Road Trip Home from Nebraska

We retraced our road trip to get home from Nebraska – taking two days (again) to make the drive.

I took some last pictures around the hotel the afternoon before we left: the art in front of the gas station when we were filling the tank, the sunny parking lot, and the curtains in the room (they are a good prompt for a Zentangle!). This trip was the first time I had ever been in Nebraska and I was surprised that it was hilly; somehow, I expected it to be very flat like the panhandle of Texas. As we headed east the next morning we made one stop while still in Nebraska. There were a few people that were making an early start like we were – but not the crowd at the rest stop on eclipse day! The rest stop included some signage about the Native American use of the area.

We crossed the Missouri River, leaving Nebraska and entering Iowa. The rest stop at Council Bluffs has good signage about the history of the place and the fossil record; artistic ‘bluffs’ near the entrance, a floral mosaic inside, and low dividers around some of the picnicking areas; and a reddish colored walkway that might have been patterned after the river we’d just crossed.

We stopped at mid-morning to eat watermelon another Iowa rest stop. There were plenty of tables in the shade but it was cool enough that we picked one in the sunshine. There was a cicada that was very slow moving – too cold to make noise or fly away when I got close to take a picture! We stopped in Iowa City for lunch at a McDonalds and part of the decoration had physics and chemistry formulas! Right before we entered Illinois, we made one last stop and I took pictures of sun flowers. I like to see plants that are good for pollinators and birds in the rest stop gardens.

The Mississippi River is the boundary between Iowa and Illinois and I took a picture as we drove over the bridge. This is before the river joins with the Missouri…so it’s not as muddy looking. The only rest stop we used in Illinois had planted their formal beds with things good for last summer and fall insects and birds…good for them! It seems to be the trend in rest stop maintenance!

We hit a lot of traffic as we drove to the south of Chicago and into Indiana. I took a picture as we entered the state. We made a stop at a gas station before we got to the hotel in Elkhart, Indiana….tired after a long drive. There was a restaurant within walking distance from our hotel and it felt good to get the exercise after sitting for so much of the day.

The second day we had a shorter drive. The Ohio rest stops are more formal grass and trimmed bushes. There are some margins that might provide plants for insects. There are lots of travel brochures and I picked up several – thinking that north east Ohio could be a good destination for a fall or spring road trip. The rest stops have either barrel or dome sections over their food courts. I realized in the last one we stopped at that there was a Ohio map on the floor!

I took picture through the car window as we went into Pennsylvania. The Alleghenies make for a lot more elevation change and winding in the highway. The clouds were fluffy that day too. The skyline of Pittsburgh…the Heinz sign…the Squirrel Hill tunnel (my son-in-law’s apartment is on top of the tunnel!). After we left my daughter in Pittsburgh, we made a stop at one of the service plazas on the Pennsylvania Turnpike…and then it was through the Allegheny Mountain tunnel.

Our only stop in Maryland before we got home was at the South Mountain rest stop. By that time the fluffy clouds were mostly gone. The stop has mowed grass around the picnic tables…but the beds are planted with meadow type grasses and small flowers rather than exotic flowers. Those plants probably are easier to maintain and give the butterflies/bees a boost!

An hour later – it was good to get home.

Previous posts about our Solar Eclipse trek: Road Trip to Nebraska for the Eclipse, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Solar Eclipse – August 2017, Nebraska Sunrise.

Gleanings of the Week Ending August 26, 2017

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week #101 and #102 – 50 bird pictures this week! My favorite in the first group is the barn owl (and the other owls in this group). My favorite in the second group are the two pictures of spotted owlets! --- I am drawn to owls this week for some reason.

Voyager: Inside the world’s greatest space mission – The two Voyager space craft were launched in 1977…and are both sending back messages to earth.

Trees with ‘crown shyness’ mysteriously avoid touching each other – I haven’t observed this phenomenon in our Maryland forests…but now when I am in a forest, I’ll always look for it!

Time Spent – Who Americans spend their time with (from Richard Watson’s blog). It changes with age. The last chart shows that as we get older we spend more and more time alone.

Air pollutions ranking in 32 cities –  LA ranks 24; Washington DC, San Francisco and New York are 26-28; Boston is 31. Delhi, Beijing, and Cairo are the top three.

Trees and shrubs offer new food crops to diversity the farm – Ongoing research from the University of Illinois trying to mimic the habitat features, carbon storage, and nutrient-holding capacities of a natural system with a farming method that incorporates berry and nut bearing shrubs/trees with alley cropping (hay or row crops)….to be economically and environmentally sound.

AWEA releases map of every wind farm and factory in America – There is a link to the interactive map. The red diamonds are manufactures and the blue dots are the wind farms themselves. It’s easy to see that manufactures happens a lot in areas other than where the wind farms are located….that the center of the country has a lot of installed wind turbines! We saw some of them in Iowa on our way to and from the solar eclipse last Monday.

Diversity Lacking in US Academia: Study – Under-representation of African Americans, Hispanics, and women in STEM faculties at public universities. There is a similar lack of diversity in PhD programs. On a positive note: the assistant professor is more diverse (more Asians, Hispanics and women) that the associate or full professor rank.  Unfortunately, this positive finding is not true for African Americans. Overall – still a challenge….and it impacts the broader labor market as well.

More than 300,000 Atlantic Salmon Spill into Pacific – Oh no! Hopefully this is not catastrophic in the long run. But – Why are they growing Atlantic salmon in pens in Puget Sound anyway?

Thanks to Co-op, Small Iowa Town Goes Big on Solar – Kalona, Iowa – not far from our route to the eclipse! It comes down to local self-reliance and economic development that made sense for this small town. Somehow a pointer to this article (from last February) was in a blog post I looked at when I returned home and I noticed where the town was…small world.

Road Trip to Nebraska for the Eclipse

We were in Nebraska for the eclipse last Monday having driven from Maryland --> Pennsylvania --> Ohio --> Indiana --> Illinois --> Iowa --> Nebraska on the two days prior to the eclipse. I am writing about the road trip to Nebraska today and will be posting about the rest of our eclipse adventure over the next week.  We started out very early last Saturday. Our only stop in Maryland was the South Mountain rest area which is becoming a familiar stopping point for us on the way to Pittsburg or State College.

On Saturday, we were heading to Pittsburgh to pick up our daughter along way. We stopped at the rest stop/welcome center to Pennsylvania then two service areas along the Pennsylvania Turnpike. It’s a scenic drive and I enjoyed a peanut butter cookie purchased at the North Midway stop. We arrived at the Pittsburgh (Squirrel Hill) apartment by mid-morning.

We were back on the road and into Ohio shortly. We stopped at rest areas along the toll road (fortunately our Maryland E-ZPass tags worked for the entire trip). The first two areas had a round area where there were several options for lunch; my daughter and I chose Panera Bread at the first stop and my husband got his McDonalds lunch at the second. The third stop had a barrel vault roof.

We continued into Indiana making a rest stop along the highway and then at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore for a hike (more on that in a subsequent post) and then to our hotel in Lansing, Illinois. The next morning, we were off again after a hearty breakfast at the hotel. There were two rest stops as we crossed the state. There was a Monarch not quite warm enough to be fluttering around. It seemed to have lost a lot of scales since it looked more brown than orange.

Iowa has some themed rest stops depicting the history and energy production of the state. The tall white obelisk in the second picture is a blade of a wind turbine! The art work inside (glass etching and floor tile) was appealing.

And then we were in Nebraska – making one rest stop before arriving at our hotel in York, Nebraska. The day we arrive was clear but the forecast for eclipse day was lots of clouds. We were looking at maps and the track of the eclipse….trying to figure out whether we should head west or east on eclipse day.