brighter the more we climbed the High Plains. We were in Wyoming now. Flat on my back, I stared straight up at the magnificent firmament, glorying in the time I was making, in how far I had come from sad Bear Mountain after all, and tingling with kicks at the thought of what lay ahead of me in Denver—whatever, whatever it would be.” (27)

(It snowed on the Fourth of July)

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Wyoming was wonderful to drive through. The cities of Cheyenne and Laramie were typical mid-western/western cities that I've been experiencing, so nothing remarkable there. What was important was the landscape; there was no sense of monotony when I was rolling past numerous mountains and ranges. Perhaps that's due to the fact that it's in fact a landscape I'm not used to seeing, but most likely it's because it's all beautiful and engaging in a way that wide-open spaces curiously are. Great big emptiness surrounds you on all sides and gives you the sense that every spatial dimension is dynamic every fifty or so miles down the road; where 80 west would climb over continental divides, you can look to your right and notice the hill (bigger than a hill--more like a gentle mountain with big slow curves) you're driving on top of has a long, green, seemingly endlessly descending slope that levels out hundreds (maybe a thousand) feet below into a flat plain that stretches for a distance that can't be determined because you've lost all perspective in the immensity of the land. It's slightly disorienting how wide open Wyoming is. There was a big storm that's been hanging around that part of the country since I drove out of Denver earlier in the day, but in Wyoming I seemed to be driving into the worst of it--not any more dangerous than your typical severe thunderstorm, but unique in the fact that it brought snow in the higher elevations. This was an awesome experience--to see, feel, and smell clean, white, mountain-born snow in the middle of the day on the Fourth of July. Keep your "oohs" and "aaaahs" for fireworks--this was something I'm not used to as an easterner, and I enjoyed it infinitely more than any annual summer tradition.

The storm passed over (or I passed under it), and the rest of the trip up to the edge of the state was cool, sunny, and immaculate. I get Wyoming.