Like the Windows XP Default Background

Trip Start Jul 31, 2010
Trip End Aug 08, 2010

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Where I stayed
York, Nebrasksa

Flag of United States  , Nebraska
Sunday, August 1, 2010

Galesburg was the birthplace of Carl Sandburg and the home of two colleges.  Nonetheless, it had the feel of a town that is working to overcome.  After eating a too-large breakfast, we hit the road. After a short drive in Illinois, we crossed the beautiful bridge over the Mississippi into Iowa.

Anyone who suggests that Iowa is flat needs to see this part of the country.  US 34 is a limited access highway in the eastern part, rolling up and down across cornfields and farms. We took a detour to Eldon, Iowa, to take our picture in front of the house seen in the background of the famous painting by Grant Wood titled "American Gothic."  I know everyone knows this painting...and there we were, pretending to look as severe as the couple (actually a farmer and his daughter) in the painting.  The house, by the way, is tiny.

After touring the declining city of Ottumwa, Iowa (home of M*A*S*H character Radar O'Reilly) we managed to find the nearby Airpower Museum and Antique Aircraft Airfield.  We nearly missed the museum, tucked into a curve of a country road southwest of Ottumwa.  This little museum offers an unguided tour of WWI era airplanes and mechanics.  The airfield truly looks like the type you see in images of the barnstorming era; it looks like it would be a blast to be an antique aircraft enthusiast.

A construction detour along the way meant that we got stopped by a BNSF coal train.  We were able to get an up close shot of the engineer just crossing the highway.  Halfway through Iowa, the landscape changed subtly.  The trees got shorter and the types became more plains types:  poplars, willows, and so on.  The hills were covered with grass if not covered with corn.  Brianna noted that she saw the place where they took the photo for the default Windows XP background:  you know:  rolling hills, grass and fluffy clouds in a blue sky.

We crossed the Plattesmouth bridge over the Missouri late in the day.  It's a strange bridge, with a tiny toll house on the Nebraska side where a dour old Vet emerges from his booth to collect your $1.25.  The bridge barely accommodated a full size 18 wheeler and us as the same time. 

I noticed that US 34 parallels the Mormon Pioneer Route.  We did see many RVs along the way.   We played our counting cows game.  (You count cows on your side and I count cows on mine.  If you pass a cemetery on your side, you lose your cows.)  We noticed that someone must have a rule about putting cows only on the north side of the highway:  whoever was the passenger had a big advantage.   We couldn't get past 200 cows before we saw a cemetery, anyway.

We stopped in York, Nebraska at a clean but inexpensive trucker motel.  We'll leave early today:  We've got to get to Estes before dark. 

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