New Mexico

Many folks consider the American west to include lands between Denver and the Mississippi River. Resources like Wikipedia assert that Jesse James was a legendary figure of the Wild West, but Jesse James was from Missouri; everybody knows that's in the mid-west. When business travel took me to St. Louis, MO, I noticed that architecture changes there from cramped eastern high-rises to the sprawling, boxy, facade-ed 1860s storefronts I remember from Colorado and Utah. Hmm. That's interesting.

I grew up in the Wild West. It has mountains so high you can get up a waterhead to generate electricity. It has fiery sunsets, quaking aspen and cold lakes and salt lakes and rocky streams. The Wild West has sagebrush and slickrock and sandstone arches and fascinating geology. There are BLM lands where ranchers graze cattle. There are national parks and forests. The only flat places are the tops of mesas, valleys in the desert, and salinas where it's hard to grow corn. The Wild West is nothing like the mid-west.

I left the west in 1970 and spent the next 39 years homesick for it. Each time I returned to D.C. after a business trip to the west, I was hit with dread as I walked down the jet way into the mid-Atlantic's heat and humidity. Ah, but that's all behind me now.