“You have to know how to look at this country. You have to slow down. It isn’t pretty, but it’s beautiful.”
No other quote has captured my feelings about my former home, Eastern Colorado, quite so clearly. It’s a landscape that made my stomach drop upon seeing it the first time. I was terrified of the life I was about to take on. There was literally nothing but land for mile upon mile. There aren’t stores or restaurants, no bookstores or libraries, especially in the area around Last Chance, Colorado. I don’t think many people in America can even imagine the level of rural this area boasts. Yet it is responsible for creating some of the best memories of my life. When there are no distractions around, people find time for what is truly important – other people. I formed some of my most cherished relationships in the humble places captured in these photographs.
When I read Kent Haruf’s book Our Souls at Night, I discovered all of his books are set in the area I lived in for five years before returning back to Texas. Upon further digging through his backlist, I came across this wonderful picture book of rural locations. Many photos were taken in Eastern Colorado or Texas, created by Haruf and his friend Peter T. Brown. When I saw the book cover, my stomach did a flip flop, the feeling of stumbling on a crazy coincidence. How could this book have been published before I even moved to this area, yet I’d never heard of it? A book that mentions an area I had to drive through to get to almost anywhere civilized. Last Chance, Colorado was 10 miles from my first home, the most rural of the three places I lived in Eastern Colorado. It was named Last Chance because it once was the last place to get gas for more than fifty miles in any direction. When I moved to Lindon, Colorado in 2008, Last Chance didn’t even have a gas station. Its name is no longer applicable, in fact, its name may only make you feel hopeless if you’re expecting to find a bite to eat or place to stretch your legs. There is a Port-a-Potty on the side of the road for travelers who anxiously await a bathroom break and a run-down, long-forgotten restaurant. I’ve explored this ghost town multiple times when I was actively pursuing a photography business, and the only signs of those last chance places are literal signs – old gas station signs parked behind a dilapidated old motel.
When I think about these places, I can see them vividly in my mind as if I’m still there. I long for the slow lifestyle I once knew and sometimes hated. Time feels as if it goes at warp speed everywhere else, as if I’m constantly on the clock to do more. In Eastern Colorado, time is all but irrelevant. In many ways, this area hasn’t changed in a hundred years. The past blends with the future and it’s easy to imagine a horse and buggy being pulled across the prairie. In fact, there is a place in particular where the old wagon road toward the Front Range that passed through the land can still be seen today.
Peter T. Brown and Kent Haruf captured the feelings and uniqueness of an area that I love more than just about any other place in the world. This land changed me in a pivotal way, in a way I can’t describe to anyone who hasn’t experienced it firsthand. However, this book comes close to telling the story. Though there are some inconsistencies – a few pictures are mislabeled with incorrect locations and some of the areas photographed are actually East of Last Chance, this book is a treasure I’m happy to own. If only for the sake of posterity. When I desire the simple life once more, I can easily flip through these pages to find familiar locations I’ve come to long for. I’m able to capture that feeling of peace, however how fleeting it might be.
Purchase your own copy on Amazon.
Below are some of my own photographs from my many explorations around Last Chance and Lindon, Colorado.
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram| BlogLovin’
5 Comments Add yours
These photos are stunning. I don’t think many Americans or tourists ever get off of I-70 to really see much of that area, specifically Colorado, at all. Every time we’ve gone there we’ve done detours and ended up in the loneliest, most remote places I’ve ever encountered in all of America. Well, Nevada has some of those as well. Still… it’s gorgeous. So.Much.Land.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you so much for checking out my post. This one is really special to me. It is terribly lonely, especially just passing through. Living out there taught me to really see the beauty of it and it’s actually one of the places I felt most loved. Some of the greatest people I’ve ever met make up the little homesteads out there.
And you’re right. I think a lot of people pass through and just think it’s terribly boring. That’s sure how I felt about those stretches of Nevada. haha! 😀