May 27, 2011
I’m in the parking lot of the Flying J in Aurora, CO, just outside of Denver, having spent the night last night at a rest stop about 50 miles east of Denver on I-70. I arrived here a day later than initially intended because I spent that extra day in WaKeeney, KA, waiting out a wind-storm. I woke up two days ago, after the tornado-brewing front passed south-east of WaKeeney, and the wind was still blowing mightily. I didn’t want to be driving in that wind and thought I might just wait it out right where I was. The wind was still lashing the campground trees and wobbling my rig at 11:00 AM, check-out time, so I decided to stay there another day, work on some writing, and get online. I have a little “Mi-Fi” internet access device, which has been wonderful for this trip. It really does seem to connect anywhere!
I sat in the RV most of the day while it rocked like a light boat in heavy seas. It’s a good thing I don’t get motion sickness. The chimes I always set up when I stop for the night were clinging and clanging as the vehicle swayed in the broadside shear. I did manage to accomplish quite a bit in the forced idleness - finished revising the proposal for the Korea book, cleared e-mail boxes and updated my blog.
Yesterday morning, high wind still blew across the high Kansas plains, the blue sky was dotted with distant clouds, and the highway (I-70) was sparsely traveled. On the road, again, the impression I had was of a huge, ordered, emptiness. "The immense fields are mostly brown now, littered with corn stubble, although a few fields are deep green, probably winter wheat. The horizon is far, far away, so far that the curvature of the earth is the only impediment to seeing what might be a hundred miles away. No matter where the vista, clusters of grain elevators can be seen somewhere on the horizon. Although there is a slight roll to the plains, with trees, and cows, and water sometimes collected in depressions, there is a gentle vastness to it all. In some places, two or three parallel lines of evergreens lean slightly, blown aslant by the wind coming up from the south. The trees are no doubt planted as wind or snow barriers."
When I crossed into Colorado, the landscape began to change to a more rolling countryside with deeper dips and arroyos. And the land changed to mostly scrub - short, tawny-green prairie grass dotted with scrub plants - sage-brush, small, pointy-leafed succulents and some foot-high pine or cedar or juniper. Although there were fences, I saw few cows, and buildings were mostly dilapidated remnants of houses and sheds. Tumbleweed blew across the highway. The rest-stop where I stayed last night was in the midst of this dry, windy wasteland. Trying to make a living on that land might drive you crazy.
This morning, the landscape driving into Denver became greener, and mountains appeared on the horizon – gray at first, then deep blue with white tops extending into and blending with clouds hovering above them. The driving, even in this suburb of Denver, seems easy, and the highways were not crowded when I came into the Flying J. in Denver.