"They were off to the bars, for a lack of a plan / Racing the stars to the lights of Cheyenne." — James McMurtry, "Lights of Cheyenne," as recorded at the Zephyr Club in Aught-Three.---
Many, many years ago, a friend and I got lost in Wyoming on our way to Chicago and wound up in South Dakota. That's not a joke. There were plenty of reasons. For one, Wyoming did not have any open container prohibitions, allowing us to cross the state half-sloshed. At least, that is, until "Chocolate Thunder"—my 1986 Buick LeBaron that topped out around 60 mph—blew two tires in a construction zone outside of Laramie. At 4 a.m. So, we wound up in a Denny's, where a waiter flirted with us while we tried to maintain the alcohol level necessary to make it out of the state. We also stared at a map, and realized that by heading north, we could take a short detour to Mt. Rushmore. However, one of the worst things about Wyoming is that their map is always crowded onto one page in an atlas, so the scale is something like 5,000 miles per inch, so our short detour lasted about 12 hours. Thank God for the lack of open container laws.
My point? During that trip, I learned first-hand that Wyoming has a hell of a lot of wide-open and not-very-scenic land. They also have a lot of untapped energy sources, from natural gas to wind (lots of wind) to geothermal. They also love their energy development, and unlike Utah, is aggressively pursuing alternative energy.
You know what they're discovering? So-called green energy is not always so green. The online news site, New West, has published two stories very recently detailing these challenges. First, wind development has basically been prohibited in 3/4 of the state because of the sage grouse, a threatened bird that actually needs those seemingly useless, empty sagebrush chocked lands. Second, geothermal sources are abundant but tapping them involves many of the same impacts as extracting fossil fuels.
Yeah, I know. Not local. Whatever. They're incredibly interesting articles, especially for all of you hippie-beatniks who read City Weekly and crow about the wonders of renewable energy. In the end, the only real answer for our energy problems is for each of us to reduce our personal use. For me, that means that next time, I will ride a horse across Wyoming.
Now, while I ride my horse, here's some other lonely places that are best traveled with booze in hand (or saddle, as the case may be):
Utah's West Desert: A day after a court gave new life to the Goshute nuke waste dump, Utah's federal delegation cried foul and unanimously opposed it. No word from candidates like Mike Lee, however. Maybe I should just call him, instead of mouthing off from the passenger seat.
Rep. Jim Matheson's office: Whatever the reason -- health-care, anyone? -- Matheson has no idea why his candidate for the U.S. Attorney was not appointed and why the administration is now looking at a Republican, Scott Burns. Poor Jim, nobody loves him. Listen, pal, I hear that the House offices are great places for gin and tonics. I'll make you the same offer I made Allyson Gamble yesterday: You open the doors, I'll bring the gin, tonic and lime. Hell, I'll even bring ice and glasses.
New Hampshire, for Sarah Palin: Yeah! A 2012 poll! Sarah Palin is fifth. Mitt Romney is first.
Salt Lake City, for Republicans: Steve Harmsen, an experienced pol cum sacrificial lamb, is running a race that he expects to lose against Arlyn Bradshaw for the Salt Lake County Council.
Gov. Herbert's office: Well, it's not lonely, but people aren't happy, and they're flooding him with e-mails criticizing his handling of "The List." (Nice job, btw, to Gehrke at the Tribune for having the foresight to GRAMA these e-mails.) Essentially, most seem to want to employees who released private information rewarded, not fired. Which makes sense, in a "I like to drive across Wyoming sober" kind of way.
Gov. Herbert's campaign: So far, it's non-existent, and the workers have plenty of time on their hands to compile 100 articles that somehow prove he should be re-elected. At some point, I may start dissecting these, but I've got Wyoming on my breath. So, go read this at The Side Track blog.
Arizona: It's lonely because everyone with any sympathy or a tan is fleeing. Well, they were given a little time because a federal judge put the temporary kibosh on the most controversial parts of their immigration law.
Bars: They're going to be lonely because everyone will have to have their licenses scanned. Or, so some would like to believe. Me, my license is expired, so I have to use a passport, which requires bartenders to fill out a piece of paper. It feels like private clubs all over again. But guess what? The former DABC director doesn't like the idea of scanning everyone, not just those without gray hair, sagging boobs, paunch bellies or balding foreheads.
The Open Container is published every week day, ideally. Weekends and vacations are at the whim of myself.