Whenever the topic of Rock Springs, Wyoming and the fact I have traveled there for business a few times comes up, it usually goes one of two ways.
In the first situation, when then person is unfamiliar with western Wyoming and has no idea where Rock Springs is, the reaction is “You went where?”. This was my thought prior to my first trip out there.
The second reaction is equally as brief and comes from people who are from Wyoming or are familiar with that part of the state. It usually follows something similar to, “You’re going there? I’m sorry.”
Rock Springs doesn’t have a huge airport or attract large music tours the way a city like Denver does. There aren’t huge suburbs of green manicured lawns (mandated to stay that way by Homeowner Association bylaws). It does have several hotels, a Super Wal-Mart, and almost any manner of breakfast, grill & bar, or fast food place you could desire, all located around one bustling interstate exit.
But something interesting happens if you get away from the interstate. It turns out there is a town and a history besides the oil field workers who eat greasy food and stay for months on end in a company paid-for hotel room. There is a historic downtown section. There are small independent shops. There are no fewer than 6 authentic Mexican restaurants (authentic in the fact that the proprietor probably grew up in Mexico).
I like where we live in the ‘burbs. Yes, the neighbors’ lawns do look nice, and we have maintained roads and trash doesn’t collect in the bushes, but we can also walk around and find our house floor plan in two other houses, and a popular floor plan occurs three times within site of our back deck.
But try to find a local bakery or restaurant or hardware store that you can’t find in every other suburb around the city or another city in a different state. Conformity seems to have its price, and that price is a little character.
So, I went walking around town with a camera while I was there.
I like new and modern, but there is something about old and forgotten that speaks to me. The hotel lobby isn’t so much a hotel anymore, but it looked like the lobby is still open as a bar. I think it has been a while, however, since any of those lights have lit up at night.
The picture of Club Millennium is actually the back entrance down a dirt alley. I walked down the back side of the buildings before I ever walked around to the front. It turned out that Club Millennium is a local gentleman’s establishment – maybe if I was being observant, the faded black sign that says “HOT BODIES” would have tipped me off. I’m not sure – I guess at the time maybe I thought it was an astronomy club talking about warm celestial worlds. Or something.
I’ve seen countless home decorating and remodeling shows on TLC and HGTV about making distressed and aged looking wood. I mean, Rhiannon has told me about them. Yeah, I’ve heard people put a lot of effort into making wood look old and aged. It turns out, if you are patient, there is a really easy way to make wood look old and faded – wait. A long time. Keep waiting. It will get there.
Rock Springs was founded as a coal mining town. It never was a cutting edge place. I don’t think it ever will be. I don’t think it wants to be. And that's ok.