Saturday, May 28, 2016

Beautiful flora and fauna. It's not all a 'walk in the park', though!

Have been meaning to return to some previous 'wondering', about what sorts of wildflowers would be growing along the roadways in the Midwest.  And here I am sorry not to have any photos.  It is not too surprising that most of what grows 'wild' around here are grasses.  Beautiful, for sure, and if it is not mowed, some is more than waist high. There are also some scattered vetch, mustard and other, mostly small and inconspicuous flowers I haven't any names for.   Lots of purple ones seem to be 'stock'; it even smells sweet. It's been surprising to see a lot of  'ditchweed' (cannabis), that I'm told is left from the days when Nebraska was a hemp-growing state.  Domestically, I have been amazed at the lilacs (now past flowering) that are huge and prolific, as well as some of the biggest, leafiest tradescantia (spiderwort) I have ever seen, in all of the usual colors, as well as some unusual ones.

Around here the squirrels are either red or black.  I have heard that the black ones are a legally protected species in parts of Iowa.  Oh, and the birds!  There has been so much interesting birdsong - and me without a nice compact guide...  One singing bird I did identify was a cardinal; their song makes me smile whenever I hear one.  And a very flashy yellow and black bird is the Nebraska state bird - a meadowlark.  Distressingly, I see lots of animals (mostly birds) dead on the highway.  Om Mani Padme Hum...

It is tempting to post all of the best of this venture, and leave out the relentless, sweaty, daily effort.  I often feel very 'middle-class' and self-indulgent around the subjects of food and shelter.  But the work is pretty grueling at times, and I flatter myself in thinking I've earned some comforts!  Yesterday's observations included:  salty sweat dripping into my eyes and burning (where's my sweatband?); the sound of traffic on concrete roadway is so much more punishing on the ears than when the road is made of asphalt...  I hear that there is a challenging set of hills in the eastern part of Iowa, where I will be in a couple of days.  But first - there is a good museum to see here in Omaha! 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Photos from Eastern Nebraska

Glass sculpture - downtown Lincoln

Antelope Creek flood control project (park) - Lincoln

Tile mural

Inside State Capitol building

State Capitol

'Whirly' sculpture made from Harley parts. Seen on a Hwy 103 detour...

Hard to believe it's almost time for a new map!

Since the last post I have turned my Nebraska map over to the east side, and am now close to walking off the edge of it! Am continuing to try for miles between rain squalls, of which there have been many.  Notable days/moments: fighting broadside winds of more than 30 mph one very long walk day; trying, on another occasion, to find a camping spot out of the wind, and finally setting up in a veritable junk yard of derelict and abandoned stuff (including wrapped rolls of TP and a dusty 12-pack of Budweiser); being interviewed by the Hastings Tribune. ( Not too bad; just a couple of mistakes...

But my most notable on-going experience is this seeming 'current of kindness' in which I have been traveling. Related family members from the towns of Funk, Minden and Lincoln, and Hastings/Lincoln have opened their homes and offered the most incredibly generous hospitality and friendship. In addition to lively, interesting conversation!  On a daily basis I am saying good-bye to new friends (and places) that I hope to see again some time.  What to do...   except to carry on down the road, reciprocating as and when I can, and remembering my gratitude practices along the way!

Photos to follow.


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Whoa! A lucky meeting, and my first tornado sighting. (!)

Part of my learning curve:  the plains are not all 'dead flat'.  Some of this rolling hill terrain has been a surprising amount of work in view of my previous assumptions.  I remember crossing the plains in a car and can only say that on foot the variations in terrain become much more, and sometimes painfully apparent!  All is gorgeously green right now, what with the wet weather. 

Speaking of road angels!  In one town of about 350 population (Bartley) I sought out the public park and then crossed the street to inquire of the folks at work splitting logs as to whether they knew about the lawn sprinkler schedule (something to which one must always pay attention when camping on city property!)  The man replied that he wouldn't be turning on the sprinkler system as rain was expected(!)  I had asked the right person!  And before I knew it I was sitting with the family on their covered deck, enjoying a meal and some homemade brew.  Over the next several intermittently rainy days I was adopted by this town's maintenance manager and family and included in their week-end activities.  Also continued my walk to the next nearby town and was brought back to Bartley for another night indoors.  Believe me, it was not easy to say a final good-bye yesterday.

The night before my departure a tornado edged close enough to Bartley for the warning sirens to be activated.  While it was not headed directly toward the town, we learned that it had actually touched down in the town of Indianola, through which I had passed (and had lunch) on my way to Bartley.  A Colorado friend reported tornadoes in their area, too, in this past week.  Well, this is the season, I hear!

Top of the tornado

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