Saturday, November 06, 2010

The Move West, Day 4 Continued: Return to Route 80

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After buying Rocky Mountain National Park souvenirs, we drove north toward I-80 and our next state, Wyoming. Then we headed back north, back to I-80, and to Wyoming. There were two different ways we could have taken. The fastest, most direct route would have been to take US-287 straight north to Laramie; the way that we took, ignoring the advice of Google Maps and Elsa (my GPS), was I-25 to Cheyenne. I think we thought we'd see something cool in Cheyenne. All we took the time to see was I-80.

Had we gone straight to Laramie, we would have driven through MBF's hometown and the part of the state that would, a year later, change my mind about Colorado. I could be wrong (I think I'm thinking of highway 14, not 287), but I think we would have had a more scenic, not to mention 25 miles shorter, drive to Laramie.

But had we taken that shorter way to Laramie, we would have missed out on this rainbow.

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We would have missed out on these clouds.

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And we would have missed out on this!

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Buford, Wyoming is, at eight thousand feet above sea level, the highest community on I-80. Its Wikipedia page shows its population as two, which is one more than was there when we stopped at its convenience store, hoping to find a RoomSavers coupon book.

The smaller signs say, "Buford Wyoming/Est 1866," "Nation's Smallest Town/Zip Code 82052," "Highest Town Between NYC & San Francisco on I-80." The town appeared to consist only of this sign, the house behind it, and the convenience store just visible by what appears to be a gas station pricing sign. I guess I framed this shot so strangely to capture Buford's only two buildings.

We imagined that the convenience store, which closed just before we arrived, was staffed by one old man who also lived in the house next to it. When Meg saw that its population was formerly two, not one, she exclaimed, "Oh no! What if that was the old man's wife, and she died?" We were saddened by our invented story.

As an update, while looking for photos of the town, I found this Flickr photo of the old sign for Buford where the population is double what it was in 2009. Scroll down the comments, and you'll see a note from one of the 2 who resided in Buford when that picture was taken, the one who left, cutting the town's population in half, before I came and took that picture of the sign. According to his Flickr comment, he moved to the very place I was headed when I passed through his hometown of Buford: Portland, Oregon.

From Buford, we continued driving to Laramie. In Laramie, we were delighted to find an attractive college town. Unlike Denver, in this city, traffic was lacking and parking was abundant. We stopped for dinner at a pizza place recommended by Let's Go. I liked the food and the atmosphere. At a nearby table, three college students, all dressed (by my standards) fashionably, discussed some girl drama in which one or both or all three of them were ensnared. They spoke not loudly, but audibly, and they used real, full names. It made me think of my early college years, in which such drama was so distressing that the imprudence of discussing it in public was overshadowed by my dismay.

I liked Laramie and was reluctant to leave. But Portland was waiting for me, two days and one thousand miles away. We left Laramie and continued west, stopping for the night in Rawlins. The next day would bring many more miles of driving, two more full states, our last full day on the road, and a brief glimpse of Oregon.

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1 comment:

Ellen said...

these are some awesome photos but especially the first...makes me want to go on an american style road trip.