The women came off the plane wearing cowboy hats, the Tetons towering behind the boarding stairs. The airport - glossy dark wood, small in stature, big in statement.
The waterfalls rushed with yesterday’s rain on our muddy walk to Taggart Lake. In the quiet storm we prayed for the sun, to not get lost, that our low conversation might dissuade any nearby bear.
At the cowboy cafe, sweet young teenagers with oddly international accents served us buffalo burgers and boysenberry pie. The table nearby spoke of rodeos, of bikini waxes, of third-generation residents of Dubois.
“What do people do around here?” We asked The indian boy with earrings working the front desk at our lonely riverton motel. “Meth,” he said, then laughed, bemused.
Thermopolis is a strange town with few things to do and even fewer people - despite said indian boy saying it was the place to be. We bathed off the boat ramp — perhaps bathed is a strong word— in the healing waters of the hot springs, where schools of black fish ostensibly thrived. Two grown men in fat little boys bodies lay face down, shirtless, on the sidewalk to dry, with sunglasses, full wet jeans, and a belt buckle as big as his head. Apparently thermopolis has a full dinosaur skeleton, but we didn’t see it.
A mexican son with a sweet smile served us enchiladas, queso “cheese dip” and chili verde at a strange smelling family run restaurant in buffalo. He wore cross earrings under his long hair and a bleach dyed metallica hoodie. we discussed the hipness of nowhere teens
On the roAd we listen to a sensationalized nyt podcast about a murdered laramie girl. Her father died in the town where we ate enchiladas. Across the stark wyoming landscape, we listen intently to the details of this grisly murder, mutually agreeing to pause when the light starts to wane.
At mt rushmore, no one knows which presidents are carved into the mountain, especially not the riders of the 83rd annual sturgis motorcylcle rally. A woman to our left insists the third one is hamilton. I venture fdr.
The pink jagged spires of the badlands, serrated, layered, jut out of the prairie like harbingers of hell. Their crevasses tendril-like drag oxygen and light to their bottoms, where we can only guess what kinds of creatures dwell. Under cover of clouds we are spared from their dry heat, punishing and desolate, ominous and old.
The missouri river glows pink from the sunset as we gaze upon the chamberlain bridge from a nearby rooftop, stuffing ourselves with cheesy breadsticks, alfredo. We talk about how we romanticized a small town high school, the classic adolescent experience, but no one that seems to actually have experiences that looks back on it fondly, they always yearned to get out…
082623many years later, I return to my pursuit of being the modern day Herb Caen. I sip a hot cappuccino at breck's, after a failed attempt at getting a croissant at Arsicault – flouted by the incomprehensibly long line, which I, living a mere 15 minute walk away, refuse to wait in on principle.
the clientele is quintessentially San Francisco – enough to make me wonder why I stopped turning my eyes outward, when the populace is so ripe for caricature, or at least observation.
a line has formed outside breck's while my head is down, yet nowhere near as considerable as next door.
girls in San Francisco only carry tote bags – a fact that makes me wince with superiority, carrying a practical little black bag from the military surplus store (that they also sell at Urban Outfitters in a variety of colors, to match your outfit.)
a girl with short hair wears Birkenstock clogs (with a buckle, so – not like mine) and four people in a row wear white sneakers. the young people these days have moved towards baggy hoodies and even baggier pants – or else those Instagram leggings with the slit in them. they wear resin clips in their hair with a checkerboard pattern, either $10 a pop or from SheIn in bulk.
all the rosé glitters a sickly amber in the light. how the old masters used to start drinking at 11 in the morning! it was almost too much to get myself here to have a cup of coffee. perhaps youth now is fragile – trading a hard seltzer for a highball, a passive aggressive micro-aggression for a knuckle to the face.
"iced oat milk latte?" two girls repeat till it loses meaning, as another struggles to locate her chagaccino.