C & K Oil, Cheyenne Wells, Colo. | For most of us, this is a place where you fill up your vehicle and quickly leave. A three-hour drive west will get you to Pike’s Peak, though tourism is suffering throughout the Rockies, as outsiders who watch the news think everything has burned.
The burn scars, in fact, are few and far between. But the effects of a stretch of drought can be felt for years in little towns such as Cheyenne Wells, population 900, where Karen Pelton has been the “K” at the C & K service station for 20 years.
It rained two-tenths of an inch on Monday night, “about 97 drops,” Pelton says, but otherwise the skies have delivered nothing the past six weeks.
“Little showers like that take the dirt out of the air and make things smell good for a while, but that’s it….
“When had such a warm, dry winter and started getting 100-degree days in April, we started to think this could be serious. We usually don’t start getting those temperatures until late July.”
Sounds like Kansas City, except we’re a time zone away.
Pelton expects the C & K will take in a little business the coming months repairing aging trucks and farm equipment that the locals might have replaced had the season been profitable. Worn tires will be patched, cooling systems refitted, because nothing riding on the streets or fields next year is apt to be new.
The town is now bracing for a bad second half of 2012. If the soil remains dry through September, there may be no point in planting a winter wheat crop, say the longtime farmers who gather for happy hour at the Watering Hole Bar & Grill on U.S. 40.
One says: “Try planting a seed in dust and see what happens.”
|Rick Montgomery, firstname.lastname@example.org.