After crossing the border, the first thing I notice are the pick-up trucks. Lots and lots of pick-up trucks.
We pass a local bar, the neon light blinking open. Pick-up trucks are parked one right next to the other in the parking lot.
I think I noticed that first, because Colorado is the Land of Subarus. When driving around the Front Range, it feels like three out of every four cars is a Subaru. And the ones that aren’t Subarus are some other type of all-wheel drive SUV.
But not so in this desolate and barren landscape.
I wonder why people who live in Wyoming drive pick-up trucks. Is it because most people live in rural areas? Maybe because there’s lots of ranchers? You need something that can haul hay and feed and other things to feed the many cattle that dot these great expanses. Or maybe it’s because there is so much driving, there is a need to take everything possible with you.
Next time I’m stopping by a cowboy bar, I’ll have to ask that question.
Wyoming is the least populated state in the country. If you drive corner to corner as we did this weekend, you will grasp that reality with more conviction.
Long stretches of road snake through the plains, with nary a town to be seen. It’s even more desolate in the winter with snow covering the great expanses. Drifts of snow 3-4 feet tall are piled up high along the snow fences from the wind blowing it.
I also found out that when you have large expanses of prairie, the wind can wreak havoc on travel plans. With no hills or mountains to stop the wind, it can make a mess of the roads. Even when snow isn’t falling from the sky.
As we arrived in Rawlins, Wyoming to spend the night, we see the gates down across the eastbound lanes of Interstate 80. The Hampton Inn is chock full of people on this Friday night, many of them truckers. The highway itself has a long line of trucks pulled off the side of the road. Their cabs are black, the lights turned off, having given up hope the highway will re-open soon.
As we drive west from Rawlins in the morning, the road is covered with ice and snow. If this is what it looks like when it’s open, I can only imagine how bad conditions are going the other way. The car is buffeted by the winds sweeping south to north. I must keep a firm grip on the steering wheel to keep the car in its lane.
After driving for more than an hour, finally a sign of civilization. Gas stations, a cafe, even a motel. But the spaces in between are so much longer. We spy a truck flipped over on its side. I’m guessing this is why they must close the highway. How would someone get help in the wee hours of the night, with these conditions?
Still, a drive across Wyoming gives me appreciation for the Great American west. Though I love the mountains, this wind-blown landscape makes me think of the wildness of the west. I can envision wagon trains bumping along, and women with bonnets cooking over a fire. A man with a Stetson hat on a horse riding across prairie evokes an image of the rough, tough cowboy.
Wyoming — the land of pick-up trucks and so much more that is untamed.