Monday, August 24, 2009

Observations from CL

We are leaving Denver this morning headed home and have 4 days of driving ahead of us. I don’t know whether or not we will have time to get more pictures posted before we get home. We’ve had a really wonderful time, have seen lots of beautiful scenery, and are very glad we decided to make the trip.

Here are some observations I’ve made that don’t have pictures to accompany them:

The first thing we noticed when we crossed into Ohio was the size of the trucks. Most of the major carriers were using triple trailers rather than tandems and flatbeds that were larger than anything we have ever seen before. Apparently this is only allowed in Ohio because we haven’t seen trucks that size since. Sharing the road with a plentitude of large trucks is interesting, to say the least. Another traffic observation is that speed limits in the west are just a suggestion! Despite the fact that the posted speed limit in many states is 75 mph, if you travel that slowly, you will be run off the road.

I have been very aware of the changes in topography as we have crossed the country. As we were driving north from the North Platte River Valley into South Dakota, I noticed that we would have fairly flat fields followed by rolling hills followed by flatland followed by more hills. I can’t believe how far you can see in all directions as you drive along. The sky just seems so big and blue here. The air is much clearer than at home (at least until we got to Denver). It has been very interesting to note the changes and to just revel in the beauty of all that I see. That said, I can’t imagine living on a ranch on the prairie of Wyoming where the temperature reaches minus 30 or lower during the winter and the roads have gates closing them during bad weather.

We have found that the people in the Midwest are very friendly and courteous. Everyone seems to be easy going. As an example, we ate in a “local” restaurant in western NE and when we got there we were seated next to a table of 14. We think they had already ordered by the time we got there. The waitress started serving their entrees before we got ours. She was bringing them out one at a time and there was a mix-up with just about every order—either the type of potato or the doneness of the steak. The last person was served as we finished eating our dinners. Throughout this whole ordeal, no one complained. They all just took it in stride and we even heard one man crack a joke about it. I just sat there thinking about the furor that sort of service would invoke back home.

I am very conscious of food and serving sizes. In Iowa we were each served a plate of food that would easily fed both of us. However, as we have moved through “cattle country” (NE, SD, CO) the serving sizes have been much more reasonable. We have eaten some very good steaks, and most restaurants offer 8 or 10-ounce portions. This is still too much but not as bad as a 16-oz. portion. One thing I am sure of is that exercise is going to increase and food servings are going to decrease when we get home. I’ve been trying to eat wisely, but it is very hard to do so in restaurants.

Lastly, we were talking to someone in Wyoming whose mother is a high school teacher. She recently moved from a school system in western Nebraska where there is “somewhat of a drug problem” to one in Wyoming where she discovered she was expected to give detentions to students for chewing gum in class. She could not believe that was appropriate. I just wish that my most pressing discipline concern while I was teaching had been students chewing gum in class! It is truly a different world here!

1 comment:

  1. I met a guy who was the superintendent of schools in Casper, Wyoming, in the summer of 1974 at a workshop in Colorado Springs. He told me that the biggest problem they had were teenagers who brought their rifles and shotguns to school during hunting season. They provided a secured room in each high school for the "checking of weapons".

    That has probably changed in recent years. But who knows?