Thursday, July 26, 2012
Last night, Pat and I returned from an 11-day trip out east. The main focus of our trip was to finish my personal ‘quest’ to see all of US Highway 50 from the west coast to the east. We did just that, driving from here to the eastern end of 50 at Ocean City, Maryland. Just like last summer, US 50 did not disappoint, and we particularly enjoyed the 2-lane zig-zag through the West Virginia mountains. This road was a beautiful drive through Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, The District of Columbia, and Maryland. It goes right past my favorite memorial, the “Iwo Jima” Marine Memorial, just across the Potomac from DC, near the Arlington Cemetery. It becomes “Constitutution Avenue in DC, directly in front of the White House and the Ellipse.
You can see magnificent farms in each state. Horse farms in southwest Ohio were the dominant feature along 50. The corn and soybean fields in West Virginia were nicely groomed, but small along the valleys of creeks and rivers. I thought, “How would I get my combine up this road to these fields?” In Virginia, old historic mansions dotted the landscape, most with white board fences around their pastures and tree-lined roadways leading from Highway 50 to their front doors.
We enjoyed the history of Annapolis, MD. Our visit to the Naval Academy was an impressive time. And we spent a couple days at the beach and boardwalk in Ocean City. After the “OC” we went back to Washington, DC for some museums and a baseball game. We then scouted out some early-American family history in Philidelphia, and then ended our trip with a couple days in Baltimore. The Aquarium there was especially well done. And our last evening was at Orioles Park in Camden Yards. Wow, was it ever nice! We made the trip back to Indiana in one day from Baltimore, all the way to Terre Haute on I-70.
Upon our return to the farm, we discovered that the drought has intensified. Temperatures have been 100+ again this week, hitting 104F (40C) yesterday with a 110 humidity index. Although we saw beautiful, green, lush cornfields out east (Maryland farms were especially beautiful!), upon crossing the border back into the Hoosier state, it was apparent that dry weather was increasing. Along the I-70 corridor, starting about Dayton, Ohio, we began to see the evidence of dry weather. As we moved from east-central to southwest Indiana, it got even more severe. We saw dead corn along US 41 at Oaktown. The lawns are brown, no mowing will be needed until it can rain again.
On the trip, we did see lovely fields of corn and soybeans in south and eastern Ohio, in Delaware and Pennsylvania. The most picturesque spots to my eyes were in eastern Maryland, where I was impressed with the size and quality of the farms. Big fields, and beautiful crops. Only in small locations did I see any evidence of drought. It surprised me with the number of Maryland fields of wheat/double-crop soybeans. I guess I did not know what I expected to see, but Maryland agriculture, from the huge “Bay Bridge” eastward to Salisbury and Ocean City, was quite impressive.
I am happy for the farmers out east who are headed toward what seems to be a good corn crop, much like we enjoyed last year. When I saw the drought of Kansas in summer of 2011, I thought, “Boy, I hope that never happens to us.” But it is happening to us in 2012. The typical question to ask is ‘why’, but a better question is, “What am I supposed to learn from this experience?”
Even with the heat and drought, it is great to be ‘back home again, in Indiana’. Home, sweet home.