Or, How I Spent The First Few Weeks Of My Summer Vacation.
Last night, I got back from a two-week cross-country road trip: Colorado, up through Wyoming, then down to Arizona, then northeasterly all the way back to New Jersey. Quite a trip, let me tell you. A few things in particular struck me, such as the snow in Yellowstone (as in, coming down on us), the descriptionless immensity of the Grand Canyon, that both Tulsa and Oklahoma City are, in fact, very nice cities, and so on. The Oklahoma City federal building memorial was, in my opinion, suprisingly tasteful and well done: I found it very touching and the museum moreso. The St. Louis Arch was neat - generally, anything that is both over 600 feet tall and incredibly shiny will be neat. But perhaps what struck me the most was the cows.
Let me explain: I come from New Jersey. I grew up seeing (on clear days, at least) the Philly skyline from the treehouse in our backyard. My conception of a farm was [url=http://www.springdalefarms.com/]Springdale Farms**, which takes up a whopping 100 acres in the middle of our 70,000-person suburb. Then I went away to college in New Mexico, and spent a year sharing my room with a girl from Indiana. I was at first afraid she’d be some sort of country hick. She’s not, we get along incredibly well, and she’s one of my very best friends now, but she, being from Indiana, knew a bit more about farming than I did. She once corrected me that farmers do not, in fact, ‘grow’ cattle, but ‘raise’ it. I saw nothing wrong with my original phrasing. In short, my knowledge of farms is pretty much: They grow things, and raise animals.
Man, there is a lot of this country that I don’t know much about. Again, I grew up in New Jersey, where you can’t drive more than ten minutes without hitting a town, and that’s out in the boonies. New Mexico seems impossibly sparse to me. Then, my sister and I drove through Wyoming. And drove, and drove, and drove, and were still in Wyoming. The sky is, true to the claim, very big. And there are lots of cows. You drive, and you pass a big bunch of cows. A bit later, you pass a fence. Then there are more cows. Eventually you get to Casper, where you stop at Subway for a quick lunch, and that’s pretty much it until Grand Teton National Park. We passed one town - village, really - and the sign announced the population as 10. Most towns we passed were at least half an hour away from each other, and the average population was somewhere in the low triple digits. For the vast majority of the drive, the only thing that breaks the dizzying view across the fields is the herds of cattle. There are, once again, a lot of these. I had no idea how many cows were in the United States; I know now that it’s “a lot”, and a huge number of them are in Wyoming. Seriously, let me repeat myself again. Wyoming is a Really Big State. Wyoming is also home to, by my count, eight bajillion cows. I counted, mostly because there’s not a whole lot else to look at while driving through Wyoming.
We stayed two nights at Yellowstone (it rained all afternoon, all night, then all day, then it stopped raining and started snowing our second night), then headed south, towards (eventually) the Grand Canyon. We passed, in far western Wyoming, a town by the name of Smoot, with a population of 100. I’m not making that up and when I get my film developed, I’ll have photographic evidence of Smoot. That, for some reason, made me happy. I didn’t like the bit of Idaho we drove through, mostly because it wasn’t just snowing at that point, it was blowing snow, hard, and was really really foggy, too. This was while driving through narrow, steep mountain roads, stuck in back of a truck that was spraying on us. That was no fun. I’m sure Idaho is lovely, though: they produce potatos, which I like, and a whole lot of lumber, and I like things made out of wood. That’s all I have to say about Idaho, really.
continued in next post, for the hamsters sake