We are headed home now. The road is long and winding. The next three days of our trip are purely for driving and sleeping. Not very exciting, but a necessary part of a trip that covers such a great distance (3,600 miles round trip).
I’ve spent the past few days driving through Wyoming. I had no wireless signal, because there were hundreds of miles of remote road and little else, so I didn’t post anything on the blog. I also had no idea how beautiful Wyoming is. I want to move here. Why? The wide open prairie, the high mountains, the beautiful meadows. The wildlife. The cowboys. The unrepentant red-meat eaters. It is about as romantic a place as you can get, if you can tolerate dust and tumbleweeds. By some miracle of fate, I have been spared sights of the large insects that I can hear humming in the grass.
One thing that was a shock to this lifelong Californian — there are hundreds and hundreds of miles of unsettled land in this part of the country. There are plenty of small towns, some pretty and some not so much. The largest town we’ve seen in the past few days, not counting Jackson Hole, WY, had a population of 500 (compare that to my suburban town of almost 100,00). I can’t wrap my head around the fact that there can be so much beautiful, uninterrupted open space and so few crowds of people.
I live on the San Francisco Peninsula. Surrounded by water on three sides, there is little room for growth or expansion of any kind. All the houses are packed close together, even the “old” houses of 100 years or so. Houses with a half-acre of land or more are uncommon on the peninsula, but not in South Dakota or Wyoming. I think it is the idea of these wide open spaces that appeals to me. They say that the Wild West has died, but there is still so much potential here — room to dream and room to make your dreams incarnate.
Thoughtful Husband has interrupted my reverie to ask me how much I would like a wide-open South Dakota or Wyoming space in February in the middle of a blizzard. He’s such a spoil sport.
Several days ago, we drove from Spearfish, SD through Ten Sleep, WY to Cody, WY. This is a scenic and solitary route. We encountered few things except the occasional antelope, elk, and gas station. Once in Cody, we visited the huge Buffalo Bill Historical Center and attended the Nite Rodeo. It was my first rodeo, and a very exciting experience. More about that later.
We then drove to Yellowstone National Park, where we camped one night and then to Grand Teton National Park. We saw buffalo (one walked across a footpath we were on, about 10 feet in front of us! I’ll post photos when I get back), elk, and antelope. We saw geysers, mud pots, and caldrons. The geology in Yellowstone is truly a wonder.
We slept in Jackson Hole, WY last night. It is a cute town, but after the vast solitude of the rest of Wyoming, it felt crowded. Judging by the culinary offerings there, it also felt “fake”. I’ve spent the past 10 days or so eating beef, buffalo, and barbecue. The only vegetable I have seen is iceberg lettuce with ranch dressing. Coffee is either cooked over one’s campfire or on the RV stove. I haven’t seen pasta (ubiquitous in the Bay Area) on a single menu. When we arrived in Jackson Hole for lunch, I perused a menu. It was the first time in at least two weeks I saw the words “balsamic vinaigrette” and “espresso”.
This was a far cry from the BBQ pulled pork sandwiches we ate with some rodeo clowns at the Nite Rodeo in Cody, or the all-beef menu we encountered in a one-restaurant town in South Dakota. The only fruit I’ve seen in these two states are cherries and apples. Being from the Bay Area, I am inevitably a food snob. I like my food, and I like it to taste good. I like organic fruits and vegetables.
All the same, I’ve enjoyed eating the cuisine of a different geographic area from my own. Really. Eating bbq dinner and baked beans with rodeo clowns was so much fun, and I know I will remember it far longer than the Chinese Chicken Salad I ate in the upscale restaurant in touristy Jackson Hole. I was almost disappointed to see the range of offerings in Jackson Hole — Thai, Chinese, Chop House, Italian, Sushi (!), Mexican. A lot like what I can eat at home any old time. Seems to me they are missing the point of highlighting the beauty of what their own area has to offer.
We’re in Twin Falls, ID tonight, and will stop in Winnemucca, NV tomorrow. These last few days are purely driving with little sightseeing. We are on the long road home. We expect to return Monday night.
Went to a new bookstore (as opposed to used bookstore) in South Dakota. Picked up and have been reading Larry McMurtry’s Buffalo Gals, much of which takes place right in the areas we’ve visited. Loving it.