We continue the journey west.
We’ve passed past the relatively well-watered mid-continent.
Some fields we see are green. Some fields are fallow.
There are shapes in the fields, shapes dictated by the land, which is gradually rising, gradually losing the flatness of the plains. Hills and streams don’t plow easily.
In some shapes you can see things.
I look at the land so far below.
I see a solitary cloud trailing a solitary shadow.
The land below is drier, less hospitable.
Down there, farming requires huge acres and vast strategies.
Agricultural exigencies impose patterns.
Patterns that are reminiscent of strict abstract impressionism.
Amid the grid of road and field appear the arcs and circles of center-pivot irrigation.
Other patterns appear.
There are oil and gas to be found under the earth.
The traces of their wells and access roads add lines and dots.
My seatmate is a petroleum engineer. I learn from him that fracking and the ability to drill horizontally are two of the great modern breakthroughs in the oil business. I learned a great deal more than just this…one of the pleasures of travel is that you get to meet people who know all kinds of things, and who are willing to share what they know.
There was a big airport in the distance — “I think that’s Denver.”, he said.
Below us, superhighways and suburban tract housing appeared.
Yes, in the distance was Denver…
There was a distant and clouded view of Zebulon Pike’s Peak.
And now come the mountains.
The mountains have risen below us.
There is still snow in the peaks.
Ahead of us lie mountains, basin and range, deserts, more mountains —
— and California.