Heading West — Day Four

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Wyoming is Almost Done
Written @ 12:00 MST | Friday 14-Jul-06 | Little America, WY

Last night, we went through downtown Cheyenne to get some pizza. Downtown itself is kinda cute, but a few blocks east is rather scruffy. The pizza was good though, and I also found a gas station, “Smoker Friendly Gasmart,” that had gas for a cheap-sounding $2.64 a gallon. It was a very redneck-type of place. We scurried back to the hotel with the pizza.

The dog had some pizza crusts and finally ate some kibble after three days. We then got some rest. I took a short swim, which was marred by swarms of mosquitoes and other unidentified insects and by a blond California woman in a straw cowboy hat who trotted into the pool area (which I had to myself before her arrival) with a Target shopping bag and plopped down onto a lounger and proceeded to have a loud and long cell phone conversation, complaining to the person on the other end about an encounter with some woman in Montana. The water felt good, however, and I did enjoy the swim.

After a nice night’s sleep, we got up at 06:30 and left the hotel at 07:56. Next stop: Salt Lake City, 433 miles away.

A short drive saw us flying through Laramie. I can’t ever see or think of that name without thinking of Matthew Shephard. On a fence somewhere close by, Matthew was pistol whipped and tied up and left to die. Has anything much changed since that evil day in 1998? Not really. Hate to be pessimistic, but another Matthew will happen. In fact, other Matthews happen with depressing regularity in this country. Most of them are just not as dramatic. And most of the homophobes who commit the crimes will try to get off on “gay panic” defenses.

With apologies to all my straight male friends, I’ve always been curious; why do most straight men go around thinking that gay guys want them so bad? I’ll grant you that there is a subcommunity in the gay world that chases unavailable straight men, but that’s hardly a norm. I think they need to relax. If I’m in a foxhole in Iraq and mortars are dropping in, the last thing in the world I’ll be thinking about is touching my foxhole mate’s butt. One of the most un-sexy places I’ve ever been was a locker room after a football game. For many of us gay boys, the locker room fantasy only works if there are well-built Falcon models populating the scene.

Meanwhile, back in Laramie, I doubt anything much has changed in the last eight years, the Laramie Project notwithstanding. We pass on through without stopping.

Salt Lake City is about 150 miles away. Mormon land presents a whole new set of conundrums and questions. I won’t be able to drive through the place without hearing the famous South Park song in my head: “Joseph Smith Dum Dum Dum Dum Dum.”

We’re beginning to see the snow-covered peaks of the Uinta Mountains in Utah to the south. The border is 59 miles away. I’ve been looking forward to seeing mountains again.

Written @ 13:10 MST | Friday 14-Jul-06 | Utah State Line

We just hit Mormon Land, although it was hard to tell, since the area was under construction and all the signs have disappeared. The Utah side is greener and more mountainous and that’s about the only way to tell. Plus the mile markers went from 3 to 191. Salt Lake City is 70 miles away, so we’ll be in the hotel room inside two hours, thank goodness.

Unca David is still doing all the driving. I drive around the cities we stop in hunting for dinner, but he handles the long distance stuff, freeing me to plan and create stuff for school. I’ve got a newsletter started, a calendar, lesson plans, syllabus, and first- and second-day student surveys already to go, for the most part.

Over Air America, we’re hearing the news that King George was asked in Germany about the situations in Beirut and Iran, he replied, “I thought you were gonna ask me about the pig.”


Back in Rawlins, WY, I was asleep when suddenly I was poked in the side of the face by a moist beagle nose. Before I was fully awake, Bayley had come over the center console and plopped himself in my lap. Talk about a rude awakening. He then proceeded to arrange himself comfortably on top of me, and that’s where he stayed. For 108 miles until we got to Rock Springs, our gas stop for the day.

You haven’t lived until you’ve traveled the worst (to me) stretch of Wyoming I-80 for 108 miles with a 55-pound snoring beagle lying across your body.

After our stop in Rock Springs, there was much garrumphing about having to get back in his spot so that I could use the laptop and get some work done.

We still have 723 miles left after Salt Lake City, and I’ll be danged if I’m gonna ride the whole way with a huge ox in my lap.

I’m so cruel to dogs.

Frank asked me last night if I missed Michigan. I said, “Who-igan?” Truth is, I miss the great friends we met in Michigan, but not the state. I miss the intellectual workout I got in class, but not the university. I miss the kids I taught and had fun with last year at Burns Park, but not the school system. I miss the trees and river, but not the roads and drivers. In October, I will miss the flaming reds, oranges and yellows of the trees, but in November I will not miss the freezing gray cold.

We’re heading into the Wasatch above Salt Lake City. It reminds me that at heart I am a southwestern boy. I love canyons and skies and scrub brush and tumbleweeds and high mountain passes and snow-capped peaks and varied landscapes.

I want my Michigan friends to move southwest with me. I’m grateful for a quality Michigan education. But I don’t really miss Michigan itself. Sorry.

Written @ 16:13 MST | Friday 14-Jul-06 | Salt Lake City, UT

We arrived just fine at the hotel at 14:45 MST. Checkin was quick and we got a second floor room. The best thing is the pool; indoors, very warm, accompanied by a hot tub. And when we got here, it was empty. I swam for almost an hour and had the place to myself. It was very, very lovely. Helped the joints a great deal.

It’s hot and dry here; the temp is 101, although Jeepy claims it’s 105. It doesn’t feel as bad as Oklahoma or Michigan because there’s almost no humidity. It’s still hot, though.

This evening’s agenda is about finding some dinner and then getting plenty of rest. The longest day of the trip is ahead of us: 518 miles across the Great Salt Desert and the entire state of Nevada to Reno. We’ve done this drive once before and it’s not the most fun thing to do on the planet.

But after tomorrow, there’s only 132 miles to Sacramento and then 72 miles to Brentwood and we’re done with the cross-country odyssey. We can’t wait to be reunited with Unca Frankie. Dogs are very exhausted and need to get home to their nice, new, huge back yard. Yay!

Later, y’all!