Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Grandmother's Joy in a Water Fountain

On the tenth day of Summer 2013, this grandmother took her 1-1/2 year old grandson to play in Iowa City's pedestrian mall water fountain. Jets of water spray patterns at different intervals allowing the two to enjoy several minutes of watery fun. Grandma Lonnie told me that she looks forward to spending time with her first and so far, only grandchild.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Out of the Dust, Back into the Mud

The Iowa Department of Transportation in the 1930s touted the saying, 'Iowa- Out of the Mud' to attract drivers to roll through the state on fresh concrete roads. Prior to that time the image of a Model T slugging through axle deep mud was all too common a sight here in the tallcorn state. Today miles of gravel roads help tie rural Iowa with towns and cities. Its very common to see this sight (above) of a vehicle churning up rural roads and producing lingering plumes of fine partical dust. Overly abundant rains this year make this scene a rareity and may signal a return to mud conditions for some roads during this wet period.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

United Express Continues Long Tradition of Air Service to KCID

United Express routinely flies into the Eastern Iowa Airport (KCID) generally from Chicago and Denver hubs. These photos of arriving and departing aircraft are from last week's visit to the airport when a special NASA jet flew in for avionic testing. 

United Express flies Embraer ERJ-145s planes in and out of the major hubs to spoke metro markets like Cedar Rapids.

In the foreground is a waiting area where departing planes stop to receive final permission to get airborne. I'm no expert but believe that departing pilots talk to both the Cedar Rapids tower and regional control in Chicago for the go-ahead to fly.

Arriving aircraft make their way past the tower and eventually to the passenger terminal. In years past United Airlines flew 737s to Cedar Rapids. Now smaller capacity, but higher occupancy aircraft continues the decades long tradition of serving the City of Five Seasons.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

How to Authenticate an Old Aermotor Windmill

Out here in the Midwest, Aermotor windmills can still be seen on many farms. Several farm windmills are not in running order anymore; some are kept for display, but a few can still pump water or generate electricity by utilizing wind. This Aermotor is part of the Vinton, Iowa train depot museum display, so it's likely to have been brought to town from a country location.

To authenticate this as an official, old time windmill just observe the fin. In this case you will notice two bullet holes - which oddly confirm the structure as an old windmill. Some people love to zero-in on the fins for target practice. Maybe it was a fad or something done out of sheer boredom. In any case the quarter-size portals provide a rustic look to the fin but corrupt the intended aerodynamic qualities.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Haying Time in Ioway

Don't know if this is the first or third or tenth hay cutting of the 2013 season. Plentiful rains this year created several opportunities for harvesting hay and other forage plantings. What is visible in this photo from south of Lisbon, Iowa is the baled hay, the growth of the next round of hay, knee high corn (dark green) and tall grasses in the field's waterway and in a roadside ditch (foreground.) Last year at this time, fields were so parched that hay was stiff, crunchie and yellow in color. Quite the opposite this year.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Just Around the Bend

One line of the CRANDIC bends southward along the river road near East Amana, Iowa, close to mile post 17. A grain bin (for corn or soybeans) is one of many in the area - as you might guess for rural Iowa. The line was recently reworked between Cedar Rapids and Amana.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Cattle Feed on Last Day of Spring Grass

In the Amana, Iowa countryside it is common to see herds of cattle munching on grass fields. Rainfall this spring delivered lots of moisture for consistent grass growth. Some fields are rotated for the cattle to graze during a particular period, then are herded to a different pasture, allowing for regeneration of food sources.

Meanwhile just a quarter mile from the above scene, a mother cow calls for her calf, who comes a running. Its a busy time as Summer begins.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Taking Off with Allegiant Air at KCID

Mid-evening is a busy time for the Eastern Iowa Airport (KCID) in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. A few nights ago the airport was the scene of activity with commercial, government and private aircraft. An Allegiant Airlines jet makes its way eastbound on the taxi runway for a westbound takeoff. Close behind is an arriving United Airlines Express jet taxiing to the terminal.

As the Allegiant aircraft makes two quick right turns near the end of the runway, sunshine floods the plane's silhouette, showing Allegiant's colorful branding scheme.

It's nose up and wheels locked as another Allegiant flight goes direct to a sunny destination with no hub transfer.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Cloud Prison

Last evening at KCID (Cedar Rapids Airport) produced some great aircraft takeoff photos that I will be editing soon. In the southern sky was this cumulus cloud that seemed to be building in size behind the airport's barbed wire fence. In reality it was probably scores of miles away.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Lockheed S-3 Viking Makes a Visit to KCID

A fellow eastern Iowa blogger let me know that a special aircraft flew in today to the Eastern Iowa Airport (KCID) in Cedar Rapids. This is a Lockheed S-3 Viking aircraft which is now owned by NASA. Rockwell Collins, a local manufacturer of aerospace avionics is testing equipment on the Viking, as part of a new communications system for unmanned aircraft or drones. Read Gazette article here.

Dreaming of the Wild Blue Yonder for an AT-6C Texan

Monticello, Iowa's small airport is the current home of this AT-6C Texan aircraft. Yesterday this plane, built in 1944 was towed to the fuel tanks at the time I happened to be onsite. I have seen this plane several times but have not actually observed it flying. Yesterday would have been a great opportunity for touring the 42N eastern Iowa countryside while peering from a real classic. Maybe next time. Read another story from me about the plane here.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Flag Day 2013 from Dubuque's New Veterans Memorial

Happy Flag Day 2013. Dubuque, Iowa's new Veterans Memorial was dedicated this spring. The memorial is located near the ice arena along Highways 151/61 on City Island, near the Mississippi River. A month ago the winds blew fast while snapping this brand new flag.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

WMT's Great Eastern Iowa Tractorcade 2013 - Day 3 Finish

Day three of WMT's Great Eastern Iowa Tractorcade 2013 concluded at noon today after a trip from Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids to nearby Swisher, Shueyville and Ely. This was the third loop in three days of riding from Hawkeye Downs to various locations nearby. Interesting note to self: On day 3 the Tractorcade runs a short route as to be back to the starting point by noonish. Above is the second to last group of tractors heading for home base. 

Ron and Jamie Ginkens of Chariton, Iowa load their 1963 Farmall on a flatbed trailer for the 140 mile trip home. After tying down the tractor Ron and Jamie made their way to the Tractorcade luncheon on the Hawkeye Downs property.

Ron told me this was the last production model for the 560 which actually sold into 1964. A decade later he bought this Farmall as his working tractor. Now, after refurbishing the tractor he parades the 50 year old machinery any place he can.

Some 530 tractors and riders made their way around eastern Iowa for three days. The weather was perfect with only today's potential for severe weather developing. Many farmers left the grounds as soon as they returned from the loop today to get ahead of the weather. But the balance of the riders and their supporters came in for a brat and hamburger lunch. Many will see each other in other regional tractorcades this summer. Radio station sisters WMT (Cedar Rapids) and WHO (Des Moines) both sent announcers to the site for live updates and interviews. Check it out next time when Tractorcade rolls near you. Sunday staging photos here.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

WMT's Tractorcade 2013 Ready to Roll on Monday Morning

Radio station WMT (600 AM) annual Tractorcade is ready to roll. The procession of new and vintage tractors staged this evening at Hawkeye Downs in preparation of running three routes in three days. 

Staging for the three day event was made convenient on the Hawkeye Downs property and nearby hotels. Each day will find the drivers covering a different route in eastern, Iowa but returning to Cedar Rapids by evening using a hub & spoke logistics plan.

If you encounter a column of these slow moving tractors be sure to slow down or pull over over and watch them. You'll see a wide range of tractor brands from several decades. I saw a hand crank Oliver from the 1940s and late model John Deeres on the track, both shined and ready to go.

Update: Day 3 photos here.

Aermotor Windmill Still Stands Over Seminole Valley Farm

Seminole Valley Farm is a preserved farm site dating from 1900. The property is located along the Cedar River in Cedar Rapids, Iowa near the Ushers Ferry Historic Village. Flood waters in 2008 severely damaged the site. Progress has been made to fully recover the structures and interior furnishings however the museum remains closed. Among the structures located on the grounds is this Aermotor windmill. I don't recall if the blades were spinning at the time of the photo but it is representative of the many same-aged windmills found throughout the state. Must have had a good marketing and advertising campaign along with a sales staff to populate the midwest with these iconic windmills. Also it didn't hurt that many windmills could be mail ordered through the Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalogues and such.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Decoding the Meaning of Birch Bark

Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose is constructed of birch. Native canoes were made of birch. And early writing paper made use of birch bark. This living section of a birch tree in Guttenberg, Iowa looks like a player piano song roll. If only the dark markings on the bark could be decoded perhaps using fibonaci numbers we could hear a new symphony or read something profound.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

C-47s Supported D-Day

On D-Day 1944, some 24,000 U.S., British, and Canadian airborne assault troops led the first phase of the Allied invasion of France, many of them jumping from C-47s like this one. About 6 hours later a massive amphibious landing involving more than 350,000 additional soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines followed. (Photo taken at the 2011 Quad Cities Airshow. This particular plane was in service through Vietnam.)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Detail on House's Gingerbread Trimming

This Tipton, Iowa house looks like it was built in the 1890s. Lattice work on the attic area contains a floating element that I have never seen before. Perhaps there is a word for the sunburst arc themed detail that is set on the roofline pinnacle rather than the exterior side of the home. Perhaps you know.

Auction Time is Community Time in Tipton

Auctions are often more than an occasion for the sales of goods. Gatherings of people especially at auctions conducted from a house or farm property are a chance for community gathering. It is quite common to observe a large crowd at the start of the auction engaged in talk while inspecting the goods.

Sometime shortly after the lunch hour it is also common to see these social attendees leave for the day without buying anything. Most often they are present to talk to friends and see what some things sell for during the sale, then walk away leaving the true core buyers. Its an interesting anthropological study.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Any Tree in a Storm

Last week a number of quick moving rain events passed through eastern Iowa. During one storm this squirrel decided to hold up in our front tree. Perhaps people who know squirrel body language can decode this stance. It could be an act to cover its body from the rain or a stress configuration after being chased up a tree as the fast moving front moved through. If you know what that curled tail means, write your answer as a comment.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

A Quiet Evening in Amana

Saturday night in Amana, Iowa is pretty quiet. Some entertainment noise did come from a wedding reception at the festive hall and a live band playing outside at Millstream Brewing. However outside of the Ronneburg Restaurant there was time to relax and say 'hi' to wandering photographers.

Down the road at a flower store customers try to decide on a purchase before closing time.

Evening traffic was sparse as a rain shower moved closer. Daytime traffic in Amana is much higher on the weekends and on special occasions like Maifest and Oktoberfest.