Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. We wrap our tour with a visit the Wyoming, otherwise known as the Cowboy State or Equality State. Which one fits best? Let’s find out:
Motto: “Equal Rights” – Yeah, that’s probably a good thing!
Food: Perhaps Wyoming’s biggest local chain is Taco John’s, a fast food Mexican joint founded in Cheyenne in 1969. Originating as a taco stand by John Turner, the business specializes in West-Mex dishes and has expanded to over 400 locations across 27 states. Their most notable dish is Potato Olés, which is deep-fried potato nuggets in a secret blend of spices.
Drink: Wyomingites are pretty proud of inventing the Sloshie, which is a boozy slushie, for those not in the know. It’s particularly popular in Jackson Hole, where it can be found everywhere from liquor and convenient stores to ski resorts. Flavours consist of anything a drinker can dream of. Additionally, Wyoming took a long time to outlaw drinking and driving, which they finally did in 2002, and passengers could imbibe until 2007.
Site to See: Yellowstone National Park was the first national park in both the U.S. and the world. The vast majority of Yellowstone sits in northwest Wyoming, while parts of the park stretch into Montana and Idaho. One of the park’s top attractions is Old Faithful, the geyser you can basically set your watch to, going off every 45 minutes to two hours. Yellowstone is also known for its wildlife, including bears, bison, wolves and coyotes.
Street: Wyoming has a number of scenic byways, including the Beartooth Scenic Byway (Wyoming’s only National Scenic Byway, winding through Shoshone National Forest, leading to one of the entrances of Yellowstone National Park) and the Wyoming Centennial Scenic Byway (which follows the routes of explorers such as John Colter and David Edward Jackson).
TV Show: A number of westerns have been set in Wyoming, most notably the series Longmire, based on the Walt Longmire Mysteries book franchise by Craig Johnson. The show is about a sheriff (played by Robert Taylor) investigating major crimes in the fictional Absaroka County. The series ran for six seasons and 63 episodes between the A&E network and Netflix.
Movie: Again, westerns rule the category here, including Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, starring Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell and Jennifer Jason Leigh. The film is about eight strangers, each with their own interesting backstory and motives, who are stuck together waiting out a snowstorm in Wyoming. The night evolves in typical Tarantino fashion, with interesting developments and lots of bloodshed.
Book/Author: Before it was a controversial film, Brokeback Mountain was a short story by Annie Proulx, first appearing in The New Yorker in 1997. The story earned Proulx her first of back-to-back O. Henry Prizes, awarded each year to the country’s best short story. The tale centers on a romantic relationship between two seasonal cowboys and how that develops over a 20-year period in Wyoming’s fictional Brokeback Mountain area.
Fictional Character: Yogi Bear, picnic basket master thief of Jellystone National Park (based on Yellowstone), began his iconic career as a side character on The Huckleberry Hound Show. His popularity earned him his own series The Yogi Bear Show a few years later. Yogi hit the big screen in 1964 with Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear! and again in 2010 with a live action/animated film, voiced by Dan Aykroyd and with Justin Timberlake as Boo-Boo Bear.
Fictional City: Many of the westerns set in the state have been given a fictional setting. Perhaps the top locale among them would be Big Whiskey, where the 1992 film Unforgiven largely takes place. The movie starred Clint Eastwood as a former outlaw who has gone straight, but takes on one last job before riding off into the sunset. The movie won four Oscars, including Best Picture, and has been added to the National Film Registry.
Actor/Actress: It was fairly slim pickings for this category, so I’ll go with Matthew Fox, who was raised in Crowheart. Fox starred in the TV shows Party of Five and Lost, along with leading roles in films such as We Are Marshall, Vantage Point and Alex Cross. Playing Dr. Jack Shephard on Lost, earned Fox Emmy and Golden Globe nominations.
Song: Paint Me Back Home in Wyoming by Chris LeDoux is a favourite song within the state, telling the tale of a cowboy who just wants to be riding back home. LeDoux moved to Wyoming as a teenager and later began a rodeo career, earning a posthumous induction into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame. Following his rodeo days, LeDoux became a country musician, awarded a Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award by the Academy of Country Music.
Band/Musician: Aside from the aforementioned Chris LeDoux, fellow country musician and rodeo competitor Chancey Williams is probably Wyoming’s top musical export. Williams, born in Moorcroft, is a member of the Younger Brothers Band, which he formed with his childhood friend Travis DeWitt when the two were in high school. The group has sold more than 40,000 records, one of which made the Billboard charts.
People: Painter Jackson Pollock was born in Cody. The modern artist is best known for his drip technique/action painting, which saw him pour or splash paint onto horizontal canvas and letting the substance form and settle where it may. Some critics loved the style, while others hated it, but don’t most artists get similar treatment!? Pollock, who died at the age of 44 in an alcohol-fueled single vehicle accident, had the last laugh with one of his works selling for $200 million.
Animal: Wyoming’s State Emblem – which adorns license plates and the state quarter, as well as being the University of Wyoming logo – is the image of a bucking horse and rider. While the rider is thought to be cowboy Clayton Danks, the bronco is said to be Old Steamboat, one of the most famous rodeo horses of all-time. The logo was brought in to oppose license plate counterfeiting and is the longest-running license plate symbol in the world.
Invention: Who doesn’t love ‘Taco Tuesday’? Well, Wyoming claims to be the birthplace of that concept, and as someone who has taken advantage of it, I have to thank the state for the promotion. We go back to Taco John’s for this fantastic creation, with the business being given a trademark to it in 1989. While Taco John’s trademark extends through much of the country, most avid eaters believe the phrase shouldn’t be owned by anybody.
Crime: Polly Bartlett was Wyoming’s first (and worst) serial killer. Her family ran an inn in South Pass City, located along the Oregon Trail. 22 bodies were found at the inn, poisoned by arsenic and relieved of their money. The family fled, but were shortly captured, with Polly’s father killed in the arrest. Polly was dubbed the Murderess of Slaughterhouse Gulch. While awaiting trial for her numerous crimes, Polly was shot to death by a vigilante.
Law: Wyoming has a number of laws that discriminate against being drunk. These include not being able to ski, buy junk, or mine, while being intoxicated. Even worse, women are prohibited from standing within five feet of a bar, while enjoying a beverage.
Sports Team: There are no professional teams located in Wyoming, making the University of Wyoming Cowboys and Cowgirls athletic programs the top game in town. Squads from the school compete at the NCAA Division I level in sports such as football, basketball, track and field and golf. Aside from that, rodeo is very important in Wyoming, being designated as the State Sport.
Athlete: Greco-Roman wrestler Rulon Gardner was born in Afton. He won gold and bronze medals at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics, respectively. Gardner’s gold medal win was particularly special, as he defeated Russian Aleksander Karelin in the finals, despite Karelin not suffering an international competition loss for 13 preceding their match. Following his wrestling career, Gardner became a NBC Sports analyst for the 2008 Olympics.
Famous Home: The Fossil Cabin, found near Medicine Bow, is a home comprised of dinosaur bones that were found at Como Bluff. The popular roadside attraction was built in 1932 using 5,796 fossils. Weighing 102,116 pounds, the bones were collected by creator Thomas Boylan over a 17-year period. Ripley’s Believe It of Not once promoted the place as ‘The World’s Oldest Cabin’. The National Historic Place used the slogan ‘The Building that Used to Walk’.
Urban Legend: The Jackalope, a mythical animal (half jackrabbit, half antelope) created by the taxidermy skills of the Herrick brothers, was first put on display at a hotel in the city of Douglas. Many tall tales regarding the jackalope have circulated since. In recent years, the fictional animal has twice been nominated to be Wyoming’s State Mythical Creature. Jackalope hunting licenses can be purchased in Douglas and are valid for only two hours on June 31… a day which doesn’t exist!
Museum: The Buffalo Bill Center of the West is located in Cody. The complex combines five museums, including the Buffalo Bill Museum, Plains Indians Museum, Whitney Western Art Museum, Draper Natural History Museum, and Cody Firearms Museum. Founded in 1917, the Center has been described by The New York Times as “among the nation’s most remarkable museums.”
Firsts: Wyoming was the first territory to give women the right to vote, doing so in 1869. This is why the state proudly uses the nickname the Equality State. There is speculation that the move to allow women to vote was done to bring more women to Wyoming, where males outnumbered females at a six to one ratio. Others believe the change was made to strengthen the conservative vote or simply to reap some good publicity.
Company: Department store chain JCPenney was founded by James Cash Penney in Kemmerer, as a Golden Rule store in 1902. Today, the brand’s “Mother Store” (the second ever opened) can still be found in Kemmerer. The chain has 840 locations across the U.S. and in Puerto Rico, although in May 2020, JCPenney filed for bankruptcy, eventually purchased for $800 million.
Events: The U.S. National Parks system was established when Yellowstone National Park was made the world’s first such attraction in 1872. In 1891, Shoshone National Forest became the country’s first National Forest, while in 1906, Devils Tower (also known as Bear Lodge Butte) became America’s first National Monument.
Miscellaneous: A number of legendary outlaws have ties to Wyoming. Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch crew, as well as the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang (a term used for various outlaws and groups) inhabited the Kaycee area, hiding out from lawmen. Also, Harry Longabaugh received his ‘Sundance Kid’ nickname after serving time in jail for stealing a horse in the town of Sundance.
- Muddle Mint Leaves
- 2 oz Bourbon
- 1 oz Elderflower Liqueur
- Top with Grapefruit Soda
- Garnish with a Mint Sprig
The recipe I found for this drink was definitely for a punch, so I did my best to narrow it down to a single serving. Much like the geyser the beverage is named after, this will reliably get you drunk, given its three ounces of alcohol.