As we drove through the western Texas Panhandle, my Foursquare app listed a couple of the nearest “locations” as “the middle of nowhere.” He didn’t have an app to express it, but Coronado felt the same way over 450 years ago.
Once you pass Amarillo west-bound on I-40, you’ll encounter the same thing that baffled the conquistador – an endless sea of grass larger than New England (source).
In the Coronado wrote, “I reached some plains so vast, that I did not find their limit anywhere I went, although I traveled them for more than 300 leagues…with no more landmarks than if we had been swallowed up by the sea.”
Except for the occasional pump jack, windmills or structure the view of the Llano Estacado from your car is likely much like what Coronado encountered in 1541.
Some say that Coronado called it “Llano Estacado” meaning “Palisaded Plain.” Though there is debate as where the name truly came from, this one is believable once you catch sight of the plains edges.
The grassland sits like high like a tabletop surrounded by steep, jagged rocks. In the distance it looks a lot like a massive fortress stretching for miles.
The vista of endless grass is impressive, but after a while you start to wonder when the grass will ever end. I like to think that Coronado was wondering the same thing.