If I have no other impression of the West, it’s that it isn’t the East. There’s a reason most of the population lives on the two coasts and it has to do with water. But more of that later.
When the Spanish found what we easterners call the West, a century or so before the Northern Europeans (forget the Vikings, they only visited), they thought it looked like home. As one who has traveled in Spain, I must agree there are strong similarities, perhaps these days beginning with the windmills.
Many of the place names in the West are Spanish. As are many words in the American lexicon. Rodeo, corral, mesa, ranch, lasso, rio, chaparral, canyon, coyote. Some of the words we think of as Spanish are derivatives of American Indian words…like Ouchita, for example. When the Spanish arrived, they asked the inhabitants who they were and their tribal names became place names.
When I worked in the race and ethnic area of the Census Bureau, I had a coworker, who was irritated by the persistence of the use of Nez Perce to describe her people. Although they no longer pierced their noses, the name the French had given her people had persisted. She told me her tribal name, but I can’t remember it.
Connie reports that as they progress in a southwesterly direction, the country is becoming more and more Spanish. I remind her that it has been thus for over 500 years, and that we have Spanish-American cousins in New Mexico. When they get home I will lend them my copy of William Prescott’s History of the Conquest of Mexico.
They have left the green behind.
So the second thing that hits you after you enter the West is how dry it is. Later today, they will find the major source of water because they are on their way to the Grand Canyon.
Meanwhile,below are the photos from their journey through the Ute reservation. What strikes me are the magnificent land forms.