Friday, October 18, 2013
Seventh Entry of a Long Journey
Its's snowing at the moment here in Rapid City, South Dakota, and my destination is Mount Rushmore. So I'm in a holding pattern and waiting for the weather to clear, which, around here, could be next Spring. Otherwise I'll have to peer at those old geezers with dandruff on their heads and shoulders.
I have been traveling exclusively back roads through the Great Plains and "Farm Belt" for over a week. I have cruised through Western Illinois, Iowa, Southern Minnesota, back into Iowa, then through a sliver of Nebraska, and across South Dakota. The landscape consists mainly of cornfields. The number of fields defies the imagination. I have seen thousands of cornfields holding millions of bushels. Looking like curious baby kangaroos sticking out of their mother's pouch, the corn peeks out and seems ready to be harvested. The leaves are brown and withered and the ears, I am told, are almost dry enough for the giant machines to pick them and then grind up the stalks. I have listened and learned about corn issues, such as genetic engineering, seed planting contracts, price management, and computer generated soil analysis. Signs in front of fields extol the merits of particular seeds. Trucks trudge down the highway taking loads to the silos. Hopper cars snake along railroad tracks in front of grain elevators, giant vertical piggy banks loaded with tiny "yellow gold" coins stored and saved for the right moment.
You might at one time have asked yourself what the need was for all this corn. After all, most of us are only good for eating one cob at a summer barbeque, and quite frankly, even this sweet treat, we are reminded rather indiscreetly, is not particularly well digested. Of course the main uses of corn are sweeteners, animal feed, and fuel. It's value to our diet and society as a whole has been discussed in countless periodicals and I have included one decent article for your review.
My route took me to the Las Vegas of corn or the ultimate in corny, namely the Corn Palace of Mitchell, South Dakota. In the beginning of the last century, a "Mecca of Maize" was built. Sporting events, vaudeville acts, major musical and theatrical entertainers have entertained pilgrims under mosaics of colored kernels. Even the exterior of the building, in a bizarre edible imitation, of European church art, is adorned in multi-colored nuggets. Seeing this laughable homage to the one true Lord in this religious area, namely the "Jolly Green Giant" was only surpassed in humor by the adulation of a Porky-like Pig at my visit to the Hormel "Spam Museum" in Austin, Minnesota.
The sky is clearing and the blue sky is peeking through fluffy clouds. I need to make use of this opening. The "Rock Band Boys" playing at the Rushmore are waiting for me. Can this be taken any more seriously? Tonight I'll be in Wyoming, maybe?