Monday, August 08, 2005

Affectionately known as the "Cowboy State"

For anyone who was trying to reach me this past weekend, I apologize. There is no cell phone service in Wyoming.

Why was I in Wyoming? There has to be a reason, because people do not go to Wyoming for no reason. It's not like Vegas. Yes, there was a reason. I went to spend some time with my Grandparents, whom I have not seen in at least a year, probably more. It was all in the spirit of putting bad things behind us and trying to rebuild a relationship that has, at least since my graduation from high school, usually been cool and distant at best, cold, silent and tense at worst.

Where was I in Wyoming? Cheyenne? Laramie? Jackson Hole? No. Hanna, Wyoming. Situated on a coal seam and with an ever-dwindling population of miners, made ever-more unnecessary by high-technology mining equipment and safer practices. But a mere two generations ago, when my grandparents lived and mined in Hanna, there was no strip mining. Only the cold, dark and exceedingly dangerous man-made caverns underground.

I learned a lot about what it was like living in these places in the first half of the 20th century, and although I was really, really dreading the trip with its requisite derision about my hairstyle, piercings, the dreaded baggage associated with selling my grandmother's car, I was pleasantly surprised.

Sadly, most of what the grandparents had to show me was where things once were- the cottonwood-lined grove where a dance pavilion once stood, the sagebrush-flocked flat spot next to the coal mine where their company-owned home once faced Elk Mountain- it was interesting to get some insight into the lives that miners led in that part of the country. I was surprised at the diversity- Finnish, black, Mexican, Japanese, Italian and Greek miners worked side-by-side and lived in the same towns (until, of course, the Japanese were all whisked away during the war).

So, I'm sorry if anyone tried to call or email this weekend. I was in Wyoming. About fifty years ago.


  1. Call me a freak but I like the sound of Hanna ... has to be better than Harrison, Arkansas, where I always seem to end up when someones butt needs a wipe.

  2. you have to give credit where it is due, i didn't hear a single comment about your hair, piercings or lack of a husband. but i did hear the comments about MY pants being too low, MY hair being too much in my face and MY tree-huggin' tendencies being futile. and i never even sold anything they ever gave me as a gift.

  3. haaaa, that's a funny comment from wee vespa. i chuckled aloud.

    and yes, VV, i promise to come visit when i return to the "land of opportunity..."

  4. Recidivist: at its worst, I don't think Wyoming is ever as bad as Arkansas.

    ITHU: yes, I was pleasantly surprised. Maybe I scared them? I tend to do that sometimes.

    ass: yeah, she's a funny kid. She gets it from me.

  5. I drove out to Wyoming alone about five years ago with nothing but my mom's Chrysler Grand Voyager, a nearly-maxed-out Visa, a camera and my wits to keep me alive. It was one of the most awesome trips I've ever taken. And interestingly enough, I remember stopping for gas in Raton, N.M., the place you have a picture of on the post after this one. I'd never been to New Mexico before, so on my way home I drove straight down through Colorado all the way to New Mexico and then busted a left over to Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and eventually home, just so I could add New Mexico to the list of states I'd been to.