Our Popularity Was Due to Our Wyoming License Plates

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Bill Sniffin
Bill Sniffin

So there we were, driving the most popular vehicle among what seemed like 25,000 cars and trucks stopped in a massive Southern California traffic jam.

The reason for my vehicle’s popularity was the recently disclosed fact that our Wyoming license plate is viewed as the most attractive plate in the country.  It could be assumed that all those folks had never seen one before and that was why they were honking at me and waving at me with strange gestures.

We were sure it had nothing to do with the fact that I was trying to maneuver a 40-foot long motorhome and tow car from one lane to another at 5:00 p.m. on a Friday evening during the worst rush hour conditions possible.

Rather than panic, I suggested to my shell-shocked wife Nancy that we savor this moment.  “There might be more cars and trucks within our view than we would ever see in one place in the state of Wyoming,” I told her.

“If we survive this, we can tell our children and grandchildren that we somehow managed to creep to safety from the relentless and never-ending stream of motorized vehicles stretching from one horizon to the other,” I cheerfully said.  She did not say anything.

Our iconic license plates were first designed by the late Lester Hunt, a former U. S. Senator, governor and secretary of state from Lander.

Earlier we had driven to San Diego from Las Vegas on I-15 and were amazed both at the traffic jams that stretched for miles plus the lack of official rest areas.  Why no rest areas?  When you are in a motorhome, such off-ramp oases come in handy as places where you can pull over to check out your tow car or to make a sandwich.

Nevada has nice rest areas but there were none from the California border to downtown San Diego.

California prides itself as being at the forefront of trends affecting the rest of the country. 

One trend that might make sense on our busy I-80 (with its 16,000 semi trailer trucks a day) is the California system of having a third lane on the right for trucks and vehicles pulling trailers.  We were stuck most of the time in that lane.  Your speed limit is limited to 55 mph and you are sternly warned to say out of the other two lanes. 

Maybe on Wyoming’s I-80, we could restrict semis to the right-hand lane?  Just a thought.

And maybe we should make a lot more three-lane areas and/or restrict the semis to the right two lanes?  Again, smarter people than me have been working on this.

One of the more interesting sights along the way was what appeared to be a vast body of water off in the distance.  It was a sea, all right, a sea of mirrors.  There is a huge solar array along I-15 at the eastern edge of California.

Except for the ocean, there is no water in Southern California. Dry as a bone. My brother Jerry who lives in San Diego says water police are combing neighborhoods issuing big fines for people wasting water.

We enjoyed our time in southern California especially when it was 75 degrees there and -16 back in Lander.  But we are now back home and loving Wyoming. It was 53 degrees in Lander last week.

It is probably appropriate to mention some of the top attractions that we visited. For example:

  • The San Diego zoo. This surely is the finest and perhaps the biggest zoo in the world.  Tigers, lions and bears were there along with pandas and a rhino that you could pet.  This vast area is a must-see if you get to Southern California.
  • The harbor at San Diego is an amazing place with all the military ships and awesome hardware.  The boat tour was nice and the weather was good, too. We saw three aircraft carriers parked in the harbor, the Reagan, the Nimitz and one that carried just helicopters.
  • Torrey Pines golf course has hosted many PGA tournaments and U. S. Opens.  A fun course to play with lots of ocean to distract you. Another distraction was a constant stream of those Marine Osprey flying machines that take off like a helicopter and then fly like a plane.  Amazing machines and loud, too.
  • Coronado Island is wonderful and the 60-story high bridge you take to get there is a thrill, indeed.  We also enjoyed the beaches called Mission, Pacific and Ocean, especially.


Check out Bill Sniffin’s columns at www.billsniffin.com.  He is a longtime Wyoming journalist from Lander who has written four books. His most recent book is “Wyoming’s 7 Greatest Natural Wonders” which is available at www.wyomingwonders.com.



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