Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sunlight of a Cheyenne autumn morning

Driving my daughter Annie along I-25 this morning to visit a friend. She commented that she liked this part of the morning, about 9 a.m. The way the light looks and feels, the way it lights up the prairie. I had to admit that it was a beautiful November morning. Great light for an artist. Wispy horsetail clouds lit up on the eastern horizon. Even the gray Wyoming steppes looked brighter.

As I drove home alone, I paid more attention to the light. On top of the College Drive overpass, I saw a UP train traveling east, its dozens of white freight cars lit up by the sun. I wondered if it was a coal train. How funny that a coal train chugs east under the bright blades of Cheyenne's wind farm just west of the hulking white Wal-Mart distribution center. Between the rail line and the wind farm, I-80 stretches out, trucks pulling uphill toward the Laramie Range Summit and some all the way to San Francisco. Eastbound truckers are damn happy to be out of the mountains and Wyoming's crappy late-autumn weather and wild winds.

Not sure why autumn's morning light made me think of energy and transportation. But the College Drive overpass on top of I-25 gave me a great view of Cheyenne's reasons for being. Highway crossroads. Railroads. Wind farm to the west and Frontier Refinery to the east. If I look hard enough, I can see a few pumping oil wells out in the county. Up north is F.E. Warren A.F.B. and its many nukes. Guess you could call this an energy issue, although Warren's nukes are wrapped up in strategic metal and pointed at targets in the former Soviet Union. Odd to think that the former Commie powerhouse may now be a bigger threat as an energy-producing giant than it was as a Cold War "We Will Bury You" opponent.

Are nukes one of the solutions to the energy crisis? Right now, uranium is being mined again in northeast and central Wyoming. An in-state nuke plant could be in our future.

Deep thoughts on the day before Thanksgiving. Autumn's morning light shines on the present, provides clues to a possible future which often doesn't look so bright.

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