A girls trip to see the world, free from screens.
My sister needed to pick up some sheep she’d purchased, and so the three sisters headed to New Mexico in a pickup truck with a portable trailer in the back. It was going to be a hard drive there and back again.
It wasn’t until a Coffee Cup truck stop in South Dakota that I could relax, for despite multiple stops in Pierre, that was the only place I was able to find a road atlas.
“I don’t trust Google,” I said repeatedly. “We need a road atlas just in case.”
One sister is all about geocaching, so we put her in charge of calling out upcoming caches on our route. My other sister is all about herbalism and taking photos of medicinal “weeds.” I like a good joke so at one point I crouched down behind rocks and had a photo taken that looked like I was falling off of a cliff, sending it to the family Telegram group and promptly getting my mom to wonder if I was alright.
I could regale you with tales of geocaching and bawdy jokes and listening to 80s tunes and jammin’ to Jon Bon Jovi and the peculiarities of dually pickups in narrow constructions zones, but mostly I’d like to tell you about elsewhere.
Do you remember the TV show St. Elsewhere?
I don’t; we didn’t have a TV and my parents would never have let me watch that show even if we did. But I do remember the theme song and I do remember reading about the pilot episode in which they briefly explain the name. The premise was that you could go to the better, bigger hospital, or you could go to St. Eligius with its quirky staff and less than elegant surroundings. The latter was lesser, and jokingly referenced as “St. Elsewhere.”
I don’t know about the sainthood of where we traveled, but it was elsewhere.
Western Nebraska and Kansas are rough. For all the jokes about North Dakota, at least we weren’t in a drought. I’ve never felt so heartsick looking out across the driest, bleakest landscape wondering what the ranchers and farmers could possibly do.
Colorado, much like Wyoming, has fooled people who have never been there. Outsiders imagine the whole state to be breathtaking mountains, as if the Fourteeners make up Colorado in its entirety and Wyoming is all Grand Tetons. They don’t seem to realize the very flat and arid eastern plains that push up against those mountains.
In a few places, it appeared as if some rancher had sold his vast pastures to a developer who had plotted them out. People must have spent all of their money to get their little plot of land, leaving them with very little to homestead with. RVs and garden sheds and shacks nearly as ramshackle as I saw in Nicaragua seemed tossed out on the landscape without rhyme or reason. But if you looked, you could make out a grid, a plot system.
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