Observations about Wyoming from a Displaced Westerner

It is amazing what you can learn about your home state when you no longer live in it. After spending almost two academic years on the East Coast, I’ve definitely been able to see my home state out West in a different light. I still love it, but the distance has given me some interesting perspective. Here are some of the things I’ve learned about good old Wyoming while I’ve been gone.

Wyoming is known for more than just “cowboys and indians;” we are also known for Jackson Hole and Yellowstone.

Most Wyomingites think we are just known out East as the land of the Wild Wild West, where cowboys roam the plains on their horses. At least that’s what I thought. I was surprised to find out that we are also known internationally for Yellowstone National Park. I hadn’t thought about it, figuring our “Wild Wild” reputation would supersede any other considerations, but it turns out that many international students here know Wyoming for Yellowstone. We’re also quite famous for Jackson Hole. I’m asked often if Wyoming is like “Jackson Hole,” which I respond to with laughter. No, I say, Jackson Hole is nothing like the rest of Wyoming. But they get partial credit for at least remembering I’m from Wyoming and not Wisconsin (I get that a lot for some reason).

Almost no one dislikes the federal government as much as we do.

As a state, Wyoming is known to be pretty conservative. I hadn’t realized how much so until the other day when my Legal Studies professor pointed out that most states are totally okay with the federal government, and then made the joke that I probably had no idea what it was like to think that way, since I’m from Wyoming. I won’t generalize political beliefs to all Wyomingites, but I genuinely had no idea that we have a unique distaste for federal government. I had always assumed everyone  didn’t like the federal government!

Getting to see the stars at night is a blessing, not a given.

When I was working this summer, one of the students I was working with was a New Yorker. In a conversation about my home state, he said, “I’d like to go out there sometime. I’d like to see the starts at night.” I hadn’t realized until I moved out East that seeing the stars at night is a rarity because of light pollution. Back in Wyoming, you can see them every night. I think of laying on the top of our trailer during camping trips to the lake and looking at the stars, and I realize that’s an experience some may never get to have. It’s a unique feature of living somewhere less populated.

Wyomingites get married young.

I have friends out here from both various US states and different countries, and it seems that when it comes to marriage, we are years ahead of the pack. As a college student, I have both married friends and friends who are soon to be married, which surprises many of my friends here in the East. I find it an interesting difference. I guess Wyomingites just know what they want!

Pickup trucks aren’t really a thing elsewhere.

Outside of areas that are more sparsely populated, have outdoorsey things, or have agriculture or other big industry, pickup trucks aren’t owned as much by normal consumers. My friends here think it’s funny that my family even owns a pickup truck, calling it a truly “Wyoming” thing to own one. Some of my international friends don’t see them on the streets at all in their home countries. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have grown up never seeing one. What else would have filled the “Cowboy Lot” at my high school? …And I guess that probably answers my question.

You can’t beat Western hospitality.

It’s always been said that people are just friendlier out West, and I’ve found that to be absolutely true, but not for the reasons you may think. People in the West often think that Easterners are cold and unfriendly, but it’s only due to the volume of people they see daily. Back in Wyoming, it’s completely normal to smile at passersby, to wave at people on two lane roads from your car, and to have a ten minute chat with the checkout lady at the grocery store. But here, if you were exercise that amount of kindness every time you encountered another person, you’d be both physically and mentally exhausted, and you’d never get anywhere you needed to go. Regardless of the reason, there is something about living out West and having grown up in such a friendly place that I loved – and still love.

It’s been an adventure living out East, but there’s no place like home. It’s only in Wyoming that I can ride around in a pickup truck like something straight out of a country song, see the stars at night, and know everyone that works at my local coffee shop. It’s also the only place where you can listen to the song “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” and some people will nod along because they really do think your tractor is sexy.


Inspired by the WordPress prompt “West End Girls.”

Check out some other interpretations of the prompt here:
Big City Girl | Rose-tinted Rambles
Saudi Arabia Was Beautiful But I’m Happy It’s Not My Home, Anymore | Kosher Adobo
Daily Prompt: West End Girls | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss
My Abrupt Descent Into the Cesspit of Humanity | Thinking Diagonally
CATS! Daily Prompt | alienorajt