New Orleans In the up and down saga of getting the truck out of Laramie, my buddies at Laramie Time Company (big ups to Troy Trujillo!) managed to square me away and out of Wyoming on Monday evening around 6 PM. I’ve rarely seen a more welcome sight than the sun shining in pockets through the rain between Laramie and Cheyenne on the rocks of the national monument.
Having just driven more than 3000 miles between New Orleans and the heart of the west (Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Texas, and even Kansas), if you judge by the bulletin boards in the arid heartland of the country there are only two real issues: meth abuse and abortion with abortion a long 2nd place away. In some small towns in Wyoming and Montana it would seem like the old Burma-Shave advertisements where one sign followed another with a message because there would be one billboard after another a couple of blocks later each featuring a more horrid picture with the essential message that if you try methamphetamine, or meth as it’s more popularly known, even once, then ka-bam, you’re hooked! The billboards were graphic. A youngish looking girl would have virtually no teeth. An older woman beaten badly would be pictured with the slogan that essentially said, “I’d never hurt my mother” unless she gets between me and my meth. Lives wrecked and ruined. The campaign was so ubiquitous and effective that when I would finally see one of the “fetus” billboards paid for by “friendsofjesuschrist.com” or some such, I would assume the grotesque pictures were another anti-meth advertisement. The problem is pernicious, so hopefully these billboards have some impact (I know they convinced me!), but they are so over the top that you wonder if people just drive by after a while.
The real drug Mecca seemed to be Montana where a medical marijuana measure was approved last year with loose to non-existent restrictions on residency, and the headlines were lurid with reports of how many folks had applied to get access to marijuana legally (over 40,000 when I passed through!) claiming some kind of hookup for a Montana connection. The math is interesting. If almost 5% of the Montana population needs marijuana for medicinal purposes, there is definitely an epidemic of some kind of historic purposes afoot under the big sky.
Drugs behind every tumbleweed and ponderosa pine definitely are new phenomena. Driving through the cowboy west, I started having a picture implanted in my mind of a cowboy holding a joint pursed tightly in his lips between his missing teeth.