Sunday, August 10, 2008
Eastward Ho! Day 8: Pueblo, CO ---> Dodge City, KS
Today was a sad day; this entire trip I've had it in my head that once I left Colorado, well, I was almost home. Through Kansas, drop down into Oklahoma for a nice dinner with my oldest friends in Tulsa and then straight through Arkansas - The Gem State! - and then home. And once I crossed the Kansas border, I admit I did feel a little down, though Kansas has a particular extreme quality that appeals to me. My disappointment doesn't have anything to do with Kansas itself, only that the geography is starting to signal the beginning of the end of one of the best things I've ever done. So the border crossing was bittersweet...and almost instantly classic Kansas.
Then on to Dodge City, which actually may be the saddest town I've yet visited. And I've been to Green River, Utah. By happy (?) coincidence, my friend Chris is either from here or maybe his grandmother just lives here...I never pay attention when he talks, so I don't really know. Anyway, he comes back to visit twice a year and is always telling me how awful it is and I always roll my eyes and say "now now, everyone says that about where they're from." WELL I WON'T SAY THAT ANY MORE. I asked the concierge (cough cough) about a decent place to eat and she recommended the Kentucky Fried Chicken. NOW. I don't have to have truffled risotto EVERY NIGHT but this is a strict no-fast-food trip. So I called Chris back in Nashville, who couldn't think of a place to recommend to me, so he called his fabulous father Charlie...who couldn't think of a place either, so he then called a friend who lives here and so on and so on and so on and in the end it looks like I'm having steak for dinner. Which makes sense, I guess, since I passed a hundred million cows in feed lots on the way into town. Yesterday I was in Royal Gorge; today, I am in the middle of a cattle feedlot, which I guess is a royal gorge of a different sort.
I made a quick trip to Boot Hill, an astonishingly tiresome imitation-recreation of an old west town built on a real site that would otherwise be compelling and interesting. It's too bad they don't know what they have; the actual museum is quite interesting (except for the part where you stand in a room and hear buffalo stampeding and the floor vibrates with threat; it's like that part at the Holocaust Museum where they make you walk through the train boxcar. Only different!) but it's all surrounded by so much fake stuff - the olde tyme ice creame parlore and the photographie shoppe and ye olde west footstoole museum - it sort of cancels the good stuff out. I like fake, but I like it to be completely sincere, if that makes any sense (though I will say...Dodge City houses the Kansas Teachers Hall of Fame & Gunfighters Wax Museum - THAT'S ONE THING in case you were wondering). This was very half-hearted fake, with local high school boys acting like cowboys and putting on medicine shows and not really bothering to believe any of it. It was a little like those people who when Halloween rolls around decide at the last second to dress up like a hobo because it's
Tomorrow, Oklahoma, which will be my first "new state" of the trip; I've been to all the others on the route before. Once I check off Oklahoma, I'll be up to 36 total. Stupid Nebraska; I've been all the way around it but never in it.
Oh and one more thing: when I was at Arches National Park, it seems Wall Arch collapsed. It has nothing to do with that Ziploc bag full of rocks in the car. NOTHING. I didn't even GO to Wall Arch.