Around the big yellow truck endless wheat fields streamed past, a relentlessly flat sea of grain that stretched into the distance, where it eventually touched an equally featureless perfect blue sky. The scenery was the same no matter the direction, except for straight ahead, where the grey road cut westward through the golden plain toward a dark smudge on the highway. The engine droned on as consistently as the scenery.
After some time, the boy bounced excitedly on the bench beside his father.
“What’s that? Clouds?” he asked his father, pointing through the windscreen.
“Mountains,” said his father after a moment of screwing up his eyes and squinting into the distance, “the Rocky Mountains.”
The boy stopped bouncing for a moment, settling down with a puzzled look on his face. He’d been expecting to see mountains for two days – ever since Dad had mentioned them on the first day in fact. That grey smudge against the horizon was mountains? They weren’t very big. They were in fact much smaller than he had been led to believe.
“Not very big then, are they.” he said.
His father laughed. This was a good sound. Much better than the empty sound of the trucks engine pulling them across the prairies.
“They’re really far away. We won’t reach them till tomorrow. Possibly not even till the day after, in fact.”
The boys eyes widened in genuine surprise. He was pretty good at math, and figured out that they were a very long way from the mountains if they going to take that long to get there. They must be miles high! He said so.
“Yes, actually. Some of them are more than three miles high. So high that there’s always snow on some of them, even in summer.” said his father.
This impressed the boy. Snow even in the summer! Somehow, the boy had it in his head that their house would be up on top of a mountain, so he was imagining building snowmen while still wearing shorts, truly the best of both worlds.
He cast his memory back to last summer, when it was so hot in the city that his mother wouldn’t let him go outside to play on a few of the hotter days. And for most of it, the air was full of brown smog. His father had explained that fog was pollution from cars and factories and the airport, but had also told him that there wasn’t any smog in the mountains out west. The air was clean and the water was clean and everything was much better than in the city.
Snow in august, snowmen and shorts. Everything really would be better out West.