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.