Population 1

For the Fourth, we went to Buford, Wyoming: Population 1 (it said that right on the sign). We were at a little campground that’s up just a little ways from I-80 between Laramie and Cheyenne. Our elevation was somewhere around 8,000 feet, and I was struck by the difference in the flora.

When I came to Kansas to interview (in September, after the heat had passed), I couldn’t believe how green everything was. I must’ve said it to 20 people when I got back, “It’s just so green there!” It made such an impression because you don’t really notice how not green it is in the West (I lived in Loveland, Colorado). One of the things that continually amazed me was how dry everything was. I know people always talk about the humidity differences between here and there, but it’s not like the eastern slope is a desert, right? Well, actually it is, especially during the drought times.

This year has been a wet year for them, though. Wyoming on the Fourth was certainly greener than usual. It actually felt hot and sticky at least one afternoon. We go back to that campground every year, and I saw flowers I hadn’t seen up there before.  These flowers (on the right) are mostly alpine desert, but with a few that I might find in my backyard thrown in.

We set up our tent in the dark, and this prickly pear grouping was right outside the door of our tent. (I succeeded in not poking myself, but one of my traveling companions was not so lucky.)

We had a great dog next door, “Shim.” Let’s just say he wasn’t watch-dog material. Though as we were packing up, he did try lying on the tent to get us to pet him (it worked).

While I don’t live anywhere that most would qualify as a “city” (Topeka is pretty urban for Kansas), I still sometimes feel hemmed in by streetlights and paved roads. I get a hankerin’ for wide open spaces and sandy soil. And, to be honest, a good drive across Nebraska, where you can see the weather coming can be just what I need.

Where do you go to recharge? What’s “home” to you?

Published on Jul 25, 2008

Grit Magazine

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