Our trip north, first from Central California, and now from the Gulf Coast, has become an annual tradition since our marriage seven years ago.
I was grateful, almost overwhelmed with gratitude, to see a Western landscape again after another year in the overly rainy, lush, humid, green Gulf – to see red soil, yuccas, layered buttes, dry prairie grass. We decided to take a rare chance to sightsee at Palo Duro Canyon, which seems somewhat incongruous with its surroundings, hidden away as it is in the middle of the high plains. Massive clumps of prickly pear speckled the ground; numerous birds sang and fluttered.
I hope it doesn’t become routine, but we again stayed at the musty motel in Julesburg, Colorado. This sign, posted above our sink, cracked us up, especially after the numerous ring-necked pheasants, a boon to hunters, that had run and flown across the road as we drove that afternoon.
The towns out here are small and many, unfortunately, appear to be on their last legs, including Broadwater, Nebraska, where we found this brightly colored, aging hotel.
A nearby town, however, was thriving, at least judged by the amount of tractor part farming going on. Doesn’t this look like garden rows of tractor parts?
Some people may think I’m nuts, but with every mile further north, I feel myself becoming more relaxed and at home. It begins as we slowly leave behind the heavier population and traffic of the state we currently live in. It grows stronger as the familiar markers of my region begin to appear: meadowlarks, robins, ring-necked pheasants, pronghorn antelope, sagebrush, yucca, occasional stands of ponderosa pine, lilacs, irises, and peonies in the town gardens,
Sometimes I make my husband stop the car at the state border so I can get out and press my palm against the soil of my childhood land. There is nothing like being home again.