We’ve recently returned from a three-week road trip to visit family and explore new places. We experienced sun and heat, smoke-filled days and nights, a full moon, and a sky filled with countless stars. We traveled through miles of corn, soybeans, sunflowers, grasslands, badlands, prairies, mountains, and black hills. The diversity and beauty of our country is truly amazing.
On our return to Minnesota we stayed one night at Lake Shetek State Park in the southwestern part of the state. As we explored the park and lake we walked across a causeway connecting the lake shoreline to Loon Island. The causeway was constructed as part of a WPA program. Earlier in the day I had seen a family swimming and relaxing at the end of the causeway. But as I walked again in the calm of late evening my attention was drawn to these rocks that extended from the sandy beach into the lake. Their pattern seemed to be welcoming me back to the land of 10,000 lakes and asking me to come along, follow each one, into the coolness of the lake.
We took a road trip from Minnesota to Utah a few weeks ago — a journey filled with adventures, family, and changing scenery and weather. We went from the agriculture of southern Minnesota to the Black Hills of South Dakota, to the Sandhills of Nebraska, to the open ranches of Wyoming, to the snow capped mountains of Utah. The variety of landscapes always amazes me, especially when you condense the journey over a few days. Many of the areas were unusually green because of the higher amounts of rain that have fallen. Fields and hills were looking quite lush, except for those areas (especially in Nebraska) that are still trying to recover from flooding earlier this year. Surprisingly we encountered little rain during our trip, but we did endure 40-45 mph winds across Wyoming, and we slept a few times with the furnace on and a couple of times with the air conditioner on. A quick trip such as this makes me appreciate the beauty and diversity of our country; how fortunate to be able to take it all in!
We just returned from a road trip to Salt Lake City and back, something we haven’t done in a long while. And one of the things I loved was watching the change of landscape and scenery as the miles went by. We began in agriculture land with acres of corn and soybeans, and some sunflowers thrown in too. That landscape changed to rolling hills, then to the badlands of South Dakota. Into Wyoming we saw pasture lands with cattle and sheep, along with antelope, deer, and coyote. And then we were in the mountains of Utah, mostly shrouded from the smoke of the nearby forest fires.
During both directions of our trip we got to watch the development of weather fronts. When the landscape stretches out before you, behind you, and around you it gives you a chance to see the blue (or hazy) skies change to white clouds to billowing thunderstorms to darkness and rain, and then back to clearing skies. I’ll gladly take a road trip any day over a plane flight that picks you up from one landscape and drops you into another without the benefit of all the miles and scenery in between.
I made a quick trip on Interstate 35 this weekend. Driving home I compiled some short observations from the journey:
1. Exit 22 in Minnesota is for the towns of Hartland and Geneva. The exit sign going south lists them as Geneva Hartland. That will be my pen name if I’m ever in need of one!
2. This heartland area was glowing in the late afternoon light. The soybeans are yellowing, the corn is drying, and with a bit of a haze in the air the area was beautiful. I’m thankful for all the food this country produces.
3. The red lights on each of the wind turbines all blink off and on at the same time.
4. It’s an eerie sight to see combines working in the dark in the fields.
5. It’s disconcerting to hear bugs splatting on the windshield right after dusk, especially so many bugs!
6. Sometimes luck is on your side, but you have to recognize it and act on it. I made a quick stop for gas and food at Clear Lake, Iowa (home of the Surf Ballroom – the location of the last show by Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper in 1959). As I looked down the road I saw the potential for a beautiful sunset. With my GPS I could follow just the right roads to the lake and found a beautiful park with sand beaches and a perfect view to the quickening sunset. Many of the people who were out walking, biking, and/or fishing stopped to take in this sunset. It was worth the extra 30 minutes out of my drive to enjoy this bit of beauty.
7. Family is worth 16 hours on the road!