The Great Plains include eastern Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico; the western part of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma; and pieces of Texas. Generally east of the Rockies so no mountains; hundreds of miles from the oceans, hardly a tree in some spots.
Just me and you and a dog named boo
Travellin’ and livin’ off the land
Me and you and a dog named boo
How I love being a free [wo]man…
I can still recall
The wheat fields of St. Paul…
Couldn’t resist because I miss traveling with Max. (Thank you Lobo)
But I digress!
I drive back and forth over much of this territory almost every summer. Crisscrossing to try new roads or catch a bit of history, sometimes just trying to get to my destination, sometimes happily meandering. I complain but at the same time it’s like getting to the heart of the matter or rather the center of the nation, for better or worse. A large sign: Another Tea Party Patriot.
Abandoned houses and tiny towns by the dozens. Horses, cows, burning, bleak, highway, field, highway, stripes of horizon.
The Great Plains are a large expanse of flatness, this summer roasting with heat and dry to the bedrock. The corn isn’t growing. What sadness to look at fields that should be wavy with tall green – elephant’s eye and all that – and they are instead spotty with stubble and brown.
How drivable this country is though. There is rarely a sight that is grand or unusual in any way but the roads are good and straight with no traffic or signs or cops or stray animals. The freeway is unnecessary. On these roads cutting up and down and kitty corner across Kansas and Nebraska you can drive as fast as you want, pull over on a dime for a photo op and find gas and coffee as often as you need. What is lacking in scenic views is more than made up for in a delicious sense of freedom.
I am at a motel called the Sleep Inn. Indulging my obsession about keeping a window open extracts a price here in Oakley, Kansas. There’s a feed lot just south of us and every other breeze blows in the delightful scent of cow manure. Actually it is preferable to the perfumed spray that usually saturates roadside motels. Didn’t motels in Kansas cost $35 a night in some not-too-distant past…now it’s $100.
It was 119° at one stop today. 113° when I checked into my room.
The goal is to read much of Ian Frazier’s Great Plains tonight so I have things to write about tomorrow night! (He is my source of just exactly what territory comprises the Great Plains.)