DNA-X 2014 #4 Silos and Smokestacks…oh my!
We apologize to the blog followers for the interruption in transmission! The strategy for this expedition has been to throw a dart at the map to aim us in an unspecified direction. Since this is the Mystery Tour, this usually works well. We did not anticipate that the dart could get lost in the forest, swept down a storm drain, or worse! We have recovered the dart after extensive effort and now head west. We have since put the dart in the care of Pip, our Prairie Dog co-pilot, since he is much more organized and less distracted by life!
Our exit from New York State left us staring at the expanse of the mid-west. Which way to go? The most direct way to go west took us through the quagmire of big cities like Cleveland and Chicago. It doesn’t seem to matter when you go in this direction, it will be tedious. After getting stuck in a two-hour traffic jam, we finally found a bed for the night outside of Chicago. We debated a visit to the Windy City but a glance at the evening news changed our minds: 14 people were murdered that day in the city.
Exit stage left, and please find something peaceful and unusual. We have already entered the massive Ocean of Corn, a 1500 plus mile long monoculture of corn and soybeans. The next state on the road is Iowa. Usually referred to as America’s Heartland their local moniker is the land of Silos and Smokestacks. Certainly there are lots of silos around but who would market smokestacks? We discovered plenty of belching smokestacks, busy processing all that corn, in the big cities that were also smothered with thick smog. Ugh! There must be something else? Scouring the map we find in small print- The Effigy Mounds National Monument. Hummm, this sounds different. We aim Blue on a back roads approach and weave our way along the edge of the upper Mississippi River. The 2500 acre site is perched high above the river in northeast Iowa. This is sacred land, an ancient burial ground for Native Americans that was used by 18 tribes for over 2000 years. Many of the some 200 mounds are in the shape of animals, some hidden deep in the forest. A hush hung over the lush forest as we hiked 500 feet up on the trail to visit the mounds. Some mounds were perched on the edge of the cliff, some smaller, round ones were all in a row like a string of pearls. There were large animal mounds and small ones. The monument protects this peaceful site and it is well worth a stop.
We then crossed into near-by Wisconsin to find a remote inn on a quiet country road. Canoe Bay welcomed us with a lakeside cottage surrounded by forest and abundant wildlife. Peace and quiet at last! Deer ambled through the tall grass by the lake as birds sang and gentle breezes blew. The creative chef prepared meals from their own organic garden and local purveyors. Do make sure you sample the regional Wisconsin cheeses. After a few days to recharge the batteries we were off. The Great Plains stretched out before us, an endless flow of corn and soybeans. We put our blinders on and pealed off two 10-hour days. At last the faint silhouette of the Rocky Mountains appeared, the West!