Wyoming gave us chapped lips, black lungs, and a stern disbelief that the state will ever recover from the ravenous oil and gravel interests that have descended upon it like vultures on weeks-old roadkill. Remember that this is a state that has elected Dick Cheney innumerable times—the man never got kicked out of office, just eventually promoted (dubiously ‘elected’) to the position of Vice President of the country in the dreaded 2000 elections.
Wyomingans didn’t like us. As soon as we crossed the state line it seems that smiles turned upside down, the air thickened and became visible, and the land became more desolate and hateful than the desert that the Jews wandered around for near a half-century. The gas station folks I saw didn’t smirk at our car; they were too busy bickering with one another about whether they were going to visit McDonald’s, Burger King, or just buy the gas station pizza, cadaverous and stagnant under the convenience store heat lamps. There were cracks and holes in their roads and their faces. I understand now why this place is referred to as “The Badlands,” (because they are bad).
Rapid City, South Dakota is, by contrast, a land fit enough for any god—a beautiful land once you leave the buffer zone of its border with Wyoming. When we reached Rapid City last night, we had to “wash off Wyoming” before we felt comfortable touching the beds in our hotel room.