Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Road Trip, Part 12

What really boggles the mind on a road trip like this one is how vacant much of this country is. Along most of Interstate 80 in Wyoming, there is no speed limit, only signs that ask motorists to drive safely. So, you set your cruise control at 80 or so, and speed through the moonscape, hoping that you’ll catch a glimpse of another vehicle every 20 minutes or so, just to break the monotony.
Eventually, you come to Rawlins, population 8,538. For Wyoming, that's a pretty good-sized city. It came to be that way because it once had a prison and a mining industry. The prison is closed, but the mines are not, and being situated on I-80 has helped it, too.

Most of the people in Carbon County live in Rawlins. The entire population of the county is only 15,639, and the county is huge - 7,991 square miles. That means there are slightly fewer than two people per square mile. By contrast, Washington County's population density is 240 people per square mile.

We spent the night in Rawlins at the Ferris Mansion B&B (above), run by two sisters that brought “Arsenic and Old Lace” to mind. The bedrooms were kitschy Victorian, the downstairs featured a display of the sisters’ large, antique toaster collection. We sat in our rockers, draped with doilies, and relaxed for a while. I drank a liter bottle of Fat Tire beer that I’d been hauling around in the cooler since Denver. Then we went downstairs to ask the sisters where we might find someplace to eat. They were watching the Rawlins town council meeting – live – on television.
“There’s only one restaurant in town, “ Janice Lubbers said. “But you’re going to like it.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The only time that I drove through Wyoming (1977 or so) I can remember thinking about population density and that the people who were concerned about over-population should see Wyoming. I wonder if it has become as homogenous as what I've seen, since then, of the rest of the Country. Hopefully there are no cookie-cutter motels or signs of urban sprawl in the Wind River Gorge.