Thursday, August 14, 2008

More Travelogue and Road Lessons

I'm back in Grand Junction, and there's lots going
on, but lots to get out ahead of it as well.

Provincetown on a summer evening is one of my favorite places on Earth.

There is an organized chaos, a joy of living, a sense of friendliness and irreverence that makes being a part of the crowd a very enjoyable experience. Sailing on the bay out of Macmillan Wharf is
a calming complement to the true sense of community that is abundant in places like Commercial Street, pictured above.

Luckily, we in Grand Junction have something that approaches; the Thursday night Farmer's Market.

Driving across Ontario offered few significant visual differences, but turning on the radio was an entirely different matter.

I found one news station on the AM dial with coverage of the propane plant explosion in Toronto the morning we drove through. The remainder of the AM stations seemed to be programmed with traditional music and commercial formats. It was quite the contrast to the barrage of divisive noise that populates the bulk of the AM dial in the states.

After leaving Des Moines on Tuesday morning, the weather cleared out and I decided to spend some time improving on the quality of the driving experience across Nebraska by traversing it via US Highway 6. This is the same Highway 6 that travels through Grand Junction, starting in Bishop, California (it originally started in Long Beach) and going all the way to..well, Provincetown. There's something about the highway and its' course that speaks to me.

Aside from the pungent odor of the occasional feedlot, the trip did not disappoint. We saw several oversize load trucks carrying huge blades for the numerous wind turbines that we saw being built in both Iowa and Nebraska. We saw a solar powered car going eastbound at about 50 MPH. We also got to drive through several interesting small towns and small cities, including the attractive regional 'hub' cities of Hastings, Holdrege, and McCook.

There were a couple of ulterior motives that led me to drive this particular portion of Highway 6, and both involve chasing the past. I'm tied to Holdrege and Hastings by a particular person, who was my first steady girlfriend in high school. Her home life didn't seem to lend itself to the possibility of college, and also led her to want to get out and get away as soon as she could.

When I told her that I wasn't ready to get married at 17, my stock dropped rapidly, and I was soon replaced by a Nebraska native who was stationed in a branch of the armed forces nearby. In 6 months she was married, and off to live in Holdrege. From what Google can tell me, she now lives in Hastings, has several grown children, and is a respected crafter, YMCA instructor, and musician. Her husband is a fairly well-known figure in the local and regional media.

In retrospect you can't help but be happy for people who know what they want, and go out and get it. For some reason I wanted to see where all that happened for her, and then move on. And that's what I'm doing.

Our second stop was in
McCook, and I found several reasons to celebrate the past there. The highway itself told a story of its' past, in the form of remnants of the original Highway 6 near a rest stop that is a hold-over from the old highway, and is also accessed by the current version of the highway.

I was struck by how narrow the two-lane road was, with no shoulder save for the grass. No lengthy off-ramps here; the turn-off to the rest area was a straight right turn with an attractive curve up a small hill.

My other reason for stopping was to see the only Frank Lloyd Wright structure built in Nebraska.

The Harvey P. Sutton House sits on top of a hill amongst other nice examples of local houses.

The house has been meticulously maintained, and like most Wright houses of his Prairie period that are maintained in such a way, it's hard to believe that the house was designed and built over a century ago.

There is a vintage clock in front of the town's old Carnegie Free Library building, which indicates it's from Sutton's Jewelry Store, perhaps the same Sutton that built the Wright house. That, along with the well-maintained red brick streets in the business district, gave me the distinct impression that there were some progressive people in this town around the turn of the 20
th Century, and that McCook is indeed a diamond in the rough of the high plains of south central Nebraska.

Our trip home continued along US-34 into Fort Morgan, and back onto the Interstate from there. We did get to see the Massacre Canyon Memorial near Trenton, Nebraska, and got to see a nice looking sunset between Wray and Yuma once we crossed the Colorado border.

And so the sun sets on another road trip. Aside from some of the other lessons learned along the way, I would have liked to have planned some sightseeing a little better, but the spontaneous nature of some of the trip was also very welcome.

Evan is getting ready to start school next week, and has been with his friends almost constantly since our return. I'm getting ready to start a new job soon, and am equally excited about that.

This autumn portends to be filled with all kinds of new directions and experiences, not only for my family but our nation as a whole. As driving across this country helps prove to me every time I do it, we are so very different, but can also gather together and make many positive things happen.

We The People will see no lack of opportunities for creating better communities and a better nation in the months ahead. Let's not squander the chance.

See you around town.

1 comment:

Len said...

Sounds like you had a great road trip across America. And, thanks for the kind words and picture of Provincetown -- my home town of 25 years before moving here to Grand Junction a year ago. Funny, though, I never thought to compare the Farmers Market to Commercial Street in high summer season. Now that you have, I can start to see it.