KState rugby match_StaatsYesterday I made a quick trip south to warmer climes – about 200 miles to Ames, Iowa.  The landscape was devoid of snow and the temps were in the low 50’s (almost tropical for this person from Minnesota where it had just dumped seven inches of snow on Friday!).  My nephew plays on the Kansas State Rugby team and they were playing the Iowa State team in Ames.  I don’t have much experience with rugby, but it is a fast-moving game, rough and tumble, and a testament to endurance and teamwork.  This match was very physical and included some tough injuries too.  In the end, the Iowa State team prevailed over Kansas State.  But the day provided time for catching up with my nephew and my brother & sister-in-law — well worth the drive!

Wind and weather 7D_1628_StaatsI hit the road this past weekend for a quick trip to the Kansas City area.  It was a time for catching up with family and celebrating my niece’s high school graduation.  We were even able to fit in an evening of pond fishing – the winds were calm, the air was warm, the sunset over the farmland was beautiful, and even the fishing was successful.  I headed back home to Minnesota yesterday, leaving Kansas City in the morning after an early thunder-storm had passed.  The sun was out and the temperature was rising, as was the humidity.  I was watching dark and threatening clouds to the north, hoping they would move east before I got to that area.  As I arrived in northern Iowa, the weather intensified to the north and east with large clouds blossoming on the horizon right along the front line.  The radio station kept interrupting with severe weather and tornado warnings to the east and the south.  When the interstate merged to one-lane and the cars started to back up, I took the first exit.  This area of northern Iowa is filled with wind turbine farms, all working to harness the power of the winds that blow across these plains.  Their height and power seemed to compliment the weather that was building in the area.  My timing was perfect as I was west of this storm system, and my time photographing allowed me to miss the heavy downpours that were to the north.  I managed to arrive home in between the storms, but with an appreciation of the power (and randomness) of Mother Nature.

I made a quick trip on Interstate 35 this weekend.  Driving home I compiled some short observations from the journey:
1.  Exit 22 in Minnesota is for the towns of Hartland and Geneva.  The exit sign going south lists them as Geneva Hartland.  That will be my pen name if I’m ever in need of one!

2.  This heartland area was glowing in the late afternoon light.  The soybeans are yellowing, the corn is drying, and with a bit of a haze in the air the area was beautiful.  I’m thankful for all the food this country produces.

3.  The red lights on each of the wind turbines all blink off and on at the same time.

4.  It’s an eerie sight to see combines working in the dark in the fields.

5.  It’s disconcerting to hear bugs splatting on the windshield right after dusk, especially so many bugs!

6.  Sometimes luck is on your side, but you have to recognize it and act on it.   I made a quick stop for gas and food at Clear Lake, Iowa (home of the Surf Ballroom – the location of the last show by Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper in 1959).  As I looked down the road I saw the potential for a beautiful sunset.  With my GPS I could follow just the right roads to the lake and found a beautiful park with sand beaches and a perfect view to the quickening sunset.  Many of the people who were out walking, biking, and/or fishing stopped to take in this sunset.  It was worth the extra 30 minutes out of my drive to enjoy this bit of beauty.

7.  Family is worth 16 hours on the road!

This weekend called for a trip south to the Kansas City area to attend my nephew’s high school graduation.  That was the planned part; the unplanned part was that I strained my lower back a day before we were to leave.  Trying to maneuver in and out of a car was quite the test of endurance.  But….we persevered and arrived pretty much on schedule.  What I didn’t realize was that my back would continue to get worse over the next couple of days.  Try as I might, I was flat on my back in bed the day of the graduation.  My family members represented me at the ceremony, and I was lucky to see some cell-phone photos of the event.  The return trip home on I-35 North was uneventful, and was the extent of my photographic adventures this weekend.  For those of you that thought Iowa was flat, I have photographic proof that’s not the case.  The hillsides and pastures are all green from the recent rains, and many of the agricultural crops are starting to peek through the soil.  My back is mending, but it’s still not 100%.  To my “driver” – thanks!  And to my nephew Tanner –  congrats on all your accomplishments!  We couldn’t be more proud, and we look forward to your future endeavors.

hoover-cottage_staatsAlthough the calendar says April, we awoke to three inches of snow this morning.  I couldn’t bring myself to post yet another image of winter, so I’m rewinding to the green grass of last summer.  I was fortunate to spend a little over two weeks at the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site in West Branch, Iowa as an artist-in-residence.  The time was a delight and a challenge, and I look back on it now with appreciation for all I learned and experienced, including green grass, blue skies, and blooming flowers!