Friday, August 15, 2014

Wyoming Isn't Really All That Free

wyoming highway 59
State Highway 59, southbound from Gillette, WY
Judging another another man's freedom in comparison to mine isn't something I'm known to do. As soon as you point a finger at someone as not being free, there's always going to be another finger pointed at you.

That being said, I like Wyoming.

I like its grassy hills, its miles of undeveloped land. I like its sunsets, its cloud formations, and the sound of a barking prairie dog against the wind in your ears. But folks in Wyoming don't take kindly to outsiders, particular those who bring in a sense of freedom and the guts to cut against the grain.

Freedom isn't something you find much of in Wyoming. Instead the word is conformity. Dress alike, look alike, think alike, act alike. Gossip is the number one pastime in the Cowboy State, because hiding underneath every Stetson is story waiting to come out.

But it's not to say that Wyoming is conservative. It's just that people here are private, very private.  Dare not ask or peek at what lies hidden behind the closet door, you may find yourself with a gun pointed to your head.

Sash and I were departing from our hotel in Gillette on our way south to Wheatland. And the only feasible way to get there is by State Highway 59, another testament to the fact that Wyoming wants everyone to conform.

But I was just fine by going that route. In fact, we had the wind at our backs, and sailing along at 80 MPH felt effortless. Just seeing the miles of open prairie made me feel free, in fact. It was like being in the middle of nowhere, where your demons can't reach you, where the ghosts of your past can't haunt you, and your conscience can finally take a break.

So we pulled into the town of Douglas, WY to look for a place to chow. Not wanting any of the national chains or fast food joints, I rode into downtown to find something different and original. I found The Depot, an Americana cafe converted from an old train station.

Sash walked in with her pink hair and the bushy fox tail hanging from her butt. Waitresses there did all they could to stop themselves from spitting in laughter. One by one, they walked around our table to look at her tail and pink hair. The fact that she rode a motorcycle was probably her saving grace, otherwise they probably couldn't figure out what hole she fit into.

But it was when they brought the cooking staff out to look at her as well, that really told us what Douglas, WY was all about.

Sash wasn't fazed. She had been through worse in her life. And this only proved that she was beyond the societal pressure to conform. I mean, we had seen it all from coast to coast, one state and city after another. When you can pass through so many different perspectives, and see how each are different, it's like being the one mouse walking above the maze instead of the dozens of others trying to navigate from within.

And that's the thing about Wyoming. Sure it's wide open and spacious, but too many people living in closets there.

Digging into all you can eat
bacon at our hotel in Gillette
Sash keeps a package of beef
sticks and cheese in her jacket
I keep a package of cracklins in
my jacket
Highway 59 through Wyoming
is vast with grassy hills
Sash with the Salvation Army
Oil pumps can be found along
Highway 59
The BNSF railroad runs along
Highway 59 carrying coal
Sash at The Depot in Douglas,
The waitresses at The Depot
gossiping about Sash.
Look out Asphalt Annie, there's
a new mascot on board
Riding south along I-25 towards
Sun starting to set over the
Wyoming prairie


  1. To me it is a really sad testament of the world today when people can't accept someone who looks or acts different than they expect.

    Kudos to Sash for doing her own thing. Deep down those waitresses were probably a little jealous of and her individuality. She should have asked if they wanted a picture with her, just to put the attention back on them.

  2. Steve that is what the whole story of Deliverance and Easy Rider, was about nothing has changed in this country. I lived in Wyoming for a while its is their mindset. Sometimes in Redneck territory it's better to stay out of downtown

  3. Steve,

    Sounds like an odd experience indeed. Tina should have asked them if they wanted to pet her would have been fun watching their reaction. I'm glad the ride was great otherwise. I liked your pictures. Good to see Jesus is now riding with you. :-)


    Live Free. Ride Hard. Be Happy.

  4. Steve, "Easy Rider" was the first think that popped into my mind, too.

    Please continue to dare to be different. I love your stories from the road.


About Steve

A vagabond who hauls a motorcycle around the country in a toy hauler, earning a living as a website developer. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, craft beer, and/or public nudity. (Read more...)