Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wyoming vs. Utah - part1

Fourteen years ago there was a naive, Wyoming, native that decided to venture out and pitch her tent in Utah.

The move proved to be a little difficult as this Wyoming-ite tried to become acclimated to the Utah culture. She noticed quite a few differences between the two western states that still baffle her today.

As you may have already guessed, the naive, Wyoming, native was me. Even though I am now a documented, legalized Utahn, I can't help but still compare my beloved Wyoming, land where the deer and antelope roam, to the vast differences of Utah. The Land of "oh my hecks" and green jello.

The following are some of my observations that I have come to recognize as being distinct differences between the two states.

First and foremost is the driving differences. OH. MY. HECK. (see, I am a Utahn now. The lingo has become a part of me) The one thing that I feared most about my great move to the land of Utah, was driving in it. Yup, scared the living daylights out of me.

The Utes seem to have their own driving laws that they alone, only know of. Tourists and visitors beware. Who knew that every time I was to approach any turning lane it would become a race to be the one to enter the lane first! I swear every time I am driving I can hear the commentators of NASCAR announcing every play by play, if you will. If you have not entered the turning lane at least a mile before the stoplight or turn, you might as well keep moving. You lost your chance.

Another Utah driver phenomenon is the mere fact that instead of preparing to enter the lane that leads to an exit on the free way a mile or two before approaching it, they will risk life and limb to cross 4 busy lanes of traffic at high speed to make their exit. The Utes also seem to have difficulties staying in one lane. Speed up, slow down, speed up, slow down. They are incapable of casually driving behind some one. It must be in their DNA. My husband is the King of Guilty when it comes to this very driving maneuver. (imagine me using my "mocking" voice now) Oh no! We can let someone pass us on the free way! Oh no! We must not drive behind someone! We must pass them and not let them pass us! Many glares and eye rolls have been flashed at him, due these crazy driving habits.

It's these crazy road antics that causes me to take the "back roads" instead of the free way.

And then there is the "Utah Merge". Help me Rhonda!!! I have one question to ask, "What's the hurry Utes?" Left hand turns are evil in this state. I try to avoid them at all times. I will travel 5 miles up the road to avoid them. Let me tell ya, it's scary when you are driving along, minding your own business... then there it is!!! Some one puts the pedal to medal and whips their vehicle into the center of the road, into the turning lane. My reflexes can't help but swerve my car away from them. And then instead of stopping, looking in their mirrors, signaling, and merging into traffic when the coast is clear, they instead continue driving in the middle of the turning lane. They look at you with shear determination to pass you then cut you off, which causes me to slam on my breaks and cause whiplash damage to my precious children's necks. A cuss word or two, may have slipped out of my mouth during these certain experiences.

Wyoming drivers, however, are not that perfect either. When ever I go home I am amazed at how slow they drive, but they seem to make an exception to drive at top speeds when they are driving in a blizzard, on steep ice covered mountain passes, with a million foot drop on either side of the road. They aren't worried. They have their studded tires on and their 4 wheel drive pickups! And that leads me to another observation... everyone in Wyoming owns a truck. I believe it's a Wyoming law.

Here is someone that you may encounter, while driving in Wyoming.
Ed, here, is a little upset with me. I accidentally let my acquired Utah driving habits come out and I may have performed the "Utah Merge" on him.

"What in tar-nation?!?!?!"

I hate to admit it, but one of the most difficult things to get use to, when I moved to Utah, was buckling up all of the time. Yup, some Wyoming-ites apparently aren't too concerned about being catapulted through the front of their windshields. Oh I would buckle up if I happened to be traveling long distances on a highway and such, but in town...not so much. When you only encounter 3 other drivers on a road and they are only traveling 15 MPH, I just didn't see the reason to put on a seat belt. Now, I don't even drive to my mailbox with out my seat belt on! Having kids will do that to a person.

When it comes to exiting a highly attended function, such as a high school football game, graduation, or a concert, something odd happens to the collected Wyoming-ite brains. They become mentally incompetent and will try to exit the parking lot all at the same time. Which then results in a massive traffic jam, of sorts. I must give "props" to the Utes. They will take turns when leaving a parking lot full of fellow drivers.

How much do you want to bet this mess of drivers are from Wyoming?

I must say that driving in Utah is an acquired skill. One that even encounters breaking certain road laws. Back home I would have never, ever passed someone on their right hand side, while traffic came to a stop. Wyoming-ites wait. The only time they would ever perform this maneuver is if there happened to be a cow jam in the middle of the road. But for the most part, we just slowly nudge the cows, or sheep in some instances, with our big 'ol trucks. And if they don't move, we run them over. I kid! I kid!

Fourteen years later, and I would have to honestly say that my driving skills have improved. And I have to give much of the credit to living in Utah. I've become a little more bold, practice defensive driving religiously, and am more comfortable driving in high traffic areas. Oh heavens, you should have seen me when I first moved here! You could often find me pulled over to the side of the road, laying in the fetal position and sucking my thumb in my driver's seat. Okay, maybe not so much. Now, my mom wouldn't say my driving skills have improved. Whenever she comes to visit, she white knuckles it the entire drive. Then there is my dad, who was also born and raised in Utah. All I can say is, Yikes.

So as I end today's post, I have a little word of advice for my fellow Ute drivers...

Drive safely. And when you happen to come upon a vehicle with that familiar license plate with the bucking horse and cowboy, be kind. We don't have much experience driving in the big cities.

Did you know that the number/s on the very left of the Wyoming license plate is the number of the county from which the owner of the vehicle is from? My husband thinks that is pretty cool and will ask, "where are they from?" whenever we see a Wyoming-ite's plates. So if you see "county 10", tip your hat at them tell them "howdy!" from Jen.

*A little history lesson. It has been said that the bucking bronco on the Wyoming license plate was named "Steamboat" . He was a world champion bronco, from 1901 to 1914, that would not let anyone ride him. The rider was supposedly a champion rider, named Jerome "Stub" Farlow. "Stub" was from my neck of the woods, Lander Wyoming!

Yee haw! Ride-em cowboy!

Stay tuned for further crazy installments of Wyoming vs. Utah!


  1. Oh.My.Heck! j/k you are soo funny! I knew this would be hilarious. And everything you said is true. Kinda sad:)

  2. you crazy utah driver!!! (isn't that what we Wyomingites say??)

    I guess I have been an Idahoan for 18 years--but still have that Wyoming blood in my veins!

    I love your blog--you are very entertaining :)

  3. lmao!!!

    I can't CANT let anyone pass me, its in my blood, just can't do it. I wonder about the people I am passing, wondering why they are going the speed limit, or 5 under, wondering if they just don't want to get home, or what they are thinking??? I think they are CRAZY.

    And about the county number... I was riding with my step mom, whom used to reside in WY. We pass a WY plate, and she excitedly says, Do I know them, slow down, see who that is. Really? I thought, what the? Is she for serious? Then someone told me it was because they were from the same county, and chances were she would know them.
    Glad us Utes don't do that, there would be more rubbernecking to complain and rubberneck about.

  4. LOL Jen! =D Having lived in both states myself, I know exactly what you're saying. I'm a bit luckier because I learned how to drive a Ute THEN moved to Wyoming so it was quite as bit of culture shock as it was for you. I love the driving conditions here, more then a 30 second wait for cars to pass is considered "rush hour"...

    The only thing ya left out was the parking! In Utah, everybody parks about 6 inches away from each other because there are so many people rushing to Wal-Mart and the mall that there has to be a begillion parking spots. In Wyoming (at least in the winter) it's park wherever ya see snow making the rows of parking look like many rows of "S's" and even some "L" shaped rows.

  5. That's interesting about the bucking bronco and it's rider. I'll have to pass that on to Brian. Whenever we see a Wyoming plate I always ask Brian which town they are from.

  6. Does that mean there are only 216 cars in that county? Boy howdy, you weren't just a kiddin' about not driving in big towns, or little towns for that matter....

  7. Ha! yes, I can really appreciate this. After living in Utah for 7 years myself I know all too well the craziness that is the Utah driver.

  8. LOL!! This is seriously Funny!! You made my day. Love all the photos :)

  9. Great Post!!! I can relate to ALL of it. When we were first married we lived in Provo for 8 months, and that's just a lot of stupid student drivers on top of Utah drivers, and then we moved to California where they are VERY aggressive, it scared the living daylights out of me to drive there. I loved reading your post! You are entertaining!


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