Let’s face it: every state has its unique eccentricities that only the natives can relate to. When visitors from outside your state witness them, it’s always an awkward moment. Wyoming is no exception. We have a collection of distinctive foibles and quirks that other Wyomingites completely understand but that have caused each of us to feel ill at ease when out-of-staters are subjected to them. Here are a dozen that occur on a regular basis.
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1. Yes, we have electricity and indoor plumbing.
True, Wyoming is the closest thing left to the Wild West, and we do still have quite a bit of untamed territory. We aren't without modern comforts and conveniences, however, so there's always some weirdness when someone from back East comments on how surprised they are that we have electricity and don't use outdoor privies. Heck, we even have the internet and department stores.
2. When you ask for directions, you'll get a lot of landmarks.
There are a lot of wide-open spaces here in Wyoming, and we're used to giving directions based on things we know will be seen along the way. It's usually not until we're met with a blank stare when instructing someone to "go up the road a piece at the end of town and turn on the first dirt lane after the red barn," that we realize we're not talking to a local.
3. It's hard to elegantly meld summer and winter wardrobes.
The thing about living in Wyoming is that the seasons don't gracefully transition from one to the other. You might wake up to freezing temperatures with a skiff of snow on the ground and have gorgeous sunny skies and 70 to 80 degree weather by the afternoon. That means frequently dressing for more than one season at a time, layering sweaters and parkas over shorts and a tank top.
4. Annoyance with the greenies.
We're used to seeing license plates from all over the country visiting Wyoming, but the ones from the Green Mountain State tend to inspire a bit of irritation. It seems we take exception with Colorado "greenies" more than with visitors from other states over almost any topic from political viewpoints to their effect on property values. They've got access to the Rocky Mountains at home; maybe it's just hard to understand why they'd want to vacation in our neck of the woods.
5. Practically everyone is packin'.
It's understandable that visitors to the Cowboy State are taken aback when they see how many Wyomingites are armed. If they'd checked with the NRA before coming, they'd know that permits aren't required for possessing handguns, shotguns, or rifles and that the Second Amendment is taken seriously. Wyoming supports the right of law abiding citizens to carry a handgun openly.
6. The door's open.
We won't necessarily leave the keys in the lock for you, but we also don't stress out over making sure doors get bolted. Part of it is because there's still a neighborly, small-town mentality in Wyoming. Plus, if an intruder does come in, see number five above.
7. Horses are still a common sight in town.
We do take advantage of modern transportation, but Wyomingites still get around on horses - more than you'd think. When we have an errand to tend to, it's just as common as not to saddle up and ride into town.
8. There are more types of meat here than beef.
There are over 600 species of wildlife in Wyoming and, while we don't eat them all, you'll see quite a few on menus across the state. From elk steaks to buffalo burgers to venison bratwurst, you'll have more to choose from than beef for dinner.
9. Boots and hats go with any attire.
Wherever you go in Wyoming, you'll recognize the locals because they accessorize almost any outfit with cowboy boots and a hat. Plus, ours are usually well-worn rather than looking like we just pulled them out of the box.
10. We don't sweat the supervolcano.
Wyoming owes most of its natural beauty and grandeur to the Yellowstone Caldera, a supervolcano located in the northwest corner of the state. Over the last 2 million years or so, it's erupted three times, sculpting mountains, carving out canyons, and forming lakes. It can be credited with the numerous hot springs found all over the state as well as the features that attract visitors to Yellowstone National Park each year, such as the Paint Pots and Old Faithful. Experts have been saying for years that it could erupt again any time, but we're not worried. It's a risk we're willing to take to live in such a magnificent state.
11. Don't call a Wyoming woman "the little lady."
Wyoming has a history of strong women that goes way back to before the state was even admitted to the union. In 1870, Esther Morris was elected the first female justice of the peace in the country, and in 1889, Wyoming became the first state in which women had the right to vote. Then, when Nellie Tayloe Ross ran for office in the 1920s, Wyoming became the first state to elect a woman as governor.
12. We love our jackalopes.
You might encounter a stuffed or mounted jackalope anywhere in the western United States, but Wyoming is the first place one was ever seen. Visitors to the state may doubt that hares with horns are real. We won't debate it with you, but don't disrespect our cultural heritage.
Truthfully, there is enough behavior in Wyoming that is normal to us but odd to outsiders that we should probably publish a guide for visitors. What awkward moments have you experienced with a Wyomingite?