I woke up bleary in Iowa. By the time we had reached Ohio it had been dark. Being a passenger isn’t ideal at night, so I decided to catch some sleep. What was meant to be a quick nap turned into a seven hours of sleep. I opened my eyes, and gazing outside.
It took me a couple moments to realize I was in Iowa. It was a muggy morning. The clouds were slowly burning off as we passed the fields. The trees were almost entirely gone. There were only rolling hills around us. There were clumps of trees here and there, but for the most part the land was flat. It was my first glance of the Midwest. Looking out at the landscape I was shocked at its vast nature. I began to realize that this is the place people spoke of when they mentioned of food production in America. We rolled by countless fields that seemed to stretch out forever. Many had been ploughed, but few looked to be planted. Here and there we saw tractors crawling across the fields, readying them for the summer.
It was interesting waking up in a landscape that was entirely new. I had traveled through three states while I had slept. Ohio had been much different. It was flat, yet it still had the forests and swamps that reminded me of home. In the larger scale of everything it is not much different that New Hampshire. Iowa was entirely new. The trees were few and far between. The state was dominated by large open landscapes. The large fields were dotted with tiny farms. The highway was a simple two lanes in both directions. Two lanes went East and Two went West. On either sides of the highway there were dusty dirt lanes that reached out towards the horizon.
In Iowa there is much old versus new. In Des Moines there were new office building, while right outside there were abandoned farms. I have always had a soft spot for old places. So when we passed old abandoned places with the silos falling in, I couldn’t tear my eyes away. I wonder who lived there, and why a house that looked like it was loved now lays abandoned. The old discolored tin roofs and weathered boards reminded me of the turn of the century.
For me, Iowa is the physical representation of the American Dream. The rolling plains seem to last forever. The hills themselves are dotted with farms and beat up old dirt roads. Those beaten up farmhouses had big wrap around porches, and big empty windows. The crop fields with rusty old windmills. Everywhere you look in Iowa you see those scenes that define this wide countries.
There was a gentle fog laying over Des Moines as we passed through. The city didn’t seem to be large, yet like many of the cities we may have just passed to the north of it. Cars flew by us, heading to office buildings as I slowly woke up. It was much like any other city. Office buildings rose up, and we weaved through the interstate system as it snaked through the city. People headed to work, following their routine as the cities heart beat continued on.
The farm country quickly came back into focus as we passed Des Moines. We traveled through a massive wind farm outside of the city. The large white towers rose up, their blades spinning evenly. The towers rose high above the farmers fields and seemed to go back for many miles. I had seen wind farms, yet never to this size and scale. The land out there allows you to look as you can see, I was able to get a good grasp on the size of them.
We stopped at a truck stop for breakfast, walking in the place bleary eyed and tired. We took a seat near the window, having trouble sliding into the booths that were sticky with humidity. It was breakfast again for me, we were silent as we ate. The food was good, and the coffee was a lifesaver. The sleep that I had gotten had given me some semblance of being rested, yet the coffee helped me feel alert. Everyone was friendly, and helpful. Our waitress took great care of us, and part of me now regrets that we never got her name.
The place was quiet, the tables mostly occupied by the elderly. There were old couples that ate slowly, speaking to one another. At another table there were two older men in worn jeans sipping at their coffees. Two old baseball caps lay upon the table, and the when the waitress came by she spoke to them if she had known them all her life.
We finished our meal, paying and heading back outside. It was mid-May, and the warm sun beat down on us. Looking around I could see forever, the fields and the farms laid out all around. We took a quick moment to take it all in. Then it was back onto the highway, heading on our long journey. Today we were set to arrive in Denver, but we had many miles to go. We still had to leave Iowa and make it across Nebraska. It was going to be a long day. I was excited though for it was the day that we would arrive Colorado.
Everything was incredibly exciting. While I was excited about Colorado, the journey had been much more than I anticipated. I love new places, and the opportunity travel gives me time to take it all in. Its all about keeping an open mind, and looking for beauty everywhere. We have a narrow view of beauty, yet beauty is everywhere. It can be in the deep of a temperate forest, or in a desert. Oftentimes it is the unique qualities that make a location so incredibly beautiful.
Many people told me I would get bored in Iowa. Yet I found the opposite was true. I found the rolling hills and farms beautiful. There is something very special about those wide open plains. They give a real feel for how vast and beautiful this country is. Iowa is an intriguing place to visit, and while my time there was brief, I enjoyed it. Driving and staring out at the fields and open plains is something I will never forget.