Laramie, Wyoming: Next Time I’ll Be Driving a Truck
Travel and design are two of my favorite things. I recently went on an incredible journey across the United States. I visited 19 states and drove 9000 miles (actually 8999) in a month. Along the way, I had a lot of time to think especially while driving through places like Eastern Colorado and Western Kansas. My son used to travel through those states when he was playing sports in college in Boulder. He aptly described Eastern Colorado “as more Kansas than Kansas” and he added that “the only thing to do in Eastern Colorado and Western Kansas is to think.” He was right.
I’m not sure if I began to flesh out the travel-design blog series while driving across the Great Plains but it was definitely somewhere between Seattle and Arkansas.
There were so many things that struck me as interesting and inspired me on my journey. One of the things that struck me was how many Americans drive pick-up trucks. And one of the things that inspired me was the amount of amazing public art especially outdoor murals in small cities and towns across the United States. Laramie, Wyoming really stands out for me, both in the mural and truck categories.
Laramie is a small city with a population of around 31,000. I learned when I was there that it was also where the first woman to vote in the United States cast her ballot. In 1869, Wyoming became the first state or territory to give women the right to vote. I learned this at the beautiful Wyoming Women’s History House on 2nd Street in Laramie.
In addition to this treasure of a little museum, I found Laramie to be quite endearing with its iconic Western downtown and charming small town mom and pop shops. The outdoor murals were plentiful and beautiful showcasing Native American history and culture as well as nature, outdoor recreation and Western themes. I was intrigued by a particular mural that featured a woman holding a flower in each hand and including the phrase “De Aqui De Alla”, which roughly translates from Spanish to “from here and there”. In addition to the beauty and unique nature of the mural, the colors…teal, turquoise, burnt orange and black were stunning under the vast Wyoming sky. I always gravitate towards teal and turquoise but the combination with black and orange was inspiring.
As I learned, almost everything in Laramie is closed on Sundays (apparently for church and football). Lucky for me, a fabulous store called The Bent and Rusty was open. They bill themselves as America’s Largest Craftsman Co-Op where, according to their website, they “create, repurpose, and remake objects, pieces and furnishings that may be the future history we work to document”. I wandered around in there for over an hour trying to figure out how I could incorporate this fabulous western décor into my beachy-ish Seattle home. The place was packed with reclaimed materials, both human-made and natural, crafted into beautiful art and décor. In a back corner I came upon a collection of old doors that was swoon-worthy and had me imagining driving the rest of the way across the country with one of those strapped to the roof of my car.
I restrained myself and settled on purchasing two lovely glass liquor decanters, one etched with an image of a cowboy riding a bucking bronco and the other with a buffalo head. I love them and they are now filled with artisanal Reposado and coffee liquor I picked up at the Pottery Pub in Santa Fe, New Mexico (more on that in a later post).
Laramie and all of Wyoming was breathtaking. I drove through a rain and electrical storm that I was watching for many, many miles before we reached each other. The vastness of the landscape and the skies in that part of the country are incredible; words can’t do it justice. Also, I paid $3.30/gallon for gas in Wyoming, as compared to over $7/gallon in a couple of places in California. Yee-haw!
Laramie is the gem of the high plains and The Bent and Rusty is a western décor dream. Someday I’ll have a reason to come back to shop there again and when I do, I’ll bring a truck.