This day concludes in the city of Brush, Colorado, incorporated in 1884 (or was it 1894), 2.56 square miles in size, and currently at a population of some 5800, up considerably over the last 10 years. We have just returned from a great steak dinner at True Grits on Edison Street. The place is entirely (and quite visibly) given over to the honor of the actor John Wayne. It has been owned by the same woman for the past two decades. Tonight, as is always the case on weeknights, her father acted as the greeter, from thence retiring to the bar and the Broncos-Bears preseason game on TV. He was born on a farm in central Kansas. They didn't have electricity and the summer days and nights were almost unbearable to a kid who didn't like the heat. Grown up, he headed out and came to Brush during the bit of an oil rush they had here in the 50's. He arrived in '54, saw the nighttime temps drop so much from day that you needed a light jacket. By his own testimony, in a tale likely 'oft told, that was enought to sell him. He decided to stay, and has been here ever since. He married, raised, a family, did odd jobs, worked maintenance for almost 30 years at the hospital and now, in retirement, he is the welcoming face and voice of True Grits.
His daughter is not only the owner. She is the waitress. She is not only the waitress. She is the cook. She is not only the cook. She is the bartender. And damn it if she's not really good at every one of those roles. We had the place entirely to ourselves, arriving at 6:30 and leaving about 2 hours later. This made me worry, as she and I had conversed about the high cost of running and maintaining and insuring the place. But lo! As we left a van arrived with a huge, hungry, and young'un-heavy family arriving to do the American deal. You give me food. I give you money. God was arriving with them.
This morning we had risen at Clive, Iowa outside Des Moines, having slept like a forest (never mind a log) following a very long day of travel. We traveled long again today, through unrelenting miles of Iowa corn, and unrelenting dozens of miles of Colorado openness (and an official speed limit of 75 mph). Every state, I keep remarking, is distinct in so many ways. As soon as you cross the line, the very texture of the roadbed changes, as does the sound the tires make rolling on it. And you immediately know: 'Ah! Infrastructure counts here,' or 'Cheap as hell this bunch.' And your tires whine their agreement.
Brush, Colorado is named after an early Lt. Governor of the state of Colorado. He never lived here, but liked to come often to visit 'his town.' But you know what, rather than being his town, I really think Brush truly belongs to the man on the barstool who came long ago from Kansas and stayed, and to his daughter born here, slaving away to make a business work for 20 years and still smiling. She feeds the public as much as they need, and does it again and again. There is some Eucharist in there, let me tell you.
Tomorrow: on through Colorado, through the Rockies, and emerging (one hopes) into Utah.