The Hundredth Meridian

Never the Twain Shall Meet

Maps show Wyoming beginning in the western Black Hills at its northeastern corner and east of the Laramie Mountains at the southeastern one.  Yet the beginning of a thing (or, for that matter, its end) is rarely so simple.  To me, it is obvious that Wyoming begins on the western slope of the Snowy Range in the Medicine Bow Mountains, just west of the Continental Divide and 120 miles from the Wyoming-Nebraska line.  Coasting down Highway 130 from Libby Flats and Lake Marie, you can see, feel, and smell the transition as the road curves past Ryan Park and breaks out into sagebrush foothills with a view to the broad mesas beyond the wide valley of the North Platte River.  Here, the high desert country commences, and with it the blue sky and white sun, cumulus clouds, clay bluffs, and sage smell that mean western Wyoming, vintage Wyoming—the real Wyoming—for me.  It is no mystery why Saratoga should please me: I lived 20 years, among the best of my life, in western Wyoming.  Why my wife, a cosmopolitan girl from Pelham, New York, should be eager to move from metropolitan Laramie to a hamlet of 1,500 people is another story.

“I like Saratoga,” Maureen insisted.  “It feels good to me, and the country’s the most beautiful I’ve seen anywhere in Wyoming.”

“But there’s only one good restaurant.  And two fair ones.”

“That’s...

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