Friday, November 4, 2011

Then There's People

We just got back home from Denver CO visiting family.  A great time, no problems, and good to be home. 

We choose to drive almost no interstate roads for many reasons.  It's usually less stressful driving, it's filled with beautiful country side, small regional towns, local mom and pop eateries, and a better snapshot of the region.  This time Route 34 was the main choice on the way out and I highly recommend.

We arrived after Denver's big snow had melted off the roads and scooted home right ahead of the next big weather system.
I enjoy the farm land and harvest time is always interesting.  The size of the farms increased the farther west we drove - some fields stretching as far as one could see.  The crops faded from corn and soybeans to corn, alfalfa and wheat.  Huge cattle operations (both beef and dairy) had large square bales of both hay and straw stacked in the open.  Silos and grain elevators took up a full block or filled a field. 
Since we used a more southern route both ways, the Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado areas were hilly at the least and mountainous at the highest.  It never became boring especially with the many colored fall leaves.
I'm always interested in what's planted in yards and how things are landscaped in different regions.  The hillside mansions, desolate backwoods shacks, ranches, farm hand homes, and towns that still reflect the tough life of when the west was settled. 
Sadly, many little mountain towns almost exclusively rely on tourists dollars.  Many buildings were vacant.  The economy has had a negative effect on those small businesses.  Overheard several merchants talking about how the streets used to be filled with visitors and now they're having days without anyone at all coming to their stores.
While riding or in a motel, I'll often read a local newspaper and it certainly shows one thing for certain:  No matter where you live in the U.S., people are the same.  It reports on the local kids' doings, the soldier who didn't make it home from war, town politics, the regional celebrations and it's reported as if it's the best place to live in the entire world.  Something refreshing about that.  

And then there's the local food. . .  ate at a fun "Diners-Drive-Ins-and Dives" featured place with the kids.  On the way home, had the best Eggs Benedict made from scratch to perfection in Breckenridge at the "Blue Moose".  The eggs were poached in water to just runny and the hollandaise sauce was light and just hinting the lemon.   It was a vegetarian version so instead of Canadian bacon it substituted a slice of tomato and slices of avocado.  Someone hold my head - I'm gonna swoon!

This longhorn is downtown Dodge City but we saw many field longhorns, Angus, shorthorns, Holsteins and a few of the newer white grays that I'm not able to identify.  When farmers in the Midwest stopped raising cattle and hogs, they started taking down their fences.  Out west there was miles upon hundreds of miles of old fashioned barbed wire interspersed with electric.

I was quite surprised that we didn't see more windmill farms.  We've got almost 260 coming to our neighborhood.  You would think with the windswept plains, it would be perfect.  Either too windy or perhaps not appealing to the land owners.

And as we drove home through Kansas we commiserated with Dorothy:  "There's no place like home!" 

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