An impressionistic west-to-east view of the heartland as it passes at 75 mph
By Martin J. Smith
The very best reason to fondly remember Dwight D. Eisenhower is the foresight and vision he displayed by advocating and funding the interstate highway system. But one also wonders if he factored into his initial calculations the ongoing cost and aggravation of maintaining that system.
It’s probably just the silence and isolation of Utah’s desolate red-rock landscape, but it’s easy for your mind to stray to carnal thoughts along that stretch of road.
The late-summer peaches grown in Palisade, Colorado, will make you believe in God.
Denver may be the Mile-High City, but in terms of geography and climate it has way more in common with Abilene, Kansas, than the Rocky Mountains.
A massive grain silo just east of Denver looks like a giant kicked in its side like a tin can, and one passing glance is enough to understand that something enormously powerful and dangerous stalks these plains.
A motorhome towing motorcycles, watercraft, or additional vehicles behind it is probably driven by someone with too much disposable income and attention deficit disorder.
It’s perhaps unfair to psychoanalyze a state by the billboards and commerce at its freeway exits, but let’s just say there’s a strange equilibrium in Missouri between Jesus billboards, adult superstores, fireworks warehouses, and gun vendors.
Sprawling roadside farm-equipment rental yards through Midwest agricultural states are as close to Jurrasic Park as anything you’re likely to see.
Here’s the kind of joke you’re likely to hear on a local Kansas radio station: Two cows are standing in a field, talking about the outbreak of mad cow disease. Cow №1 says, “Don’t you think we should be worried about this?” Cow №2 shakes her head. “It’s a good thing I’m a helicopter.”
Maybe it’s road hallucinations, but I’d swear we crossed the Missouri River twice in an hour.
The number of big-ass windmills in eastern Colorado and western Kansas suggests that someone there is thinking hard about alternative energy sources and the choices this country needs to make for a more secure future. Either that, or the region is home to one hell of a windmill salesman.
States that do not offer a single, distinctive design for their license plates, and instead offer a confusing array of optional specialty designs, should be forcibly removed from the Union.
Russell, Kansas, may have slightly overestimated public demand to tour the boyhood home of Bob Dole.
Kansas is way too wide.
It’s not hard to imagine that the remarkably heavy truck traffic through Kansas and Missouri involves the transport of porn DVDs, vibrating dildos, and assorted sex toys to Passion’s and the many other poorly punctuated adult superstores along I-70 as it traverses the Bible Belt.
Nowhere can be somewhere with just the right marketing, including a single exit in otherwise undistinguished Casey, Illinois, which boasts both the world’s largest wind chime and the world’s largest golf tee.
In many parts of the country, “camo” is a perfectly acceptable color for a motor vehicle.
The posted speed limit invariably decreases as I-70 gets closer to metro areas, but the speed of actual traffic increases in those same areas, where a cautious 55 in theory consistently translates to reckless, bumper-to-bumper 80 on the road.
This country should have more state border towns with hybrid names such as Kanorado. Some suggestions: Utarado, Indiahio, and West Virgylvania.
National Public Radio and local public radio stations across the country, including High Plains Public Radio, are one of the few things keeping America from descending into generalized savagery and possible cannibalism.
Martin J. Smith is a journalist, editor, essayist, and novelist based in Granby, Colorado. You can read more about him, his novels, and his nonfiction books at www.martinjsmith.com, and sign up for his occasional newsletter at www.martinjsmith.com/newsletter. His latest crime novel, “Combustion,” (Diversion Books) was published Sept. 27, 2016, and can be ordered from your local bookstore and online retailers through www.martinjsmith.com/books.