Australia has often been touted as the land with the most dangerous creatures, both quantity- and quality-wise. And from what I have read and the pictures I have seen, I do believe it!
And yet, many people love Australia and call it home. The danger factor doesn’t seem to sway them too much. That being said, we have a fair number of Aussies who have moved to America, where it’s supposedly less deadly. Things like the Sydney Funnel Web Spider, the Box Jellyfish, crocodiles, snakes and more snakes, and sharks can all kill you in the Land Down Under. Just to name a few things. There are more…
It got me to thinking…where I live has perhaps fewer deadly creatures than the Land of Oz. But we do have some!
Like the massive and majestic Grizzly bear. Each year we hear of people, often hunters or guides, who end up on the wrong side of a grizz and sadly, get killed. The equally massive and equally majestic bison, which unfortunately also maims people who insist on getting too close, usually in Yellowstone. There have been at least 3 deaths attributed to bison in Yellowstone, according to this document – Bison goring injuries. Need I mention the rattlesnake, the mountain lion, or the gray wolf?
And then there is the land itself. It seems to be a bit resistant to people living here…I think of Buffalo and Sheridan, Wyoming, with their gorgeous mountain views. Yet the land itself is full of rocks leftover from glaciers. Tiny rocks, big rocks. Makes it hard to do much farming or ranching, ya know?
With the high prairie covering much of Wyoming and parts of Montana and South Dakota, it was well suited particularly for grazing animals – cattle, sheep, bison, elk, deer, and pronghorn antelope.
Yet, here we are. We live in a state with the lowest population. The latest figures I could find were 578,759 (although the recent census numbers have us a bit more, but those are not official as of the time of publishing). For good reason, as you will see. That’s roughly the same population as Washington DC! Even remote Alaska has more people than we do!
We cling tenaciously to the basins, the mountains and the prairie. Forging our existence in a wild land. To live here, you have to cultivate an appreciation for the wild. Be a little wild – which means – be independent and self-sufficient. Not care that the world around you tries to wipe you off the map…repeatedly.
The Native Americans who lived here for many generations learned the rhythms of this land and used it to their advantage. In this region, the tribes were often mobile and roamed free, instead of living in one place as tribes in other places in America had done. The land, seasons and animal life here are well suited to this type of nomadic lifestyle.
And then after the Louisiana Purchase was completed, the expedition of Lewis and Clark finished a few years later (and long before that, the Spanish Conquistador’s exploration from Mexico clear up to Canada), then followed the many pioneers who traversed this continent heading West in covered wagons, in search of a better life. Some indeed found a better life here – relief from the overcrowded cities to the East. Here there was land and space. Some found disease, poverty, wars and untimely death. But those that survived and stayed learned to love this hard land and accept it for what it is. And in return the land yielded it’s wild and untamed beauty to those who would appreciate it.
In our region, which spans the corners of three states, we did name a lot of our monuments and landmarks names that denote the wild nature of the landscape: Devil’s Tower, Devil’s Bathtub, the Badlands are just a few. And I know we aren’t the only state or region to have these sorts of features. America definitely has parts that are more prone to dangerous living…and I’m not talking about crime. Though we have that, too.
No…I think more of our brutal winters and the threat of hypothermia. Or gingerly driving on black ice, even into April and May. Then when long-awaited summer finally comes, we deal with occasional bouts of huge hail, tornadoes, wind shears and flash flooding.
And now, due to a mild winter with less snowpack than was ideal, we are in fire season that started as early as June, as has been experienced in much of the US this year and past years.
Newbies who move here from other states often have really nice things to say about Wyoming: “The people are so friendly!” or “The mountains are so pretty!” But then we inevitably hear “BUT THAT WIND!!!” or “BUT NO SHOPPING!!” as they are packing their boxes to head back home, which is a place with traffic jams, skyscrapers and multitudes of rules. That’s okay…Imma keep my wind and no shopping and open roads and wilderness all to myself!
I can’t help but view Wyoming is a special gift that I give to the ones who will really love her well – flaws and all.
“Well, that’s nice and sentimental”, you may say. “But the real question is – why do you want to live in a place that is always trying to kill you?”
Let me count the reasons!
- Less traffic
- Clean air
- Major energy producer
- Fewer people
- More wildlife to watch and enjoy
- Sunsets that look like paintings
- Stars so bright and close, it feels like you can touch them
- Bright sunshine for days and days (I mean, we ARE several thousand feet closer to the sun, after all)
- And in our particular state, friendlier laws and less restrictions
- Mountains, lakes, rivers and trails for outdoor activities
Oh, and it’s pretty 😊
Links to check out if you are interested in more –