It’s a Big Dam Country — Day 21

Spent much of today vac­il­lat­ing between ‘I want to be home right now — how fast can i get there?’ and ‘the inter­state is killing me — how much extra time will it take?’ 

Some­where around Sergean­t’s Bluff IA I had the motorists’ equiv­a­lent of a flash­back freak-out and took the first north bound turn off of I‑29. That would be 75 just to the east.

Inter­state’s are dan­ger­ous­ly hyp­not­ic in their same­ness. I start to assume stu­pid things and pass trucks at 85 mph with­out being able to see all the way around them. I mean that’s why there are two lanes north­bound, right? Cue dod­der­ing old fart in ’56 chevy pick­up with orig­i­nal tires doing 45 in the left hand lane. I don’t make those assump­tions on state roads. I’ll live longer on the state roads.

On with the reportage.

The corn that I saw being plant­ed on the way through going east is now up out of the ground. There’s a lot less heavy farm equip­ment on the road. Here’s a shot from Kim­bal­ton, IA

getting tall already
get­ting tall already

North­west Iowa seems very pros­per­ous. All the hous­es have new paint on them and all the out­build­ings are stand­ing straight. There are a lot of cows, some sheep, and a bunch of hog barns. Not the rows and rows that you saw on tele­vi­sion a cou­ple of months ago. Two or three barns at a time. Clear­ly pays well, though.

classic iowa countryside
clas­sic iowa countryside

I skipped the vis­it to the Muse­um of Reli­gious Arts. (Yes that was a plur­al) I was feel­ing kitsch chal­lenged today. The brochure I picked up at the vis­i­tor’s cen­ter looked lovely…

A ride up I‑29 that did­n’t feel com­fort­able. Then a rest stop and some rethink­ing. On to Route 75.BTW Iowa rest stops are non-smok­ing. (Though no one seems to take the signs seriously.)

honored in the breach if at all
hon­ored in the breach if at all

Route 75 fol­lows the train tracks pret­ty close­ly. All along are huge grain ele­va­tors. This is the one in Hin­ton, IA.

hinton co-op elevator
hin­ton co-op elevator

The ground changes some­where around the Iowa/Minnesota line. There are gran­ite slabs and boul­ders in some of the fields. 

cows, rocks, sky
cows, rocks, sky

From Madi­son, MN I give you Lou. He’s been stand­ing there pro­claim­ing Madis­on’s claim to fame — lute­fish — for 25 years. 

local media star
local media star

There’s a hotel down the block called Lou’s Lodge. I should have stopped but was hop­ing for some­thing with a cou­ple few­er hunter’s trucks parked outside. 

There were no rooms avail­able in Ortonville. Next pos­si­bil­i­ty — Wheaton. 

Big road detour around con­struc­tion on 75. Wheaton is in the mid­dle. No idea which end of the detour you can get to Wheaton from. Not will­ing to back­track if I was wrong. Onto Breckenridge/Wahpeton.

Found a hotel about 9:30. Grabbed some din­ner — Burg­er King sal­ads are awful. Tried to write, too hyper and too tired at the same time. 

But I could see this out of the win­dow. I love the sound of trains. Instant nostalgia. 


Then I fell over asleep.

Ran­dom bits:

The red-winged black bird con­tin­ued to be the dom­i­nant road-side species. Added some sort of dove near the Iowa/Minnesota line. Also saw the pheas­ant sac­ri­fice of the west­bound trip about then. 

There is no more hon­ey­suck­le. Must be an Ohio Riv­er val­ley thing. I kind of miss it, so much bet­ter than ag chemicals.

The answer to the ques­tion posed at the begin­ning is about 18 extra hours of dri­ving time. (The dis­tance is with­in a cou­ple hun­dred miles.)

Today’s Route:

View It’s a Big Dam Coun­try — Day 21 in a larg­er map

About the Author

Lara Harriger