Wyoming is a great state. I love Wyoming. It's the first state where women could vote, and earned the nickname The Equality State (or, equally awesome, the Cowboy State!). Even though it's landlocked, I wouldn't mind living there. And though you Alaskans may be surprised to hear this, Wyoming is actually the least populous state. Its largest city, Cheyenne, is also the capital - and home to about 60,000 people. The entire state population is about 560,000. By comparison, New York City, the densest city in the US, is home to about 18.9 million. I prefer my elbow room!
Now, I told you trouble was a-brewin' for us in Wyoming, so read on.
We reached the good cowboy state by early evening. We had a long haul before us, as we wanted to stop in Montana for the night. We had just over 200 miles to cover before resting, and allowing for gas stops and the chip-seal roadwork that seemed to dot the countryside, we had around three and a half hours of driving ahead. I reckoned we'd stop at about 11:00 PM.
As we started to cover the open range, the speed limit went up to 75. This was nice, but apparently it wasn't fast enough for the other pioneers trying to cross the grassland; they all blew past me at an easy 90 MPH. After an hour and a half of this, I decided I'd up the ante and roll at a daring 80. I hadn't seen anything but taillights for the last sixty miles, and even the semis were passing me at my speed. I set the cruise control and sat back, ready to polish off the remaining miles in peace.
Even though we were climbing the foothills by this time, everything went downhill real fast.
It started with my trusty companion. Seafoam was desperate for a bathroom stop. The next town was about 25 miles, and she reckoned she could just make it if we didn't slow down. This reminded her of a story (most everything reminds her of a story). She started telling me about an incident on base where she and her husband had been accosted by a belligerent cop for no reason -she was standing outside the public restrooms waiting for her spouse, and the cop insisted they must have been doing something illicit inside. As she told me this, I happened to glance in my rear-view mirror. Over the folded quilt and suitcases and the stuffed Jelly Belly shopping bag, I could see the twirling blue lights of a state trooper car.
"Um," I said eloquently.
As we were on a remote highway with virtually no traffic and nowhere to stop, it was about a mile before I found enough shoulder to pull over on.
Seafoam was crossing and uncrossing her legs and bouncing anxiously. We were only twelve miles from our bathroom stop.
Barney approached our car slowly. He bent down on Seafoam's side and peered in the window through shiny aviators. "Do you know the speed limit here?"
He frowned. "It's 75, and you were going 82." He marched back to his vehicle.
Seafoam was rocking the little Kia with her agitated movements. "Oh boy!" she squeaked. "I hope we don't get a ticket! I hope he hurries up!"
He took his time. Eventually he came back with a blue slip of paper. "Here's a warning," he said. "We don't like it when people speed out here."
|Barney sets 'em straight (click to laugh!)|
Two NASCAR racers rocketed by at 90MPH, my car swaying in the aftershock. "Okay," I said. "Thanks so much." I hung the blue slip on my air conditioner to remind myself not to speed. We got back on the highway, I set the cruise control at a religious 75 and, two hills later, Seafoam declared she could not wait any longer and we pulled over.
"Watch out for rattlesnakes," I suggested.
"You're joking, right," she laughed.
I obviously wasn't, and she gasped in horror. I guess they don't have rattlers in Maui.
We continued on our legal-limit way and made it to the Montana border by 11:30PM. We pulled off the highway at Wyola (just a rancher's exit - there is no actual town there!) at a quarter of midnight and, using our trusty AAA guide, called a hotel in Hardin, the next large town and about an hour northwest of us.
And then we discovered we wouldn't be stopping any time soon.
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