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Published: November 22nd 2014
Downtown seen from the highway
Ladies and gents, I made it to greener and slightly warmer pastures. As we left Utah we did not head directly west, as so often suggested, through the beautiful Rocky Mountain landscape towards Colorado. Too easy, too boring, too nice. We took the hardcore way out. The hardcore way means crossing one of the emptiest, windiest and generally most hostile places I ever came across: The cowboy renegade wild west although being somehow central state of Wyoming. For those of you who have never heard of this place, let me give you a short introduction. Wyoming is the 10th biggest state of the US and at the same time the least populated. Quite impressive considering that most of the last 3 weeks we have been driving through all kinds of landscapes which had one thing only in common: emptiness. Ready for more. What is Wyoming famous for, you might ask. As far as I know it is famous for 2 things. Number 1, coal mines and number 2, cowboys. I am not sure about the coal thingy but the capital Cheyenne indeed smells a little burned so I suppose its true. Regarding the cowboys, yes we met some too and I
will come to that later. The most famous feature of the state is the Yellowstone National Park in the north but we did not drive there for time reasons.
As soon as we left Utah heading north-west we also left the beauty of the Rockies behind and the landscape slowly transformed from towering snowy peaks to a more flat and slightly hilly landscape. If there was dew on the fields of Utah, in Wyoming this transformed into real snow although the roads were quite clean and we did not have any major trouble with our summer-equipped car. Not only the landscape changed but also the temperature dropped drastically. If Utah was freezing, Wyoming was just beyond imagination! Also, the state of Wyoming is famous for being extremely windy and we got a good taste of the icy breeze sweeping through the seemingly endless planes. We drove for hours and hours without ever turning left or right, just heading west towards the capital Cheyenne. After a half day of driving we realized we wouldn't make it that far and decided to stop somewhere in the middle.
Somewhere in the middle is an arduous statement in a place like Wyoming.
Downtown at sunset
You do have a geographic middle of course but there are hardly any villages. Eventually we found a place called Rawlins, not much more than an exit of the highway really but there were the usual US-Style (not American) Indian-run motels and an adjoining stake house. Not too bad and we read that Wyoming, being the backwater that it is, is famous for game meat and steaks in general. In this case we were not disappointed! Next day we found our car in the snow with the icy winds slapping us for a wake up call. Luckily our car battery is ok and so we managed to leave Rawlins behind and head further east towards the capital Cheyenne. Again, Wyoming did not get much more exciting than it was. Passing by other endless hills and snowy planes we finally made it to the (not-so-big) city.
Cheyenne is pretty much water happens if chief Jay Strongbow marries a Russian woman and moves up to Vladivostok. In other words, it seems like a semi-abbandoned little Western town with Siberian winds sweeping through its empty streets. We walked up the main road several times and after seeing the Wyoming state capitol we
Suburbs with view of downtown
decided to hit the road towards literally greener pastures. Not before we went for a coffee anyway, and had a double encounter with Buffalo Bill and Crocodile Dundee respectively. Buffalo Bill was probably in his 50s, wearing a light brown leather cowboy jacket, 5 dollar jeans, pointy boots and a cowboy hat of course. I forgot to mention that he also had a grey pony tail and generally was like something out of a "The Hills have Eyes" movie. As soon as he saw us entering the bar he gave us a major stare-down which we avoided due to the fact that he probably had a shotgun somewhere in his truck. Crocodile Dundee did not directly interact with us but we saw him standing on the counter. Physically similar to Buffalo Bill but without the pony tail he had a huge machete-like Rambo knife hanging from his belt. Did I mention that all this happened at 2pm in a random coffee shop in the city center?! Wyoming! What's wrong with you dudes?! Haha!
Anyway, we hit the road towards the so-close so-far Colorado. So close in distance and so far in everything else. We did not really see the
west of the state as we came directly from the north, heading for the capital Denver. The west is actually the prettiest part of Colorado as it is pretty much all Rocky Mountain territory and offers world class winter sport destinations such as Aspen. As I care less for snow and anything related to it, I did anyhow not mind that we were directly heading for Denver. What to say about Denver? Well, its a large city of about 600.000 people and summing up all my impressions, its' a pretty cool place! We arrived there in the freezing cold evening and did not really get too busy the first night.
The next day we were hitting town and noticed plenty of "recreational" shops... and the bell rang! Colorado legalized private use for marijuana since the beginning of this year. Colorado residents can buy up to 25 grams (!!!) of the stuff and although smoking in public is not allowed, this exceeds by far what people in the Netherlands can buy! Also, lots of souvenir items for sale already play on the "high" (Denver is actually 1.600 m high and now there is double highness!). Contrary to Amsterdam, Denver is
anyhow also a pretty futuristic town and has an impressive skyline as well as plenty of amazing dinner options. Another plus are the Rocky mountains which are easily approachable from the city and tower over the west side of the capital. Long story short, pot heads if you wanna have a good time forget about Amsterdam and head for Denver, haha! We stayed there for a couple of nights, not as long as Vegas but long enough to see most of the interesting features that the city has to offer.
After Wyoming and Colorado, two completely different experiences, we will head further south through Kansas and later Oklahoma until we reach Texas. If our car doesn't break down in the middle of the corn fields and possessed children don't sacrifice us to "he who walks behind the rows" (Yes I am a horror movie buff...) I guess we will make it to the safe shores of Texas! I will keep you posted with tales from the heart of the States. Have a nice day people!
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