Sunday, August 15, 2010

Corn & Soybeans...

It was another long day of driving through Wisconsin and Minnesota. Quite a few hills in Wisconsin and dare say they have a real affinity for water parks (both indoor and outdoors). It must be the capital of water parks in the U.S.! The landscape in Wisconsin in the Dells area reminded me of southern New Hampshire.

I stopped for lunch at Lock #7 on the Mississippi River. I've included a picture. The river had a surprising amount of algae on it. The locks were efficient with the water rising 7 feet in a matter of minutes.

The drive across Minnesota was much like that across Indiana. Except there is no irrigation. All fields of corn and soybeans as far as the eye could see. Given that I was only a few miles from the Iowa border, it makes sense. I understand why processed foods are so much more inexpensive seeing this wide expanse of corn! But there is much more growing in Minnesota these days. Along my drive I saw hundreds of huge wind turbines dotting the landscape in scores of clusters from 5 or 6 to over a hundred, mostly spread along the low, wide ridges.

There is a cost to all this agriculture though. At one rest area, it indicated that in the 1800's and early 1900's ditches were dug to drain much of the swampland of Minnesota. In fact, so much so that a nearly 20% increase in farming land occurred. But more importantly, the use of nitrate fertilizers is polluting the water and groundwater. That probably explains the algae on the Mississippi and this sign that I saw in my campground last evening explaining that the drinking of water to infants under 6 months of age could be deadly! What does that do to adults? We take our safe drinking water largely for granted in New England.

Last evening I stayed at the Blue Mounds State Park. I got in a swim before sunset, a nice dinner on the campstove, a great night's rest and a shower this morning. A nice change from casino parking lots!

This morning, I add this posting from Sioux Falls, SD. It is one of the two main cities in South Dakota, but quite frankly, it is no more the size of Danvers. My signal is courtesy of the City Hall in the downtown area. The falls weren't particlularly remarkable, but I did see the adjacent stockyard and the John Morrell meat handling facility across the street.

Today I plan to drive to the Badlands which is about another 4 hours. By the way, the speed limit in South Dakota is 75. You understand when you drive these highways. No traffic and nothing but straight lines!

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