I am a Westerner. I hail from that part of the United States known as the Great Basin. Cool name . . . Great Basin . . . Ahhh ! ! ! Now why is it called the Great Basin? In the 200,000 square miles that make up the Great Basin, there are no rivers that drain to the seas. The Great Basin covers the western half of Utah , most of Nevada, and small parts of Idaho, Oregon, California, and Wyoming. Anyway that's where I'm from. Sagebrush, sand, dry lakes . Rivers you can step across never getting your shoes wet, they're that small, or just dried up. Most of the time colors are muted. Lots of brown. Even more gray. Oh there are times and places where the colors will overwhelm you. Like in spring time, or in the presence of water. Short times, few places.
Then there are the Mountains. Mountains define the Great Basin. Mountains tell you where to go. Mountains tell you how long you've been traveling. Mountains determine where you live, where you work, where you play. In the Great Basin the Mountains are known as "Islands in the Sky", for the fact they contain the greatest amount of life and water. As I mentioned earlier , they are the few places you'll find it in abundance. I recently read where Nevada, with over 300 seperate Mountain ranges , is the most Mountainous state in the USofA! There are 42 named peaks over 11,000 feet. Lastly, (important fact) all those Mountain ranges run in a North-South direction, as do the valleys in between.
I was born in a small Nevada town surrounded by high hills and even higher mountains. I lived in another small Nevada town at 6000 feet above sea level, with the surrounding peaks rising another 2000 feet above our house. While living in Utah (at 4300 feet above sea level) the neighboring Mountains rose a mile and a quarter above our heads. Even when I lived in Southeast Alaska the sea was at our feet, the Mountains firmly against our backsides.
Now I live in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago ! It's flat here. I guesstimate the elevation at, oh 700 feet or so above sea level. Did I mention it is flat? Oh it is green this time of year, lots of trees and such. It rains alot here too, as much as Seattle in fact. There are even real rivers, wide rivers, very wide rivers. Can't hop or step over them, not these rivers, nope, no way. But there are No Mountains! There are these things they call hills, out west the prairie dogs make bigger mounds than what you will find where I live now. IT' IS SO FLAT ! Did I mention it's flat?
Now herein lies my dilemma. I keep getting Lost. Remember how I mentioned that the Mountains in the Great Basin run North to South? Well without the visual clues (cues) that those Moutains gave me as to direction and where I was, I'm totally lost. On overcast days, which are many , just like Seattle again, I have no idea where the points of the compass are. Is that North? No I think it must be East since we just came from...where ? How far have we come / need to go? I'm not sure, I forgot to check the odometer. Do we turn left or right now? I don't know honey, check the map. What map?
Yes I know all about GPS units. How they will tell you every thing a map, compass, and the all knowing spouse can. I know that. I Know That! You must remember, I'm a man, A Western Man. We Know where we are going. I come from a long great line of Western Men, of Pioneers! They made their way west with no GPS. Their maps, if they had any were drawn by hand! They found their way, kept finding their way, through all those years right up to the time I was able to leave the yard. I did it too! And it was all due to those high beautiful Mountains.
Now though I'm Lost. Can't find my way. I try to go for a Sunday drive, I lose my way, and must (shudder) ask for directions. It is humiliating. It's pathetic. It's dehumanizing. I feel, well, emasculated. I ask you, whats a Western man to do? I'm lost in the midwest.
My God It Is So Flat Here ! ! !