High Plains Driftin’…..

The plains of western Kansas and high plains of eastern Colorado are beautiful in all seasons. The undulating landscape reaches as far as the eye can see, to where the earth meets the sky. There are fields of corn, milo, and sunflowers ready to be harvested in late summer. In late fall, summer crops are harvested, winter wheat is planted, hunters are walking the fields and tumbleweeds are blowing in the wind. Winter brings cold weather, blowing snow, fields lying fallow, ready and waiting for growing again. The ground is plowed and cultivated in late winter and early spring, ready to plant summer crops once again.

Colors change, fields are green, yellow, sometimes red, orange, brown, gray. Different shades of blue cross the skies, as white, grey and, occasionally, black clouds, float, swirl, skitter or rotate. No matter the season, there are cattle grazing, windmills catching the wind, deer in the fields at dusk and dawn and signs advertising places of interest to visit.

The flattest land past Colby on I-70 is several miles east and 20 some miles west of the Colorado border. Even as a child, I never saw a whole lot of pancake flatland whizzing by my window. I traveled in the backseat of my parents Mercury convertible or my grandfather’s latest Lincoln Mercury or Oldsmobile deluxe car boat, driving west to Colorado on Highway 24, crossing through western Kansas, 85-90 miles an hour.

My dad once hit 100 miles an hour barreling through western Kansas on a Friday night to spend two days in a cabin before returning to Topeka on Sunday night.  I roused enough to hear my mother exclaim, “James, you are going 100 miles an hour!” I went back to sleep, knowing they had it all under control. In retrospect, a straight, fairly even, road was probably a good thing at 100 mph! Especially if the road was two-lane US Highway 24 back in the early 1950’s.

The summer I was six, my parents and grandparents vacationed with the four of us, aged 2-6, for one magical week in Colorado. We took turns riding with grandma and grandpa. During my turn, we crossed the Colorado border. Grandma Smith described the first sight of the mountains; low lying clouds would develop dark peak shapes. Back then, the Rocky Mountain Front Range could be seen from Limon, Colorado. Southwest of Limon, Pike’s Peak was visible from the plains.

We walked on the bridge spanning the Royal Gorge near Canon City. Let’s say I walked, my brother climbed onto the outside of the railing and hung there. My mother was rendered speechless. My father was galvanized into stretching his legs into a really long stride and plucked my brother out of danger.

In Colorado Springs, we clambered all over Garden of the Gods and drove up Pikes Peak. In Estes Park, we stayed in a cabin on Devil’s Gulch Road, caught fish in a family friendly, commercial fishpond and rode Popcorn, the same Shetland pony my mother rode on when she was a little girl.

Last September, the memories from many trips to Colorado through the years were with me, as Mike and I made our way west of Denver, over Berthoud Pass, through Winter Park and Granby to Grand Lake, the southern entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. The trip was wonderful and helped us traverse the next six months.

©2016 Susan Kendall. All rights reserved

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Lily

Born in Topeka, Kansas in the middle of the 20th Century, daughter, granddaughter, niece, sister, cousin, mother, aunt, grandmother, great-grandmother, friend, reader, spiritual, writer, cook, crafter, junker...... twice-married, former non-profit executive in retread mode... currently living a bucket list life in a remodeled schoolhouse.....

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