This post is a hodge podge of thoughts, observations and a story collected as I explored and drove through the smaller towns of the mountain west.
Small town travels... Down towns are mostly empty stores. The new developments on the edge of town on the bypass road have replaced those downtown stores. Wal-Mart was never downtown and located its stores along that bypass corridor. Now it replaces its smaller older stores with a new SuperCenter. The old store location is now empty. Kind of like the vacant stores downtown.
Of course this has been going on for 150 years. A natural harbor favored one town over another. Location of railroad routes caused some river towns to die. The location of freeways of the 1950s and cheap fuel doomed many small towns along the old two lane US highways -- and the once prosperous railroad towns. As diesel railroad engines replaced steam locomotives, many towns along the rail route died. The trains didn't have to stop as often for refueling. Building downtown bypasses doomed the century old downtown to vacant buildings. With the advent of big box retailers, the process continues.
What happens when there are only big box retailers to choose from. Wal-mart, Best Buy, Home Depot. Do they have to be concerned with competing when they are the only place where you can buy a specific product. Just wondering.
Everybody has a story... The elderly docent at an unnamed museum in an unnamed town was so happy to be single. Been single for nine years after her husband died. After fifty miserable years with the guy, he got cancer and died. She said that once he knew he was going to die, he was a very pleasant person. Wondered why he could not have been that way for the previous 50 years.
Diesel and Silver Slug Maintenance... Last spring as I was heading north through Arizona from Tucson, diesel prices were over four dollars a gallon. When I left the Cottonwood Arizona area, the last fill up was at $4.25. At that time I considered making the journey to South Dakota via airplane to renew my drivers license. Since I don't want to go through the flying experience again, I decided to continue the road trip. Here in Loveland two days ago, I filled up for $3.64 a gallon. This morning the posted price was $3.55 a gallon.
Why have fuel prices continued this downward trend when earlier this year, the prognosis was that price of diesel would be $5 a gallon. Could it be all that cheap oil found in the shale in Canada. Could it be the unemployed are not driving. Trucking and railroads are not using as much because demand for product is down. Don't know. Just wondering.
The driving trip to South Dakota was not cheap. Seems every town I went through I left money at the local Ford dealership for another maintenance issue for Silver Slug. It's my version of supporting local economies as I travel. Hoping Silver Slug can hold out till 2013 for the next maintance expense.
Speaking of fuel and natural segue is to ethanol... Who will win the battle for the limited and expensive corn crop of 2012. Is the corn more valuable as ethanol or as food for people and animals. Should prove interesting. Just be prepared for more expensive foods.
Friday afternoon scene at Boyd State Park... The weekenders are arriving with boats and jet skis in tow. Tents are erected. Many times two to a space. Couple of cars. Every campground space is occupied. In the evening the camp fires glow in all directions. It sure isn't to keep anyone warm since the temps were in the high 70s. Okay. So I am curmudgeon. I know it is for the kids to roast marshmallows. It's a tradition for the camping experience. With all those campfires, it smelled like a forest fire. That meant there were no windows open to enjoy the night time cooler temps.
Then there is some stuff you just can't make up....
Small town Nebraska Chinese restaurant marque advertises chicken fried steak.
A car wash marque advertises "improved soap".
In spite of what may sound like rants and a bad attitude, life is great.