Thursday, August 18, 2005

Forced Slowness

I don't know how many times I've heard someone complain about driving across Wyoming. You know, they enjoyed their trip, but could have done without the WY stretch. Usually, I offer little argument and just let them have their say. I even on occasion agree with them, conceding that, "There's not much out there". Well today I set the record straight. I like driving across Wyoming, and if you don't, you are missing out. I find the wide-open expanses to be inviting. The earth seems to open its arms and encourage you to explore every inch. Wyoming welcomes you, with nothing to hide as it reveals scene after scene of unreserved openness.

Many of the hikes in my home, the Pacific Northwest offer a parallel. It seems most hikes in the NW are designed to put you in a spot where you can see for miles. It may be a peak, or a meadow or a ridgeline, but we are drawn to places where we can let our vision relax as we enjoy an unobstructed view. For me, the same is found driving across WY. The same vistas we chase as we climb Cascade peaks are unfurled before your windshield as you drive the interstates of Wyoming.

I also enjoy the contrast that Wyoming’s high plains provide to other parts of the country. Trees are great, but they do not have a corner on beauty. Fields of sage and grass are beautiful, rolling hills are beautiful as are erosion revealed crags.
I think perhaps my favorite part of traveling across the first state to allow women to vote is the slowness with which things pass by. With such a wide view, the scenes move by slowly, no matter how quickly you drive. You don’t find this pace in a forest as it rushes by. It allows you to breathe deep, to dwell on the full picture and enjoy its entireness.

For many, a trip is just a destination. They want the driving part to rush by and I think the forced slowness of Wyoming inhibits their hurry. I, however, relish it and look forward to seeing it creep by many more times.

My wife Christa took each photo on this blog as we drove across this gorgeous state.


Blogger kristi w said...

I agree that Wyoming is beautiful. I have fond memories of those long drives (you describe it well).

I think where we are comfortable really relates to what we are used to or what we grew up with. A pure-bred Texan relative had serious issues with claustraphobia in the Northwest, the view of the big sky being obstructed by the trees and hills. Whenever I'm in a flat place, though, I feel like I'm going to get blown off of the earth (I need a tree to grab on to!)

I'm glad you two got to slow down and enjoy yourselves on the drive.

Thu Aug 18, 02:45:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Jason Hill said...

I can see your point. But, I don't think you would say that the flat place is unappealing, ugly or something you dread just becuse it is not what you are used to.

Remember it was Al that prompted me to write this post with his comment remarking that the drive "through Wyoming gets a little long...". With all his moving around growing up, he has no excuse to be uncomfortable in that place. (Not that I'm bashing on Allan--he just got me to thinking that I usually agree with folks that complain about the WY drive and that is not really how I feel.)

I am glad you have good memories of the drive, it sure did my soul some good.

Sat Aug 20, 12:07:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Allan W. said...

When Kristi told me about this thread, I decided to think about all my Wyoming stories that I could (I have more than you might think).

I think the WY drive gets long for me because, on the way to Ft. Collins, at least, it's almost there... but wait, I've still got 300 miles to go...

I do actually love the desolation. I lived in the desert a lot as a kid. However, I'd have to give a slight edge to parts of New Mexico for maximum "desolate beauty". The light there is without parallel.

Come to think of it, Southern Wyo. is unfortunately the only part I've actually been in! Never been north of I-80 or whatever.

I also never lived there. For those of us growing up in Ft. Collins, Wyo. was always a place to go through to get somewhere else. Cheyenne or Laramie always felt like the ends of the earth.

Someday I want to visit your folks in Sheridan (is that right?). I think that would be cool.

I'll have to dig up my Wyo. stories and write them, when I have time.

Sat Aug 20, 11:34:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Allan W. said...

Here's the first one.

Sun Aug 21, 09:55:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Jason Hill said...

Cool. I'm looking forwad to hearing about your Wyo tales. Actually I'd love to hear anyone's road trip tales as they recall their time in my home state. Good, bad, funny, sad or otherwise. We can gather them all up and publish a book. Or at least a web-ring :)

Sun Aug 21, 06:20:00 PM PDT  

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