We took off from Hot Springs, South Dakota at 5 AM yesterday in order to cross Wyoming, swing around the Grand Tetons, cut through a sliver of Idaho, and then zip back into Wyoming on the far side of the Teton range . . . all this to reach our final destination-- The Grand Targhee Lodge-- before kickoff of the Brazil/Germany game . . . but it took us a little longer than expected and so we arrived thirty minutes into the first half, and thought the 5-0 score was a typographical error; the drive took a little over nine hours and now I understand the meaning of Camper Van Beethoven's lyric "no one ever conquered Wyoming from the left or from the right" . . . because we entered Wyoming on the right and finished on the left and we certainly didn't conquer the place, in fact, it nearly conquered us . . . it is such a vast sea of nothingness, of high plains and sharp buttes, exposed rock and sagebrush, pronghorn antelope and cattle, dark hills forever in the distance-- Wyoming is the tenth largest state and only has half a million people (and so-- besides Alaska-- it is the least densely populated state, averaging five people per square mile . . . for comparison, New Jersey is the most densely populated state, with 1189 people per square mile) and while most of the day was a blur of brown land and winding roads, there are a few moments that lodged themselves into my weary brain:
1) at 5:30 AM, Ian ate some of my kippered buffalo jerky-- and liked it-- and so Alex remarked that Ian and the ice cream tasting cowboy from Hot Springs should have switched foodstuff;
2) one of the things John Steinbeck observes about the United States in his book Travels with Charley is that the diction and content of road signs change from state to state; I saw this firsthand in Wyoming . . . there were actually two signs announcing one particular "Roadside Table" and we saw our first "80 mph" speed limit . . . of course, you need to be careful when you're driving that fast, as some areas are "Open Range/ Loose Stock" and others you should be "Bear Aware";
3) the town of Kinnear outdid (undid) Interior, with a population of 44 folks;
4) seeing the Tetons rise out of this vast sea of sagebrush is awesome . . . I think we debated for three hours if the white patches in the distance were snow (they were);
5) when you drink three beers at eight thousand feet, it feels like six (I already learned this with Whitney in Aspen, but I forgot).