Evanston Wyoming: For as long as I can remember this has been the place to buy liquor, kegs, and fireworks.
Evanston, similar to her sister city on the border of Utah and Nevada, Wendover–is where Utahns go to sin.
Or so was the reputation I heard when I was growing up. I’ve never bothered spending time here; I’ve only filled my gas tank at truck stops a few times. And of course I’ve been on keg runs and fireworks buying sprees.
Today we came to begin the first of our four-day adventure through scenic, expansive beautiful Wyoming.
Wyoming is incredibly scenic even outside of Jackson and Yellowstone although, not as many visitors stop here. I was in Southeastern Wyoming 22 years ago selling steaks door-to-door and I fell in love with this place, the people, the scenery and the overall vibe. Back then I traded steaks for pine nuts and for pocket knives with buck antler handles.
Occasionally I’m asked how I decided to travel to small towns and write about interesting people.
I learned to love rural areas where there are more livestock than people, where cats and dogs are counted in population counts, from selling meat to strangers while listening to their stories. Utah and the West have become quite tame, easternized and civilized. In Wyoming, one of the most unpopulated states in the U.S., the West is still quite wild. They count just 584,000 souls. (And we aren’t sure how many towns are counting their cats and dogs.)
We decided to make this our July road trip because I wanted my wife to see and know that the world is actually not overpopulated. There is plenty of space. Just visit places like Wyoming and she can see it for herself: Vast expanses of land, good land, for miles and miles.
Evanston’s Main Street in July 2016
On this, my first visit to Evanston we travel south from the freeway exit chain stores and find a quaint flag-lined Main Street with well-kept flower pots lining the street; a brewery serving great beer; a bookstore and coffee shop called Serendipity, which offers sandwiches on homemade bread, and most items on their menu are homemade. A real Main Street–no chain stores. A local drug store, a local deli.
I was amazed to find this in the same place where we used to go to buy our beer in which we would artfully master the skill of keg stands. But there was more, such as the last surviving roundhouse in the United States, which has been restored. A roundhouse was used to service locomotives back in the day. The museum was closed, but it was a magnificent building, which we will return to see another time.
We ate a veggie-hummus wrap at Serendipity that was fresh and delicious, just as Kane, the owner, who, besides baking bread, makes caramels and cornbread fresh everyday with her daughter, Candy, said it would be. We strolled down the street where we found Suds Brothers brewery and I tried their SOB (South of the Border) beer, which they described as similar to Corona. It was excellent with a light finish, while offering a much more complex and nuanced flavor profile than Corona. It turns out there is a brewfest here on July 23rd, which will feature beers from Bohemian, Uinta, Roosters and Shades of Pale.
Kane, the owner of Serendipity, talked up the town quite a bit. I thought it endearing that she took so much pride, but I almost left it at that and we were ready to move on. But she said we needed to see the Bear River recreation area.
We walked around the large park and outdoor fitness area, and I realized I’ve never been to a small town that had such a well-kept park. This park and the many amenities, including outdoor fitness stations and plenty of picnic areas, is our sin tax dollar well at work. While there were dozens of people, there was not a single misplaced piece of trash.
Around every corner kids and adults were picnicking and swimming. I have acquired the belief that there is no swimming pool or waterpark that compares to swimming in a clean river or lake. I had to get in with my dogs.
Joey, my Irish setter, who is also my shadow, loves water but doesn’t like to swim. He jumped in with me and we floated a rapid current in the middle. We then swam out of the current and repeated it over and over. The river and the setting reminded me of a little town in Europe called Sanski. It is the town my wife is from in Bosnia. I didn’t know anything like this existed here in the U.S.; a place where people relax in the sun and the water with no entry fee required. Evanston is a hidden gem. We will be back for the brewfest later in the month.
Next stop: Kemmerer.