A few hour west of Chicago is the farm house where my mother was born ninety-two years ago. What fun we'd have when she'd take us there.
I still have relatives in the town of Erie who grow corn and soybeans. Cousin Joe showed me the John Deere plow he used to ride in 1940. "It did two lines at once and on a good day me and the two horses could plow 8 or 9 acres. It was a marvel of engineering back then", he added. Now itt decorates his yard.
Come planting season his son Mark sits high in the air-conditioned cab of a $350,000 monster tractor. With a sixty-foot spread it can plant 24 rows at once, hundreds of acres a day. Cousin Mark told me, "You don't even have to steer the damn thing. The GPS can do it for you".
The next day we drove a few miles and crossed the Mississippi. Iowa is as wide as Florida is long. Now we're in Mitchell, SD, home of Sen. George McGovern and the world famous Corn Palace.
The Senator wasn't home (a neighbor told us he is in Cuba this week). A smiling gnome stands guard over his modest house. It's on McGovern Avenue, across the street from the McGovern Library.
You probably know that corn comes in many colors. In Mitchell the farmers split 27,000 ears of corn in half and decorate the outside of their huge auditorium. They've done it every year for over a century.
And speaking of splitting, the highway is calling and so is our dog (She's tied up too long outside the town library).
We'll follow the sun to Badlands National Park.