Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Go West, Young Men!

Today marks three weeks since I picked up Sergio in Miami. Our route across America has followed the less traveled roads through the South and the Midwest with a layover in Chicago to visit my relatives and, mixed in between, to see a few important sights. For the past several days we have been crossing what was once the Great Prairie but now, from an ecologist's viewpoint, is sadly the corn and soybean belt We have completed over 3000 miles and are now at the western edge of the Central Time Zone in Pierre, South Dakota.

We are two fellas in a car travelling through towns that are off the interstate and on routes that once were major in the 1950's, These less well paved highways cover the gravel roads of the 40's and 30's, the mud paths of the 20's the wagon ruts made by pioneers almost two centuries earlier and the trading routes of Indians who rode horses or walked on them since the beginning. We look for any indications of  those earlier times in the scenery and are occasionally rewarded with remnants of that past. It is not clear to me exactly why we find the "old" charming or the seeing of a dilapidated barn "exciting" It is just that the newer standard architecture of America is common, uninspirational and can be found globally,

With no particular theme in mind I have selected four photos to share which provide some flavors of from the soup of our journey.

The first picture is of Sergio giving Sue, the Tyrannosaurus rex, at Chicago's Museum of Natural History, an amorous glance. Today we will drive through the Badlands where she roamed 110 million years ago and see some of her friends at the Rapid City Geology Museum.

The second photo is taken from the heights above Winona, Minnesota. Below is Winona Lake and the town. It was built on a sandbar of the Mississippi River (seen in the background) and is protected by dikes (usually) from floods. The Fall colors have just started to come out so we have been lucky in that regard.

Our route has been dotted with fruit and vegetable stands are filled with Halloween decorations and are selling local foods, including jams, jellies, jerkies and pies. This part of the country really does the holiday like no place I have ever experienced. I had to snap this picture of Indian corn and share with the feeling of the season it evokes.

Last of all, Huron, South Dakota, where I took this picture alleges it's the home of the largest pheasant ever shot. I don't know how reliable this is or the statistics. This curious statue has critical importance though. Pheasant hunting season starts this week in South Dakota and it is a giant economic boom for the state. People travel here from all over America to participate. Even I, who jumped the season, shot this one with a camera.

(Special thanks to all those people who have shown us terrific hospitality and opened up their houses to us these past days, including my cousins Ron and Toni Ellis, David and Bonnie Spangler, Stan and Anne Hollenbeck, my dear friends Paul Buscovik and Dave and Mardy Vosbeck.)


  1. Great pics and posts for the day and a great way to start mine!! Thanks for sharing! Hope all continues to go well for you and Sergio!!

  2. I'm sure you've read this before, but I think it's time to read it again. Your post brought this poem to mind before I had finished reading it. Although I don't think you've ever resigned yourself to the fact that any road that tempted you can remain forever "not taken."


    Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
    And sorry I could not travel both
    And be one traveler, long I stood
    And looked down one as far as I could
    To where it bent in the undergrowth;

    Then took the other, as just as fair,
    And having perhaps the better claim,
    Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
    Though as for that the passing there
    Had worn them really about the same,

    And both that morning equally lay
    In leaves no step had trodden black.
    Oh, I kept the first for another day!
    Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
    I doubted if I should ever come back.

    I shall be telling this with a sigh
    Somewhere ages and ages hence:
    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference.

    --Robert Frost