The other day a friend of mine said that I looked like I needed a three-day nap. It was Tuesday afternoon and I’d just gotten back from a four-day trip to Jackson Hole and Phoenix. I tallied maybe 18 hours of sleep in four days that included 16 hours in a car and six hours on planes. Shortly after the comments were made about my deathly appearance, I was back in the car for an hour-and-a-half drive for a portrait shoot, followed by another hour-and-a-half to the University of Wyoming before driving back to Casper late that night.
A quick glance at my calendar tells me that of the 52 days in 2014, I’ve spent 24 of them on the road.
It’s been endless travel since I moved west, and though it’s exhausting, it’s a big part of the reason I chased after this job at a newspaper that covers the entire wide-open state of Wyoming. It’s not the kind of boredom-induced exhaustion that used to send me to bed after eight hours on the desk or in class back in Indiana. It’s the exhaustion that you don’t even have the time or patience to notice until your body starts shaking or you start dozing off out of absolutely necessity. There’s no time for sleep out here.
My friends back home probably wouldn’t know me anymore. I was the king of naps. The sultan of sleep. The mayor of Drowsytown. Some days I’d waste away under the covers, thinking about nothing at all just because I thought there was nothing to do. The move west prompted the most drastic lifestyle change I’ve ever experienced.
It’s the excitement of exploration and wide-open expanses in a state where just about half of the land is federally-owned. The outdoor opportunities are endless, and for a kid who grew up seeking out any opportunity to retreat from the wretched strip mall Mecca that I called home, Wyoming and much of the American West is as close to heaven on earth as you can get.
What I used to spend on beer and dining out, I now save for gas, airline tickets and outdoor gear. It feels good to find your place. Now I just need to find some time to get my head on straight.
Until then, here’s a mess of pictures made for work and play as the new year hit. Thanks for having a look.
The only Gap store in the entire state of Wyoming opens today right here in Casper. I’m still having nightmares from the drove of naked, headless baby mannequins.
“We have everything we need. The wilderness is unfolding in front of us.”
A little over a year ago I was sitting in the Fine Arts Library at Dartmouth College flipping through an Ansel Adams monograph, pining for another dose of the American West over his vast collection of photographs. I sat looking at Tetons and Snake River for what seemed like hours. A year ago, I never thought I’d have the chance to see that sight with my own eyes. To stand where Adams stood and watch the sun drape over Grand Teton for the first time that day was truly extraordinary.