Sunday, July 21, 2013

From Colorado to South Carolina and Back, Part 2

It looks as if these photo essays might go so far as a Part 3 or Part 4 if I’m to include all of the better shots my daughter took along the journey. If nothing else, though, I have to include these. These photos from the road to I-70 out of Colorado take us through the setting for Act One of Grace Among the Dead, the second book in The Saga of the Dead Silencer following Bleeding Kansas

This is what Monday morning looks like outside of Falcon, CO,
the last of the railroad watering towns outside of Colorado Springs.
These towns were meant to supply the trains with water until
they got to the retired Col. Palmer’s little health-resort scam in the
foothills beneath Pikes Peak.
Most people think of mountains when they think of Colorado but the eastern third of the state is rolling plains and ranch country. After a while you don’t even see the mountains. It’s a lonely, desolate country with a beauty you have to be a bit lonely and desolate yourself to appreciate. 

Like the mountains, though, the play of light will reveal surprising details and moods you never thought to see. The photos here were taken on a gray, unsettled July morning, and the country reflects the mood of the sky. We returned in bright sunshine, and these same empty landscapes sulking beneath heavy skies were exuberant with promises of space and freedom. 
I imagine dead former residents collecting against this cattle
fence and eventually making themselves fall over it should
they sight living meat on the other side.

The photos in this post were taken on our ride east-northeast along US 24 towards the I-70 interchange in Limon. It takes two and a half hours to get out of Colorado into Kansas. A good half of this time is spent on US 24, passing through the vast, empty ranch country and the old railroad watering towns along the way. 

Fun facts: each town is precisely ten miles apart, as that was the optimal distance old steam locomotives could travel until they needed water for their boilers. Also, because of railroad or post office rules regarding signage for the towns, the town names could be no more than six letters each. Hence, Falcon, Peyton, Calhan (named for a guy named Calahan), Ramah, and Limon. The only exception is Matheson—as it’s just outside of Limon, it’s outside the every-ten-mile rule as well.

They could be lurking at the feed store.
All of these towns are potential speed traps but perhaps the most notorious one is Calhan, which, given its relative size and density of population, can’t be blamed for wanting people to slow down through it. My daughter took a few pictures but none of them fit the general theme here. They’re not all that great on their own, either. 

All you see here is where I’d rather be. That is, if I can’t get back to the Dark Corner of South Carolina right away. This is certainly a good place to be as the zombie apocalypse becomes the New Normal, but you have to be careful—it doesn’t take long for the local undead population to gang up into an unmanageable number, especially if they’ve all already set out to find you, following the noise of your vehicle or your gun. Remember, the walking dead don’t have to stop and rest. They’ve got all day and all night to come for you.

“They’re coming to get you, Barbara!” Eventually. Give ‘em time. It’s a mess o’ country out here.

I imagine these fences going down a lot more easily, especially given the relative density of population.

My second favorite photo of the bunch. Such beautiful emptiness! Of course, you have to be a hardcore misanthropist like myself to truly appreciate this scene, let alone the kind of zombie fiction I write.

I imagine this is what it looked like while Derek Grace was holed up at Hidden Farm, except he had a better screen of trees growing up along the drainage and irrigation ditches outside the farmhouse.

This is exactly what the dirt road and the house look like to me in Chapter 5 of GRACE AMONG THE DEAD.

My favorite photo of the bunch. I love how the strata angles over the rise and behind the water tower. I’m reminded of Joe Mugnaini’s cover for Ray Bradbury’s 1973 paperback edition of The October Country.