On April 28th, 2000, I drove north from Laramie to Casper, Matt's hometown. When you take that trip you pass through Bosler first, a handful of falling-down buildings one heart attack away from a ghost town; then Rock River, population 190, the railroad looping along its western edge. Medicine Bow is up next, a few streets and a row of high-tech windmills harvesting the permanently whipped-up air. You can see the hunched back of Como Bluff in the distance, where the dinosaur bone wars played out over a hundred years ago and fossil hunters still dig up remnants of cruel past worlds. Then just beyond the Virginian Hotel, Medicine Bow's small claim to western fame, you hang a right into the Shirley Basin, and the world drops away fast.
Recently some researchers have argued that the old frontier persists in America, demographically speaking anyway. If you cat-