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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Day Fourteen and Fifteen of Our Lincoln Highway Road Trip

After a good night’s sleep at the Comfort Inn in Dixon, Illinois we were on the road by 7:00 am and heading for Iowa. The two things I had to do today were to forget about the accident with our van and get used to driving the behemoth Ford Expedition. The toughest thing to get used to was getting in and out. You need a step ladder to climb into the driver’s seat. Once on the road it is not too bad to drive, especially on the Interstates. You also have to get used to parking it. Another annoying thins is pulling up to the gas pumps. The vehicle is longer than you think and I have to pull past the pump farther than I am used to get the hose into the filler spout, which does not have a cap. It is designed for the new nozzles and you just insert the gas nozzle into the filler spout.

Iowa is flat and devoid of many trees. There is, however, a lot of corn. As we drove along the Lincoln Highway, Route 30, we saw fields and fields of corn. Some fields were being harvested while others were still waiting for the harvesting machines.

We only had a few miles left in Illinois until we reached the Mississippi River and crossed over into Iowa. But before we crossed we stopped at the Dutch windmill on the banks of the river. This windmill is there because a Dutch fellow with a love of windmills built it. It is a working windmill and one of the workers opened it up and gave us a tour of the interior of the mill. We saw the workings and how it ground the grain into flour. Due to the mills height above the river I was able to get some good shots of the river.

The Iowa DOT does a good job of marking the Lincoln Highway. It was veryDSCN2921 easy to follow the route with the numerous signs along the road. There was nothing really spectacular in Iowa except the section of the original brick paving on the Lincoln Highway and the numerous grain silos.

We reached Carter Lake, Iowa and ended our day of travel across Iowa at the Nebraska border at Omaha and the Missouri River. Much to our chagrin our motel was by the airport and there was a marked lack of restaurants so we went to the local Subway for dinner.

Today we were up early and ready to meet Nebraska. The Lincoln Highway in Nebraska pretty much follows Route 30. The day was clear and warm with a high of 85 degrees. Nebraska has more corn fields than you can imagine. All along the route there are fields of corn, farms and grain silos. It is amazing how much corn is grown here. We were also following the route of the Union Pacific Railroad and we saw at least twenty trains of 80 cars or more containing tank cars loaded with ethanol, corn and coal. Where the coal was coming from I don’t know, but there was plenty of it.

Along the way I stopped by a dealer selling farm machinery and talked with a young man who was fixing a harvesting machine. Los Angeles has their BMW and Mercedes dealers. Nebraska has their John Deere, Case, Massey Ferguson, GMC, and Ford dealers. Almost everyone drives a big pickup truck and I found out that most of the farmers own their farm machinery.

These harvesting machines are like luxury cars. The cabs are air conditionedFXP_9356 and equipped with radios, GPS and other comfort items. A Gleaner harvesting machine runs about $250,000. This is quite a pop for a corn farmer as he also has a $100,000 tractor and several other expensive pieces of equipment. The farms also have a complex of silos to store the grain.

People, especially the elite, laugh at these farmers. Because they do not have a degree from Princeton, Harvard, Yale, or Columbia those who do look down their noses at the people who feed us. These farmers work dawn to dusk seven days a week to plant, fertilize, care for and harvest the grains and beans we buy at the supermarket at the lowest prices in the world. They fight the government, taxes and the weather to give us our daily bread. They are generally conservative, patriotic and good care takers of the land God gave them.

The corn we saw looked like it was dead, but upon closer inspection it wasFXP_9364 not. Most of the corn we saw is used either for cattle feed, corn syrup or ethanol. Corn leads all other crops in value and volume of production. Here are some more interesting facts about corn:

  • Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and Minnesota account for over 50 percent of the corn grown in the U.S.
  • Corn is a major component in many food items like cereals, peanut butter, snack foods and soft drinks.
  • Each year, a single U.S. farmer provides food and fiber for 129 people - 97 in the U.S. and 32 overseas.
  • In the U.S., corn production measures more than 2 times that of any other crop.
  • Over 55% of Iowa's corn goes to foreign markets. The rest is used in other parts of the United States
  • The United States produces 333 million tons of corn each year and the closest competitor is China at 163 million.

As you can see corn is a very important crop in the United States and the farmers of Iowa and Nebraska make a major contribution

Our last stop on the Lincoln Highway was Buffalo Bill’s house in North Platte, NE. Unfortunately the house was closed and we did not get to go inside. The house was built in 1886 and is quite ornate and picturesque.

Our stop for the night was at the Super-8 motel in Ogallala, Nebraska. Tomorrow we will head west through Nebraska and enter into Wyoming.

You can see all of my pictures by clicking here. Don’t forget to click the “Slideshow” button at the upper right to view the largest image.

Till Saturday night.

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