We pretty much only saw Wyoming from the car. We drove through its south-west corner to get from South Dakota to Colorado. I don’t know if the entire state is like this, but the little bit we saw was bleak. Highway-side towns comprised of small clutch of ramshackle buildings, rows of white, bare trees like arthritic skeletons offering the only shade for miles around, and empty, rolling planes fading toward the horizon in all directions.
It’s the tenth largest state in the Union, yet it has the lowest population of all of them – less than 600,000 people live in all of Wyoming. It is pretty darn empty.
At one point, one of those brown recreation signs along the highway caught my eye – “Oregon Trail Ruts“. Apparently there was so much covered-wagon traffic in this particular area that the wheel ruts can still be seen to this day. It was not hard to picture pioneers making their way across the empty vast planes on either side of the highway. I have to wonder if the landscape has changed at all in the 150+ years since those people took their fate, luck and lives in their hands and crossed the country into an unknown future.
Even in our little SUV, behind glass and with freshly bought bottles of water in our cup holders, I still felt exposed in Wyoming. At the mercy of the sun that burned my cheeks through the wind screen, overwhelmed by the emptiness all around, speculating in the back of my thoughts about how far the next rest stop might be…
It wasn’t a far jump for my mind to be able to speculate about what it was like for the pioneers pressing westward. A place as big and empty as Wyoming does make one’s imagination wander…
And maybe it was just the timing – the sun’s harshness softening as twilight set in, but after leaving Wyoming, something about Colorado seemed instantly and entirely less harsh.
Driving day: Wyoming to Colorado
Oh Wyoming, so
vast and so empty! Where am
I supposed to pee???
No where to run, no where to
hide under this sky.
We cross the border
into Colorado as
the sun softly sets.
Gold clouds smudge the sky
and blue mountains fade to grey
as twilight gathers.