O! Wyoming!

I got out of town to breathe some fresh air this past weekend.  My husband and I helped our son move into his new apartment with his first full-time job, which happens to be in Wyoming. He and his dad went up with the U-Haul the day before so I had the opportunity to ponder the landscape alone and reminisce over past memories of this big square state.

If my life was a tree, the state of Wyoming would be one of the branches. Wyoming is noted for cowboys, Old Faithful, and no state taxes. My Wyoming branch has its own set of interesting leaves.  

1. Wind.

Bar none the windiest state I’ve ever been in. You feel the whoosh the minute you hit the state line.

2. W.O.S.  Wide Open Spaces.

  • Stripped and ripped tire parts on the highway
  • Beauty of nature. Wildlife, mountain ranges, and a big blue sky.
  • Energy boom. Open pit coal mines, wind turbines, oil refineries, and natural gas. There is even a town named Sinclair, WY. You know the green dinosaur?
  • Country radio stations. The Ranch Breakfast Show on the local public radio station had me smiling as I was listening to cowboy tunes down the road. 

3. Commuter Student. 

I spent two years commuting to the University of Wyoming getting a post-masters degree with a rural focus. I know the faculty couldn’t believe that this city dweller drove 150 miles once a month for this program. But, the tuition was cheaper (thanks to WICHE) and the curriculum was perfect for me and my husband when the kids were in grade school. I also grew up in the rural midwest so it wasn’t such a stretch for me. One memory of my rural-focused eduation was that some Wyoming residents referred to long trips in the state as a “six pack drive”.

4. A red state with blue splotches.

Wyoming is a conservative state. I used to tell people that the only liberals in the state were in Laramie and Jackson Hole. During my time attending classes there, a gay student named Matthew Shepard was brutally killed because of his sexual orientation. It was extremely sad. The Laramie Project depicted interviews of the townspeople afterward. It debuted in 2000 as a stage play. It is now common educational reading in colleges on healing divisions and understanding the gay community.   

5. Eddie Rabbitt.

When I moved to Colorado in the 1980’s, my roommate took me to Cheyenne Frontier Days. We saw the rodeo, roamed around, and ate funnel cakes.  And when the sun went down the concert began and we saw Eddie Rabbitt. I actually had the fortune to see him in concert twice. Hey one of his songs was Rocky Mountain Music. It was my welcome to the West song.

6. Fond Friends.

We had great friend from Indiana, who spent a lot of summers working in Yellowstone or vacationing in the Big Horns. He saw it as summer camp and it kept him young. We met up with him half dozen times during his trips there. Everytime I think of Wyoming I think of Cowboy Cam hiking down the trail with his fishing pole.  I miss him so.

I wish fond memories for my son for his time in Wyoming, however long that will be. This is his time for his life tree to expand and grow. There are wide open opportunities in that sky.

Your huddled masses

As middle-class, middle-aged, suburban Caucasians, it is easy to get stuck in the same routine for work, play, and leisure. Drive in the same car everyday to work, shop at the same grocery and big box store, worship at the same location, and hang out at the local coffee stand.

We are a one car couple now and we are taking public transportation for work and to the airport. It’s not that big of deal, we’ve done it before, but it is different. My husband thinks everyone should step out of their comfort zone and take the bus in order to experience the world. People of every race, creed, color, ability, economic status and age; take the bus. It is non-judgemental because everyone is treated alike. To ride you must have a pass. That can be paid in cash, disabled or senior pass (reduced cost), monthly or yearly pass.

So I was thinking, how many places in this world are an equal playing field? Where people of all walks of life come together in one place with the same goal? So I here is my little ranking:

1. Public Transportation – The goal is to get somewhere whether it be by bus, subway, train, or light rail.

2. Hospital Emergency Room – The common goal is seeking medical care in an emergency. First one in line usually has chest pain.

3. Wal-Mart – The goal is to shop for inexpensive stuff.

4. Inner city or rural sanctuary of worship – All there to reflect on a Higher Being.

The Emma Lazarus poem, New Colossus (aka the Statue of Liberty poem), comes to mind at this time.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,”

Happy Two Hundred and Thirty Fifth Birthday America.

Where do you experience “the mass of humanity”, where people from all corners come together? Do you have a ranking?