Sunday, 11 October 2009

Wyoming, wide open skies

So, ten days after entering Wyoming from South Dakota’s Black Hills, we left it via the southwestern corner bordering Utah.
What a state. It’s a massive area (365 miles by 265 miles), holding a population of just 500,000. Pictured on its license plate is a bucking bronco, which does seem to sum up the state’s sentiment: wild, open and solitary.
A lot of the housing is trailer based, with the odd nonsensical, misplaced McMansion. But that’s not the point, you don’t go to Wyoming for the lodging, but for the ravishing, endless landscapes which form the background and foreground of life there. It certainly leaves you with a sense of your own smallness.

Here are a few of the characters we met:

Mikel, the horse-driving life coach born and bred in Powell, who told us, “we Wyoming people like lots of space with no one around”. Lest we think she might be lonely, she listed the tourist events she offered as well as the number of trips she has made to the UK (four).

The LA-born lady who had left London after some 40 years, in search of a new, exciting start. Her main job these days is tending to the Charles J Belden Museum in Meeteetse. This free museum, named after the eponymous photographer, documented the life and times of this Wild West town starting from its founding in the 1890s. It included a sampling from the town’s Mercantile Exchange of goods such as clothing, shoes, food and measurements, a photo-history documenting how the effort to save the much-hunted antelope not only revived herd numbers but also yielded an international pet antelope craze. Also on display were the requisite firearms, cowboy boots and animal taxidermy (the crown jewel of which is the largest grizzly bear caught in the mainland US), as well as Belden’s famous photographs, taken locally, of the original Marlboro man.

Rex, a Kansas native who chuckled wryly at the name of this blog, saying that he too had skipped town. He, like us, has been on the road as a full-time RVer for just over a month. A kind man, we last saw him on Wyoming Route 28, as his party and ours ascended the state’s South Pass over the Rockies.

Ron Foote, the owner of RV camp Fountain of Youth in hot springs town Thermopolis. A minister preaching love, acceptance, generosity and trust as part of his own brand of what he describes as multi-denominational faith, he and his guitar perform Sunday services before a swimsuit-clad congregation of hot spring bathers. On Friday and Saturdays, he entertains swimmers with country and cowboy songs – famous ones as well as those he’s penned himself.

We’ll miss Wyoming - its wide-open spaces, helpful people, bountiful wildlife and cowboy accessories.

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