I pass several herds of cattle, sometimes standing in the road or very close, and I can’t help but lean out the window and holler “Moooo!”. This is the high plains of Colorado, a sweeping, treeless expanse of rolling hills and prairie grass, broken only by scars of dry river beds. To the north the landscape is painted with tall towers of white windmills, rotating silently and reminding me of the century I live in. If it weren’t for the blur of windmill blades and bob of an occasional oil pump, one could almost imagine a tribe of Pawnee Indian braves, riding across the plains with bows drawn, chasing a herd of buffalo.
There are no Indians roaming the prairie anymore (or herds of buffalo, for that matter), but a section of this land is set aside for future generations to see. The Pawnee National Grasslands is packed with early American history and a diverse multitude of wildlife. Spring or Fall is the best time to visit. It is not the mountains or forests, certainly not lakes or meadows or canyons, but it has a beauty of its own.
I am camped high on a hill, near the trailhead and picnic area for the Pawnee Bluffs. It has been hot in the afternoon, but a steady breeze and a little spritzing keeps the camp bearable. It is always windy here – even throughout the night – and is undoubtedly the reason for the wind farm to the north. I’m not sure how many wind turbines there are, but one person I talked with said they stretch all the way to Nebraska.
I receive several TV stations and get partial internet, so at least my nights are semi-filled with entertainment. As the sun goes down and night settled over the prairie, the windmill tower lights all twinkle like a Christmas display. Off in the distance to the south, several oil wells have pipes that spew out flames twenty-four hours a day. Combine the lights and the flames with a dark, star-filled sky, and I get quite a show each night.
My plan is to stay put through the holiday and then move on north. There are a couple of hikes out to the bluffs, and a little motorcycle exploring to keep me busy, or as busy as I want to be.