We intended to leave for Montana last night after Brenton’s show but the stars were aligned against us. We got going later than planned and headed out of town towards highway 77, which was closed. We rerouted to Highway 6, which would have been fitting with our Jack Karouac marathon, except that upon our arrival at the Highway 6 junction, we once again met an orange and white sign barring our path with the foreboding words “Road Closed” printed black on the shining reflective white square that bounced our high beams back at us in denial. We had driven around for a half-hour and were no closer to our destination than when we began. As firm believers that everything happens for a reason and vigilant observers of the resulting signs, we decided to heed the warnings and let lackadaisical ideology dictate our next move. We went home to sleep in our bed for one last night.
We headed out this morning and made good time in my trusty Toyota, making a stop at Cabela’s in Sidney in the early afternoon. Brenton bought two pairs of Exofficio undies to replace the five pairs of boxers that he brought, after I raved about how much I like mine, and the girls, (MJ and Zerbert), made friends in the outdoor courtesy kennels provided by the store.
I drove on to Cheyenne, Wyoming where we stopped for dinner and gas. We found a great Mexican joint called Hacienda Guadalajara. As we filled up on chips and salsa I squeezed a lime into a cold draw of Dos Equis and was shocked at the unimaginably foul flavor that washed across my expectant tongue and gulped into the abyss before my brain had time to register that something was clearly not right here. Brenton took a tiny sip of his beer and we decided that the line to the tap had either never been cleaned or the particular keg of lager had been idling with no patrons for about a year to long. We sent them back. Fortunately, the food made up for the offensive beverages. We split a dish called arroz con pollo, which is our favorite at home. I was ready to be disappointed but was thrilled with the first bite. Although it was very different from what I’m used to, it was definitely just as good, if not better!
Brenton took the wheel and we pushed on. I sat in the passenger seat with the window rolled down, taking pictures of the landscape morphing before my eyes as it only can from a motorist’s speedy perspective. Brenton and I chattered about such inconsequential things as how fast the drive was going and he occasionally interjected with bursts like, “Look at that rock! That’s Oceanic Crust.”
It seemed that suddenly we had crossed the border into a distinctly different state. I knew it for certain when I saw the first thick sprigs of sage huddled in the shorter grasses of the Wyoming plains. The sage drew a content and knowing smile from me because I understood that she would be our hostess for the rest of the trip west, and she has continued to thicken and dominate the hillsides as they, in turn, have begun to roll with building majesty until blooming into bluffs, with the distant white caps of Rockies crowning the Western panorama.
We saw the first signs of all the flooding we have been hearing about when we crossed the Laramie River, and then witnessed countless farm acres completely underwater. As the sage boldly bursts into bushes while we press on towards the Tetons, the air begins to crisp and we were aghast at the remains of graying drifts still frozen in the nooks between the hills.
“Look at that, we’ve got Continental Crust and Oceanic Crust,” I hear as I take note of how the clouds always look epic on a road trip, surreally painted across the azul dome with those classic beams of light shining their rays on someone’s long sought treasure somewhere behind the hills. I wonder where we will sleep tonight and wonder how it came to be that someone owns the side of the road and the sage on it so that I have to decline her invitation to squat with her for the night. “What would be so wrong with sleeping on the side of the road?” she asks. “You aren’t hurting anyone.” But there are too many of us, and we are afraid of each other, and so we build fences, draw borders, and write laws in an attempt to calm our fears.