The Interstate highways are great if you want to get from Point A to Point B as fast as possible. If you want to actually see the state you’re driving through, the back roads are the best. I’ve spent the last two days driving through Iowa, mostly because I’d never been here before and I wanted to see the small towns, the farms, and the wide open spaces I’d heard about. And Iowa did not disappoint.
There are so many farms, massive places where the main house and outbuildings are completely surrounded and made small by the acres of fields surrounding them. Half the corn has been leveled, half remains, so this farm’s work is not yet done for the winter.
Once the corn has been harvested, it lives in big silos like these. Tall or short, these things pop up every few miles along the back roads of Iowa. Kind of amazing to see how many different variations there are on the basic theme of storing corn.
These bales out in the field are actually of corn stalks, not hay, and one use for them is in making ethanol. I learned something new today!
As with a lot of the midwest, dealers selling farm equipment are almost as plentiful as corn silos. This one is the rare non-John Deere dealer, so I figured I should salute that independence with a photo.
On one stretch of I-65 South, there were dozens of wind turbines planted along with corn in the fields. They were doing well, as there is nothing to stop the wind for hundreds of miles along the plains here. I kept thinking of the conditions that spawned the Dust Bowl of the 1930s as I drove miles without seeing any kind of windbreaks across the fields.
Local radio survives here, giving grain prices and futures along with the country music and county news and events.
That’s my Iowa. What would yours be? Maybe this post will entice you to wander off the next exit of that big Interstate highway and explore the back roads and blue highways of America next time you get the chance.
On the old highway maps of America, the main routes were red and the back roads blue. Now even the colors are changing. But in those brevities just before dawn and a little after dusk – times neither day nor night – the old roads return to the sky some of its color. Then, in truth, they carry a mysterious cast of blue, and it’s that time when the pull of the blue highways is strongest .
William Least Heat Moon, Blue Highways