We’re up early. Bob and Jarrett have the van packed and ready for my suitcase by the time I open my motel door. We all want out of here. But first we walk over to the Days Inn for the low-rent free breakfast. We each eat a bowl of cereal and vow to stop for decent coffee first chance we get.
Then we’re back onto the Salt Flats. It’s smooth effortless driving. We notice that every time there’s an occasional cross road, it usually passes overhead on an overpass, and Bob says that the terrain is so flat that even that little rise might give us a bit of view, and we ought to stop to grab a few shots.
So we stop. We get out the tripod and shoot both ways, east and west. You can see our shadows in the photo. Who knows if we’ll use this stuff, but it’s stark and weirdly beautiful.
As on the trip west, I really like the road signs that say DROWSY DRIVERS PULL OVER IF NECESSARY. The sentiment seems so civilized and considerate, so unlike a Department of Motor Vehicles directive. I guess when you’re on this relatively narrow, flat and straight causeway-like path across the salt flats, you might wonder, “If I’m sleepy, what should I do?” The answer is on the sign.
We nonchalantly wave at Tooele, Saltair, Magna and Salt Lake City as we pass. We decide it’s too early for lunch at Park City and we zip across Utah in a flash.
Wyoming is next. We remember a great Mexican lunch in Green River and decide to see if we can find another restaurant there that looks worth a try. We drive through town and like the slightly goofy style at the Buckaroo Family Restaurant, so we pull into the lot.
It’s afternoon but Bob decides to get breakfast (that cereal this morning just didn’t make it, and hey, breakfast is good 24 hours a day), Jarrett gets a salad, and I get the soup du jour, bean with bacon. It’s buckaroo.
The three waitresses are attentive and fun, and there are few customers here on this Sunday afternoon. We listen to the waitresses’ chatter as they take care of various chores around the restaurant, and one of them mentions the Steelers. Bob says Yeah, Go Steelers! and we find out the one waitress, Kara, is from Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and she moved out here with her mom, but she really misses western Pennsylvania. “There’s nothing like the Steelers out here. People think I’m crazy to be such a fan.” She also confesses she’s really not from Johnstown but from the small town of Tanneryville, PA.
So, we’re in the middle of Wyoming, the landscape around this town is extraordinary (see my blog entry titled “Geology. Yesterday was Day 8” from August 28) and we’re in Buckaroo’s, a family restaurant with a cowboy theme. Who do I think of? Fred Rogers. Mister Rogers. We all knew him for years at WQED in Pittsburgh, and I got to interview him once for a couple of hours. I remember asking him about his early work at NBC in New York when he worked with people like Kate Smith and Gabby Hayes.
FRED: Oh well, I floor-managed his program every once in a while. Gabby Hayes would introduce western films, and then we’d go into the film, and we’d have lots of time to talk in between.
GABBY: Well, howdy, buckaroos! It’s your old pal Gabby Hayes, comin’ at you with another one of them rip-roarin’ western yarns. Ha! Ye’re darn tootin’! Yessiree, Bob.
FRED And so one day I said, “Mr. Hayes, what do you think of when you look at the camera, and you know there are so many people watching you?” And he said, “Freddie, I just think of one little buckaroo.” And I thought that was superb advice for anybody who would ever be thinking of television. He evidently thought of one child. Now I don’t think of any one particular child, but I think of the children I know and many of the aspects of life that they’re dealing with. And I don’t think of a whole lot of people when I look at the television camera. It’s a very, very personal medium.
So, out in Wyoming, at Buckaroos, I’m thinking of Fred and Gabby and their advice for on-camera personalities.