Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Golden Rays on the Wapsi

Many of the 42N area rivers are chocolate brown colored waterways due to their course through richly organic soils and minimal rocky substrates. Late afternoon sunshine adds a golden hue to the Wapsipinicon River as it swirls around a bend. Know that.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Did NASA's UARS Satellite Crash Along 42N?

Between Friday night and Saturday, did the failing UARS satellite impact terraferma? Somewhere between 57 degrees north and south of the equator, the 6-ton defunct satellite was expected to fall from orbit. Some heavier satellite parts were expected to survive the heated plunge.

While the world waits for visual, radar and other reports of the plunge, this cratered depression was found today near the 42N town of Toronto, Iowa. It has all the elements of a fallen satellite impact; charred pieces of organic material, roughly circular shaped depression, ejecta lines and various deposits of melted metal. Seems to add up to a UARS impact.

Then again, take a closer look. Turns out this is a campfire pit with burnt wood and a melted aluminum can. No UARS here but it got you to look. Know that.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Summer 2011 Gone

Along this latitude, 42N, summer has been near perfect. Some rain, a few storms, some cold and a lot of heat. Its all you can ask for in the Hawkeye state. Now on to the equinox tomorrow. Know that.

Black and Yellow

Bees are buzzing. Last week this bee hunted pollen in the flowers around Amana, Iowa. This week sweat bees hunted me. Not even OFF or Absorbine Jr. helped. Still, with all the talk of bees disappearing it was a good site to see - for a while. Know that.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I Only Have Green Eyes for You

Just a few days remain before Fall begins. Along the 42N latitude last week the Midwest experienced a sudden dive to cold and frost. This week brought back warm temperatures and with it, all sorts of flying creatures. Today I spotted this green-eyed white butterfly searching for food in late season blooming flowers. Among the other flying creatures spotted were sweat bees, biting flies and a turkey vulture. Know that.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Rock Island Line is a Mighty Good Road

Epworth, Iowa is the site of a small park that offers something from the last century - a train caboose. This one is from the Rock Island railroad which probably passed through this small community in northeast Iowa. In the 1930s a song about the rail line was composed and sung by inmates from the Arkansas State Prison. In the 1950s a re-worked version of the song became a hit for several musicians on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Still, the line is the road to ride. Know that.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Cycles of Time

End of summer. End of day. Crops mature. A weather worn farm building near Hennen Lake and Blairstown, Iowa remains standing. Know that.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

East Amana Rustic Barn

Iowa's top destination location are the Amana Colonies. Formerly a collective of agricultural operations, today it is a series of small villages that hold on to the old look and charm, deliver great German food and local beer, produce famous furniture and wool items, and offer several antique stores. Here in East Amana is this old dairy or horse barn. The structure is quite large but is still in use. It is one of the few area barns that hasn't installed a new metal roof like so many have in the past 15 years. Come see it when you visit Main Amana for Oktoberfest in a few weeks (Sept. 30 - Oct. 2.) Bring your thirst too. Know that.

On Top of Belle Plaine's Jumbo Well

Take a look at these smiling boys. They stand on a monument to a monster that still lurks below the city's surface. In 1886, at the intersection of 8th Avenue and 8th Street, in 42N's Belle Plaine, Iowa, a water well drilling crew tapped into a forceful artesan well. The Iowa River aquifer sent some 30,000 to 50,000 gallons per minute into the air along with 500 to 1000 railroad cars of sand downstream and chunks of petrified wood. News of the well spread quickly around the world. It became known as the Jumbo Well, the eighth natural wonder of the world! 

Thirteen months after the tapping of the ancient aquifer, the flow was finally capped with pipes and tons of concrete. Almost a hundred years later a geologic crew retapped this location to survey the current underground situation. While the recapping only took hours, the project manager commented that they were five minutes away from making Good Morning America.

This afternoon these boys helped identify the actual site of the well (mid-intersection at 8th and 8th.) The young Belle Plainians were very much aware of old Jumbo. The orange shirt boy already studied Jumbo in class, and claimed that he knew all about it.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Classic Chrome Hood Ornament

This summer has afforded seemingly endless opportunities to observe vintage cars. One example at the 2011 Old Threshers Reunion in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa over the Labor Day weekend showcased early to mid-century cars among all the farm machinery. At a certain red, old time car, a few people busily photographed this classic design hood ornament. I decided to get in on the action and took this closeup image. Several other people waited to take photos of the winged chrome ornament and car after I was done. Too bad that I did not record the year and make of the vehicle. Who knows this may be a famous one of a kind. Now you've seen it too. Know that.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Haying Time in Iowa

In northeast Iowa's driftless valleys, conditions were right last weekend for farmers to make hay as the saying goes. This farm uses a square baler while other models can produce the much larger round bales. Frost is possible later this week and will make production of another round of hay less likely. Know that.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

2011 Old Threshers Reunion - Part III

Lots of heavy machinery paraded before the grandstand at the 2011 Old Threshers Reunion in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa over the Labor Day weekend. This bad boy made a lot of noise from steam valves and a whistle. The farm field behemoth is basically a boiler on wheels.

Families of tractor owners rode along on these well maintained working machines of days long gone. The kids seemed to enjoy the parade as much as their parents.

The old tractors certainly have a lot of charm, retrospectively speaking. However, look at the open gears, hot boiler accesses, chains links and other hazards on these machines. Its a wonder that anyone survived with all their limbs and various digits in place. Know that.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Late Summer Rays on the Pools of the Mississippi River

At Bellevue, Iowa the late summer sunshine is enough to get people outside to enjoy the weather and the beauty of the Mississippi River. This pontoon boat eased upriver and passed a sunbather just south of Lock and Dam No. 12. Notice how high the roller gates are positioned on the dam. The river's current level is low so the dam's gates are pulled up to allow more water downriver. The lock, off to the left hand side of the dam, was being filled upriver by a tow and its barges. Navigation pool 12 runs from here north to Dubuque, Iowa. Pool 13 (where the pontoon and sunbather enjoy the water) is defined by the water south of this dam all the way to the dam at Clinton, Iowa. Know that.

2011 Old Threshers Reunion - Part II

At the Old Threshers Reunion on Labor Day weekend, there is an emphasis on the progression of labor saving machinery. To start things off there is a parade of animal power as it applies to farm work. Here a team of large horses are prepared to pull a wagon before the parade begins. 

The team winds up pulling a wooden school bus wagon that was actually used in the Mt. Pleasant area around 1915. Its a far cry from the modern Bluebird yellow school buses that are made nearby.

One of the trainers takes her horse back to the stable. The powerful horse demonstrated how walking in a circle while tethered to a hay bailer automated some of the intensive laborious process back in the day. 

In the twentieth century, horse power eventually yielded to steam and gas powered tractors. Some area Amish farmers still use horses to work their land. Other farmers do the same on smaller scales or keep horses for events such as the Old Threshers Reunion. Know that.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

2011 Old Threshers Reunion - Part I

For decades the Old Threshers Reunion in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa has celebrated machinery, animals and people. The three day exhibition runs like a mini state fair complete with food on a stick, named music acts, machinery and process demonstration, and a parade of progress as viewed from the grandstand.

Old and young come to the Labor Day weekend event - many are from machinery or agriculture backgrounds. Plenty of people from all walks of life came out to just enjoy the day.

Food and beverage vendors did quite well this Sunday before Labor Day as the weather was perfect to watch over a hundred years of farm machinery, from steam to gas, pass by the grandstand.

Proud owners of life size and scale model engines took time to explain what their machine did, how it ran, and how they became interested in motor ownership and maintenance. This owner explained how the wide belt running off this motor was used to calibrate the equipment for various loads.

What is a fair without an artist drawing funny faces of the kiddies? This girl tried to sit still while her brother attempted to annoy her. Sound familiar?

While powered machinery helped ease the amount of labor on the farm, it also meant that the operator had additional chores to fill the gap. Early models like this gas powered tractor required big muscles to steer since all the motor generated horsepower went into rotating a flywheel or pulling things rather than into steering. 

At the end of the day the reunion is a celebration of the machinery and people who help put food on our tables from these mid-northern latitudes. Know that.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Psst, Hey Buddy. Do Ya Wanna Buy a Model A?

So you want to get into the old car restoration business? Here's your chance. A 1929 Model A frame and a few parts for only $6250.  Cheap right? Think again. You have to sink in a bunch to upgrade the frame, refurbish the engine and re-do the interior. You may be dishing out wads of sawbacks to get that authentic late 1920s look on the road.

Its a dream a lot of people have. Buy a car in sore need of restoration and then spend years getting the auto ready for summer parades and display. The quickest way of course is to buy a restored Model A and just maintain it until something else catches your eye - like a 1955 Chevy. Know that.