Dairy Cows, Windmills And Race Cars!

Trip Start Jun 17, 2009
Trip End Jun 19, 2009

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Flag of United States  , Iowa
Saturday, June 20, 2009

While Mom & I got ready for the day, Dad walked up to the drive-in (actually BC Restaurant, not a drive-in anymore) and brought us each a huge homemade caramel roll.  Delicious!!

One of the big topics around town in the past year or so has been the Bauman family’s Hawktree Dairy on the outskirts of town.  This is the first dairy farm in Iowa, and one of only four in the US, to use robotic milkers. The cows walk into the stall on their own and while they leisurely eat the feed that is mixed specifically for them, a robot cleans the udder, attaches the cups and milks the cow.  The computer system measures and monitors each cow's milk output.  When milking is done, one gate opens for the cow to exit while another gate opens for the next cow waiting in line.  We were very fortunate that the local vet was there when we dropped in, so we got the grand tour.  Very impressive operation!

Next on our to-do list was to check out the wind turbines which was another hot topic of local coffee shop talk.  The wind turbine farms in this area, put up by Florida Power & Light, take advantage of the state's flat land and transmission lines.  Iowa is ranked 3rd in the nation in production of wind power with more turbines being constructed.  I lost count of how many semis loaded with turbine blades I passed on the road.  One of my parents' farms missed getting a turbine erected by just a few hundred feet.  The towers are impressive and look like quiet giants marching across the farmland.

Lunchtime took us to Wubben's Bar & Grill located in downtown Woden.  Try to find the restaurant's ingenious advertising in the photo.  Great food and awesome entertainment was provided by Bruce the owner.

We continued on to my second cousin's farm where he's been renovating his parent's old home into a larger, up-to-date house.  No one was at the construction site so we moved on to where his family presently lives, which happens to be the farm where my mother's parents lived.  Still no one home.  We stared in amazement at how much the trees had all grown.  I remember spending time with my grandparents who had a love for nature and cared for the earth by planting trees all around the farm.

Our travels took us on to Titonka, a nearby town of about 580, to visit an old neighbor and friend.  Trivia time -- in the movie Dances With Wolves, the Indians called the buffalo 'titonka' and the name is an actual Sioux word meaning "Big Black" or buffalo.

Late in the afternoon I headed to my long-time friend Anita's place to visit with her and her family.  Once you've moved away from the country where every road is spaced a mile apart and farms disappear over time, the landscape starts to look foreign.  This time, however, I managed to drive right up to the lane without blowing by it.  The family (Anita, husband Steve, son Eric and daughter Jenee) surprised me with an impromptu birthday party complete with cake and presents.  What a treat even though I'd much rather skip this particular birthday.

We all decided to head to nearby Algona for the stock car races.  I was more than game since this would be my first time and what fun it was although my ears were ringing till the next day.  Jenee took great delight whenever the car I picked to win would meet with disaster.  My picks tended to crash into the fence, get swiped by a competitor, lose a wheel, or as in one case, they just drove right off the track.  There was quite the excitement for a little while when a lady seated in front of us spied a high school classmate that turned out to be my second Iowa celebrity sighting.  There in the stands was Dallas Clark of the Indiana Colts.  I grabbed a quick snapshot of him from far away so you'll have to take my word for it.

I finally got to savor my first Walking Taco.  What is that, you say?  When I first heard the name, I envisioned a little tortilla with tennis shoes and wide-brimmed sombrero like a cartoon figure.  Leave it to the ingenious Iowans to come with this  unique food item that is no muss, no fuss.  Open a snack-sized bag of Doritos the long way, crunch up the chips, add a spoonful of taco-seasoned ground beef, some shredded cheese, throw in a fork and voila...Walking Taco - a meal in a bag.

Halfway through the races all kids were invited to take a ride on the school bus.  I was thinking 'why'?  Most of us in the midwest rode a bus daily to school and those that didn't were 'town kids'.  Nevertheless, the bus was crammed full of screaming youngsters and took off down the track.  Now I understood -- the bus rode the track twice and then became the pace car for the next race.  All right, not so weird anymore.

End of a long, but fun, day.
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