"but it looked good to Charlene..."

Trip Start Feb 15, 2010
Trip End Feb 14, 2011

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Where I stayed
The Wal-Mart Parking Lot (classy)

Flag of United States  , Iowa
Monday, February 22, 2010

To begin with...despite my efforts at cramming everything possible into this vehicle there still seems to be room for myself, albeit not much.  I think the guitar was the very large straw that broke the camel's back, or in this case may cause a slight curvature in my spine.  I might have to rethink this one.  It's also rather cold here in Waterloo.  Last night was 2 degrees with a windchill of -20.  I previously thought of the Astro-Start that was already installed in my Explorer as a somewhat unnecessary luxury, but it certainly comes in handy when I wake up in the middle of the night to find I have become a Foxcicle.  After bravely thrusting my hand out from under the bastion of warmth that is my "bed", I can just push a button for twenty minutes of Ford heating.  A waste of fuel, to be sure, but I'd rather be slightly wasteful than found frozen stiff in a Wal-Mart parking lot, but enough about the weather.

Today I visited the John Deere Waterloo Assembly Plant and it was quite a sight.  The tour leaders were veteran employees of the company who had reached retirement age, but stuck around to lead the tours (ours had a voice that was a dead ringer for Dick Van Dyke).  The tours are operated quite efficiently by loading everyone onto seated carts behind, you guessed it, John Deere lawn tractors.  I found it interesting that while most factories of that size have to purchase vehicles to move around their facility and transport various parts, every machine driving someone or hauling something around this plant was green with a bright yellow stripe.

The tour lasted about two hours and took us through the majority of the plant where three different series of tractors are assembled, painted, accessorized, etc, but there was also a good dose of history about the company and talk about how quickly things change.  Also, when the nation called or at times when farming was down the plant has tried its hand at manufacturing everything from tank engines to golf carts.  They are also the only farm implement company that has retained its original name since its humble beginnings with the first steel plow in 1837.  They also mentioned a particular quote from John Deere himself that I think has helped hold the company to a certain standard through the years: "I will never put my name on a product that does not have in it the best
that is in me." 

After leaving the plant, I stopped for lunch at a roadside diner in a blink of a town called Raymond before proceeding to Grundy County, IA.  I did not go down to the Grundy County auction, nor did I see something that I just had to have.  I went that direction because it was in the direction I was headed and I had read there were a number of old barns in the area.  I thought there may be some good photo opportunities in that. 

After navigating the back-roads of Grundy, I continued south to Des Moines where my first stop was the Iowa State Capitol Building.  It was bitterly cold and already dark, but apparently they don't have issues with people showing up after dark to walk around inside their capitol with a large camera.  I also forgot I had a small pocket knife with me upon entering the building, but the security guard assured me it was very common and said I could pick it up on my way out.  The building itself was (fittingly) very stately.  Gold leaf, exotic marble, large paintings, and a monumental dome all added to the splendor.  If you ever find yourself in Des Moines, it's certainly worth a gander.  After leaving I decided to risk frostbite to go around the front of the building and take some shots of it at night.  Hopefully, it was worth the pain that my later thawing fingers endured. 

At the end of the night I was once again greeted by large white letters against a background of blue promising me that I will always save money as long as I'm here...considering the prices of hotels, I'd say it's working.   
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Christy on

Foxcicle? &lt;3 it... and I thought Grundy County sounded familiar, I guess you didn't meet a woman with ruby red lips, blonde hair, and blue eyes either?

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