June 21, 2005

Commerce of the Prairie

Nicole of Plastic Daisies takes a clear-eyed look at camping in southeastern Colorado

Wanting to escape from our original escape (follow that?), we again load up the car for a short day trip to Lamar where a General Electric windmill farm is located. I throw my headphones on and rock some Gillian Welch, because songs about the sad nature of a worn-down, dreary farm life is a perfect soundtrack for driving through a sad, worn-down, dreary farm town: rotten fences surrounding grazing livestock, boarded-up windows adorning deserted buildings, badly faded paint flecking from wooden houses and shops. Beyond this struggling town, past miles of fields speckled with cattle and sheep are clusters of brand new windmills rotating in sync, harnessing energy from the unending wind.

The colonial Spanish considered that area to be part of El Cuartelejo, the Far (with a connotation of empty) Quarter. My students on Southern Colorado magazine call it "the forgotten Colorado" and they go there on wild-goose chases.

Some Kansans keep the name alive, but they could do more for Juan de Padilla. A highway rest area maybe?

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