flats of corn and soybeans turning to gently rolling hills, the kind in racing video games. i never suspected this kind of hill was real. i am used to either Appalachia's irregular, soft mountains, or the horrifying flatness of the Midwest. regularly dispersed gently rolling hills freak me out even more than flat places, it turns out. after the hills was more flatness. after a few days, the rocky mountains came into sight about an hour north and west of denver.
species change. horsetail turned to buckwheat turned to skunkweed.
21 cars in one hour on my last leg of driving in nebraska.
4. john and mary lou, whose farm i camped in. john told me he used to grow kentucky bluegrass in the field i camped next to, "because i thought i would have some really cool-looking hay." john had a bad back and wore a buffalo plaid button up and denim shorts. when i told him i liked learning about plants, he pointed out everything growing in the cover crop in his cattle field.
5. avocado toast. had to.
6. coyotes. heard but not seen, a blessing. freaked me out so much i bolted out of the tent to sleep in the car. later i left the car to sleep in the tent for the better ventilation. when it started raining i got back in the car, muddy from trying to fix the damn rainfly that i set up when i was already half-asleep. lessons.
7. rain. different in a flat place. you hear it from far away and see it rolling in. my fear in the midwest is that anything could be a tornado. would john and mary lou let me shelter in their basement?
8. stars. i smiled up at the big dipper, only constellation i can reliably find but there it was smiling back. anyone want to teach me constellations?
9. peterson's grocery. this mural was on the outside of it so i thought it might be chill. was not. mean af cashier lady stomped wordlessly away from me to do a price check on everything in my order (two string cheeses and the starbucks canned coffee). didn't say a word to me otherwise. while i was standing there, waiting for her to stomp back to the register, a cop walked in and skipped to the front of the line to buy cigarettes. everybody's pal in gothenburg, NE, apparently-- people were calling him out by name; women nearly fanned themselves. his reddened face and wraparound shades made me nauseous.
10. hail and farewell gothenburg. why the f is this no longer streaming on spotify? as i pulled out of gothenburg, nebraska, i waved and shouted the name of the album to john and mary lou, to the mean grocery store cashier, to the juggalo gas station attendant, to deb's diner and everyone inside it.
11. ghost turns.
12. midwest to west to southwest . midwest ends somewhere in nebraska, where corn fields turn to cattle fields and the small towns on the highway decorate themselves with saloon-style facades, rather than drive-thrus. southwest begins south of denver, which means there are latinidad people around, folks have cacti in their yards and you start seeing places selling burritos and tacos.
13. gas station attendants vs cops. for some reason there were cops in 3/5 gas stations i stopped in. the attendants were perhaps obliged to treat the cops with some generosity, or else.
14. magpies. i saw them darting around the highway in the corn fields in nebraska. flash of black and white, like a stark gown.