Monday, 27 April 2015

Across Nebraska, Into Iowa, Illinois and Indiana

With growing corn and producing corn products as its major industry, Nebraska is known as “The Cornhusker State”.  It is also one of America’s largest beef processors.  The scenery satisfied my inner farmer with  fields being planted, rustic barns and farmhouses in the Cupola style,  grassy hillsides and a few wide, swollen rivers where Willows glowed golden in their spring finery.  Some of the wind turbines we passed  appeared to be growing in the backyards of homesteads.  One roadside attraction boasted a windmill sculpture which was a single blade mounted vertically on a stand. (But is it art?)  Transport trucks passed us   carrying wind turbine blades and sections of the standards that support them which makes one realize how gigantic they are.   We passed a gorgeous modern glass church; sorry, photo is out of focus; followed by a geodesic dome.  Eugene T. Maloney State Park was a great place to spend the night or a week if you have the time.  With a lake, pond, many treed campsites, walking and hiking paths, a memorial garden and greenhouse and stable of horses; visitors can keep active.  There is also a lodge with restaurant on the property.  And the Air and Space Museum is right next door!   We had an entire section of the park to ourselves with the spring blossoms out everywhere but very few campers.








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We travelled some more country miles in the morning before coming to a crazy bridge featuring four sixty-foot high metal sculptures.  The bridge in the city of Council Bluffs is heralded as the “Gateway to Iowa”. The artist, Albert Paley, designed the sculptures to represent the relationship between land, air, light and water.  His use of three metals: corten steel, bronze and brushed stainless steel provide the work with three distinct textures and colours: green, rust and silver.  Also near town were a couple of funky water towers, one ‘Tiffin’, which happens to be the company who built our motor home and another designed to look like a coffee pot!  The state welcome center paid tribute to authors and writing with poetry etched in glass at each of twelve picnic tables.  We drove by “The World’s Largest Truck Stop” where we assumed they had the world’s most pots of bad coffee.  When we reached Interstate RV Park, near Davenport, we were assigned a great site at the end of the park with our own grass patio and views out over a sod-farm field.  We sat there with Dixie watching a couple of cottontails and a cute ground squirrel, until well after sunset.

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Our main destination near Davenport, was to visit The Antique Archaeology Shops in LeClaire, Iowa.  Chris and I have watched The American Pickers Mike, Frank and cohort Dani since the show’s inception on History TV.  The show explores the travels of the pickers across America where they meet a raft of intriguing folks and sift through an array of Americana looking for “Rusty Gold”.  The shop in LeClaire is their first and they also have a new one in Nashville.  Unlike a traditional antique store, the merchandise focuses on bikes, motorcycles, lamps, signs and weird and unusual items.  We really enjoyed our visit there and the town along the great Mississippi River has great architecture, shops and restaurants.  The town is also the birthplace of Buffalo Bill and has a museum honoring him as well as a couple of riverboats that cater to tourists in the summer months.  We spent another night enjoying our peaceful grassy campsite and headed further East again in the morning.



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In the morning, we drove across the Mississippi River where Iowa is on the West side and Illinois on the East.  As well as the time change, we knew we were in the East when raccoons and opossums were added to the road kill beside the highways.  We were pacified by the country landscapes in Indiana after fighting traffic and construction near the big cities like Portage and Joliet south of Chicago.  We crossed into Indiana by afternoon and a couple of hours later, were settling in at Elkhart Campground for a week-long stay.  To prevent blog readers from tearing their hair out upon seeing yet one more farm image, I decided to play with all the options in Picassa.





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Elkhart is a pleasant small town that is a draw for RVers with its many businesses focused on RV furniture, flooring, lighting, wrapping, manufacturing and retrofitting as well as a great RV Museum.  The surrounding countryside is farmed by the Amish where we visited a carpenter and perused his wares.  We have lived in our motor home for four years now and are ready to do some painting and small changes to make it more personal.  Other than one sunny day, our week was cold and windy but we were able to take Dixie for a few woodsy walks each day, get organized to head back to Ontario and decompress from the many days of driving.  Travelling into Michigan, April 26, we had a sunny, relaxing trip up to Canada.







                                                         Friends and foe on the highways of travel.

We had a wonderful, problem-free trip this year! The weather was generally much cooler than the past three years but we were able to visit so much new territory.  Our life style is possible only because of the huge amount of research and planning, maintenance of our coach and miles and miles of driving that Chris does.  Of course it is a team effort and it is always with excitement that we return to Ontario to reunite with family and friends.  This summer will be a milestone with Danielle and Al getting married in Sunderland Ontario on July 11 and celebrating in Australia on July 18 with a cocktail party.

We smoothly crossed into Canada yesterday, April 27, 2015 and toasted our fabulous journey over our camp fire at the lovely Pinery Provincial Park on Lake Huron.



                                                                                              Yay, no ice!


                                                                                             Awe, Ontario!