Today we drove through Nevada, Arizona, and Utah and got as far as Salt Lake for the night. This is the third time in four years that I've made this trip to Wyoming and each time I'm struck by how un-wild, and un-western the trip seems. I should clarify--when I say wild, I really mean conservative--I expected to see a lot of political propaganda billboards, gosh darn, even bumper stickers, proclaiming this solidly McCain country. Nope. I only saw two political billboards between Las Vegas and Salt Lake --both just outside of Salt Lake. (One was for a Republican who had halted torture of puppies--could he do that for the guys held at Guantanamo? The other was for the Utah Republican Party--the "ican" party. Hmmm . . . ) There was nary a bumper sticker in sight all day. I'm pressed to say I saw even two, but I must have.
In truth, my interactions with folks is limited to gas stations, diners, and restaurants. But still, I am thinking that it's time to redefine the way that we think of these states and the people who live here. They are listening to country music, yes, but also hip hop, Spanish language stations and I even got the BBC news at one point. They are not impressed by --and don't gawk at--the brown girl with the big bright eyes rolling up in her big car in their small towns.
But still, how does this part of the country identify? I got a clue when we asked a convenience store clerk: how far until the next medium-sized town before Salt Lake?
Is this a medium-sized town? she asked.
Well, yes, we guess so.
Well,the next town that has a Wal-Mart is about a half hour past Beaver. That's about two-and-a-half hours from here.
Of course, this is Wal-Mart country. That's how people identify--which Wal-Mart is closest. Wal-Mart is what makes a place a place. Again, hmm . . .
But also, let me just say, I bought the jazziest Mickey Mouse pjs at Wal-Mart today for $15 bucks. I too was feeling Wal-Mart.