The car having been declared fit for travel and after many trips from house to car and a wee bit of rearranging I had to face the fact that it was time to say farewell to my wonderful friends and head out on the road.
The morning was clear, bright and cool. After a quick stop at the store, to stock up on gluten free goodies and get a car charger for my phone, I got on the road.
My chosen route was Hwy 36 out of Boulder and all the way across Kansas. Heading out of Boulder I was confronted with road construction which made this most familiar part of my trip seem foreign but I managed to to get myself on to the right road. For a while outside of Denver 36 and 70 are the same road with a speed limit of 75!. While that does certainly get you there faster 75 is a bit faster than I really like to drive especially with loads of semi's.
Soon enough the turn off for 36 came up and off I went at a pleasant 65 mph feeling much happier and with the cruse control giving me a bit of leeway too look at the surroundings.
When I was younger the flatness and openness of Eastern Colorado and Kansas were not only boring but somewhat frightening. I remember thinking that there was just too much sky.
This time however, I found myself delighting in the small undulations of the rolling grassy hills. I found again my love for abandoned buildings reawakening. At one point I had to stop and turn around to get a picture of an old farm house, grey with empty windows quietly shouting of the past. When I got out of the car the air was sweet and I could hear the birds singing. I wished I had more time, perhaps to go up to the old house and properly photograph her. But the road called and as I had no idea how long it would take me to get to my destination I got back in the car and hurried on.
The lovely loneliness of the smaller highway was wonderful but as time went on and the gas gauge got lower and lower I began to fret a tiny bit.
Cope 5 mi the sign said. Well a town with a sign must have a gas station right? The road curved southward flocks of trees sheltering and protecting the town. "how cute" I thought but quickly the peeling paint flaking away to revel grey wood began to seep into my consciousness. The trees were not just shading but had their limbs wrapped around abandoned houses as if their embrace might hold the town together, bring back the people that were so clearly gone.
I drove through two or three more towns of a similar status. As I passed through each my worry growing as the gauge continued to fall.
Gas Food ---> Ahh yes! I double checked the map it wasn't a big detour and I turned down the road. The tiny town at least seemed a bit more beothail (lively) but as I pulled into the gas station that at least looked like it could be open despite the very old looking pumps I saw a sign saying they were not open on Sundays. I quick relook at the pumps confirmed my first thoughts, no credit card slots.
With that plan B took effect, I would have to return to 70 which would be lined with gas stations and of I trundled down a road with no speed limit sign towards an unseeable oasis in the gas station desert.
Mu dheireadh thall (at long last) a town of decent size came into view and blessedly giant signs advertising not one but two gas stations.
With the car filled I set out again with much less worry. Zipping along 70 smiling I realized that my careful plan to avoid the unknown by staying on the same road from my friends house to my brothers house had completely unraveled and that I was not worried at all about having to eventually wend my way back to my intended course in order to get to the motel in which I'd made a reservation.
Seeing a sign for the Museum of the Prairie I decided to check it out and stretch my legs at the same time. The museum turned out to be mostly the interesting collection of one family but did have some history of the area. I left a business card with them, in case they ever needed to know anything about Gaelic or Highland immigrants and the part they played in the settling of the west. As I drove on I thought of all the Scottish people who had flowed with the tide of settlers out onto the prairies so far from their homeland, whether they had left on their own or been forced out in the clearances, sailing the grass seas in search of a new home and carrying with them the heart memory of the highlands.
here is some music from today's sound track
Caroline has been involved with Gaelic for more than 18 years. She has degrees in Celtic Studies and Gaelic Medium Teaching.