On the Verge of the Rockies

holdridge-nebraska.jpgThis was, unexpectedly, the longest day yet, but I write this from Pueblo, Colorado, about fifty miles farther than we planned to end up the night and about a hundred miles further than I'd expected. We avoided the freeways of Denver, and saw land that was flatter than a pancake. Let me explain.

We left Grinnell, Iowa, fortified by excellent espresso, and had a short jaunt to Omaha, where we spent an afternoon and stayed overnight with our old friend Therese and her husband Rob. The rest stop was greatly appreciated, and we played Ticket to Ride and learned a interesting Scrabble-like puzzle game called Quirkle. Then we headed off into Nebraska after breakfast.

On trips through Northern Ontario, there's a song that people are supposed to sing, to describe the wonderful things they will see a lot of along the way. The lyrics go something like this:

Rocks and trees! Trees and rocks!
Rocks and trees! Trees and rocks!
Rocks and trees! Trees and Rocks and waterrrrrrr!

Nebraska could come up with its own song very easily, and it would go like this:

Corn and beans! Beans and corn!
Corn and beans! Beans and corn!

Corn and beans! Beans and corn and cattlllllllle!

The states get bigger the further west you go. You cross the border on I-80, and the mileage markers start counting down from over 400. We made good time on the i-80, but it was hot and loud, and the kids were getting somewhat battle fatigued. So Erin made an executive decision to turn the car south at Kearney, and take a route that bypassed Denver for Colorado Springs and also, incidentally, took us into Kansas, thus knocking another US state off my list.

Urban legend has it that scientists measured Kansas and pronounced it to be, on average, flatter than a pancake, and I have no trouble believing this. You'd think that, with Nebraska being among the Great Plains states, that it would be flat. It isn't. It's hot, and rugged, and tinged yellow wherever you go. It's strange, but heading south caused the land to flatten out almost completely, and turn green. The sky also got even more interesting. We followed thunderstorms for miles, only occasionally getting wet. We observed lightning strikes in the distance. And we came through places where we could only see crops; no houses, and no other cars on the road. And these were US (federal) highways.

We hit I-70 and turned west, and the land changed soon after we entered Colorado. Visiting Denver back in 2016, I was amazed at how flat Colorado seemed, before transforming within the span of a city to a community in the foothills. I see now, after having seen true flatness in Kansas, that Colorado has small ridges -- possibly waves in the techtonic forces that preceed the mountains.

Because the mountains are still amazing, even though we came in after sunset. Their presence can still be felt. We know we're on the cusp of things.

We'll be staying in Pueblo for two nights, meeting some friends, and seeing some amazing scenery. And also catching our breath a little after a long day.

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