On the Trail
Eastern Wyoming is an endless landscape of arid grassland dotted with the occasional antelope and constant invasion of oil companies, coal processing plants, and signs that read “blast area — stay clear of orange cloud”. Alongside these signs, historical markers note various cattle drive and settler paths, mythologized memories of cows, cowboys, and covered wagons that stole their way across this land.
The advent of barbed wire divided the open range, inspiring sentimental country songs lamenting the lost “golden age” of Western expansion. The dry, rolling grassland was roped and restrained by spools of wire and posts — compartmentalized, contained, and cast away. But in the Western mindset of “waste not, want not”, the discovery of shale once again brings people and employment to the area — a feast or famine lifestyle of long hours, big trucks, and cheap drugs. Jobs, people, money appear as a mirage in the desert, only to disappear at the crest of the next hill.
When every last bit of oil is squeezed, squelched, and squandered, the modular houses with lawns of dirt pack up and blow away on the wind and the diesel trucks rumble on to the next boom town beyond the sunset.