This election cycle has exhausted and drained me. I’m not talking about the results, but rather how divided we are right now and how a large group of people were always going to end up feeling disenfranchised and angry, regardless of the outcome.
Wednesday morning I decided that I needed to go somewhere peaceful and far, far away from the maddening news cycle. My sister is visiting, so we decided on a trip to the Pawnee National Grassland which is, according to Wikipedia, “an especially depopulated area of the Great Plains.” That sounded like the perfect day trip.
The grasslands are in the northeast corner of Colorado—about an hour and a half away from Fort Collins. There are some interesting buttes in the eastern portion of the grasslands, but we didn’t visit them this trip. We mostly walked and drove through the western portion which seems to be a birding area. Most of the birds are gone now, but I plan to return in the late spring to take a look at the beginning of the yearly cycle.
Before heading out, we stopped at the Briggsdale Market, above, for water and a snack. The whole town has dirt roads, and it took a little bit of driving around to even find the shopping district (both stores!).
We just wanted to walk along and enjoy the warmth of the sun and the gentle breeze. We traipsed along this road for a mile or two enjoying the empty vistas:
Every barbed wire fence comes with complementary tumbleweeds and tattered plastic bags:
There were clouds of dust visible off in the distance as trucks went on their noisy way along gravel roads. They were far enough from us that they didn’t affect the serenity of the moment; the only evidence of their passing were those clouds of dust.
It was scenic, rustic, and ever so peaceful. The only sounds we heard were the lowing of cattle and the breeze rattling the dried grasses:
We drove into the campground which has a picnic area and hiking trails. There also was a small display of antique farming equipment which the settlers used to plow the prairie under for crops:
It’s a hard life farming out on the eastern plains—the weather is a fickle mistress. Snow is the most reliable form of moisture, which isn’t all that useful except for winter wheat.
However, the blue skies were incredible:
The last trail we walked wended through a grove planted in honor of a Colorado State University governing board member. She must have loved cottonwood trees and birds:
I don’t know if you can see it, but in the rightmost picture there is a tiny pumpkin near the tree. I don’t know why the critters haven’t eaten it yet.
Seriously, I could have sat looking at the sky all day:
The gnarly trees also have their own stories to tell of endurance and success. Every year the new leaves signal that another year was conquered and life continues. That was a message of natural renewal that felt reassuring.
As the sun was heading towards the west, it felt like mission accomplished and time to head back home:
No matter how hazy the future may be, I felt my spirit lifted by the music of nature and the blue, blue skies.