15 June 2009

Paleo Road Trip '09: Laramie

The state quarter for Wyoming is one of the simpler coins in the series: a bronco-riding cowboy and the motto 'The Equality State.' The slogan is a tip of the hat to Wyoming's status as the first state to allow women the vote, and while that's certainly something to be proud of, the cowboy is really the more accurate symbol of the state. Other states may lay a louder claim to the cowboy mythos, but nowhere in the country is the Wild West still as palpably alive as in Wyoming. It's one of my favorite things about the state; while I may disagree politically with your average Wyomingite (don't forget that this is the state that gave us Dick Cheney), but I appreciate genuineness, and there can be no doubt that the genuine frontier spirit is alive and well here. As one of Wyoming's more prominent cities, you might expect Laramie to be a microcosm of the still-Wild West. However, it's also the site of the state university and as such has a more cosmopolitan atmosphere than even Cheyenne, its much larger neighbor to the east. If I had any doubts that I would enjoy my brief visit to Laramie, they dissipated when I drove into town to find that the university hosts public radio stations playing both jazz and classical music (this puts it one solid step ahead of Eugene which, despite its somewhat pompous claims to cultural prominence, is a wasteland when it comes to jazz on the radio). Besides just having impeccable taste in music, Laramites enjoy one of the nicest and most architecturally unified campuses around, views of some of the more spectacular peaks of the Rockies, and a downtown full of old buildings and good restaurants. One of those restaurants is even vegetarian, but one really has to pity anyone who would voluntarily deprive themselves of some of the world's best beef straight from the source. Say what you will about cowboys, but they certainly know how to do steak right.

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