Loose Ends: Anywhere but here

Where the heck is Meeker?” It’s a question commonly broached to residents traveling away from home. Residents report that it happens as well in Rifle and Craig. The respondent usually has to pinpoint other locations in the state known by the person asking the question. If the questioner lives in Colorado, the communities closest to I-70 usually suffice as a starting point. Then the questioner begins to ask more questions, usually one after the other, starting with the two words, “Anywhere near…?”
They might launch into a long-winded tale about visiting some of the other places long ago and end it with, “But I never heard of Meeker.” That is unless they are hunters or come from a hunting family. Once they hear a little description that includes Flat Tops Wilderness or large herds of mule deer and elk, they can place this location easily. The key word is anything referring to a landmark of some sort or a ski resort.
The easiest way to keep oneself from making rude remarks about someone’s apparent geographic limitations is to cite the number of miles and specific location as it relates to Glenwood Canyon, Aspen, Steamboat, and Grand Junction. That always seems to brings the White River valley into view. Someone should contact the Today show and suggest that Matt Lauer hide out here for the “Where’s Matt Lauer” segment.
If at the end of playing a quick game of 20 questions, the word Meeker has not come up in the old memory bank, frustration will cause the questioner to bark out, “It is not near anything really, is it?” While the method of listing all the closest places to Meeker do work to help people figure out where the town is located, the recitation seems to jog the memory of driving through town on the way to somewhere else. No matter if it is near or far, the remembrance of a long ago trip is enough to renew their interest and once again they put the town on their mental map with plans to visit.
“Oh, that Meeker,” one woman exclaimed after a particularly complicated conversation. The utterance had no negative overtones (or positive ones for that matter) and her body language conveyed pure relief. Probably like most of us, she was tired of having a circular conversation that led anywhere but here.