Let me tell you . . .
If you want to comprehend how vast is the West, drive Interstate 80 from Rawlins to Laramie, Wyoming. The vastness is very, well, VAST. I mean it is vaster than any vastness I’ve ever seen.
This Interstate 80 is one ominous stretch of highway.
The first hint is the snow fences. My understanding of a snow fence is it catches snow that’s blowing sideways. The snow hits the fence and drops into a drift that stays put, more or less. That should take care of it, right? Not along this section of road. Snow fences are six deep in places. Six! That means the snow must keep blowing past one, two, three, four, five fences! And the fences are long! You can thank the snow fences in Wyoming for keeping the lumber business alive in the United States.
Another hint that wind and snow take no prisoners here is the billboards.
There aren’t many billboards, but the ones that are still standing have a strange characteristic . . . only half the billboard has a message on it. The other half has been stripped bare.
And then there’s the road signs erected for your safety by the Wyoming DOT.
The first one we encounter reads something like “Windy conditions may exist.” Okay, no big deal. Soon after that, we come upon another sign, “High winds may be present.” Hmm . . . starting to sound serious. The next sign has a wind sock on a pole: “Hazardous conditions may exist.” Not good. This is followed by the numbers on your radio dial which you call when you are unable to figure out what it is that’s blowing your vehicle off the highway. And then there’s the insulting sign at the approach to infamous Elk Mountain: “Why are you still on this road, fool?”
The land is worse than barren.
A big area (near all the snow fences) is plain dirt. Dirt swept clean. Not one bush or blade of grass. I guess if a seed starts to germinate here the wind comes along and blasts it to kingdom come. There aren’t even any rocks!
Needless to say, we make it to Laramie or I wouldn’t be making a blog post, now would I.
My plan is to turn off the interstate at the appearance of a teepee, as directed by a helpful blog reader who camped there a few years back. Not in the teepee. At a campground nearby. Well, I don’t see the teepee. I keep passing exits for Laramie and still no teepee.
We come to the last exit to Laramie.
A sign threatens us with “No services the next 53 miles.” Okay. I give up. I take the exit. It doesn’t look promising at all. Houses, a church, and . . . a Wal-Mart! Hooray!
Now the fridge is restocked with Wal-Mart goodies and life is good again.
I walk the crew along the parking lot. They go back to sleep in the BLT. I kick back and empathize with an exasperated Judge Judy as she points out to a know-it-all young woman that she’s not making wise choices, primarily the choice of shacking up with a guy who doesn’t work and who recently served time for breaking and entering.
I gaze out the window which affords a clear view of Laramie. Well, lookie there. A teepee. Oh well. I’ve never slept in a Wal-Mart parking lot before.
The adventure continues!