Saturday, October 20, 2018

A trip to anywhere south of here

I suppose you don’t believe that I really am back. Well, I had a little getaway, some of which I will share with you all. I also have this “problem” of the first world sort. I have too much vacation time built up. I am only allowed to carry over 200 hours of PTO (paid time off) and I am well above that. Otherwise I will forfeit it; at least that is the threat. So I took this week off and traveled a bit in order to visit some old friends and watch autumn all over again. I got down to the southeastern part of Iowa, Iowa City, where I lived for a couple of years back in the mid 1970s. 

Before leaving I asked a friend who is from a small town in Iowa if she thought anything might have changed. She basically said, “It’s Iowa. Nothing ever changes.” While that may be true of the many small rural towns there, Iowa City is a dynamic university town with constant growth and change. The street names were recognizable to me, but they didn’t look at all like I remembered. The houses I had lived in were still there, but updated and the university hospital where I worked was unbelievably huge and complex. Several buildings had been added and the old ones added on to. I was lost wandering around the area, but as I said, the street names were the same so I was never that lost. 

The Iowa River was high and nearly over the dam into the spillway and as much of the upper Midwest there was a bit too much water everywhere and the harvest has been delayed. Along with lower prices and less access to international markets (thank you Donald of Orange) the agricultural sector, the people who grow the food we eat, are hurting. This is never a good thing. 

I opted to head over toward the Mississippi for part of the return trip for a look as I hadn’t been along there for quite a few years, either. It is still quite lovely and fascinating in so many ways. It is a major shipping route and bird migration route and just damned pretty, too.   

I am afraid that all the leaves at home have dropped from the trees so the forest looks like a jumble of vertical sticks, but at least I got to have another week of colors for myself. Now we have to brace for the next phase. When I lived in the Middle Atlantic States it seemed as though autumn lasted a few months. Here we are lucky to get a whole month in before the inevitable change to winter. This may be an exaggeration as my memories and observations are subject to my own prejudices, but it sure seems like it’s not much of an exaggeration.    Click the pics to embiggen.

 That's me on the right.

 Corn still in the field.

 Strawberry Point, Iowa. The strawberry is about fifteen feet tall.

 The Mississippi isn't at flood stage, but it is getting there. Fortunately, it has been a dry week.

 Some bluffs on the Wisconsin side of the river.

 The river is a major flyway for migratory birds. There were hawks and eagles in the sky and various waterfowl on the river. This is a swan, but I saw numerous species of ducks and some pelicans, too.

  It was worth it just to see all the colors again before coming home.


  1. Some world-wide weather moderation would be nice. Much of Australia is crying out for rain right now.
    I loved the autumnal colour - and that t-shirt of yours is a classic.

  2. Elephant's Child, If there was a practical way, I am sure we could spare you some water. Yeah, one of my favorite tees.

  3. Nice photos! I especially like that strawberry on steroids. Now you be sure to take every last second of the PTO that you have coming to you!!! Do not forfeit any of it!

  4. I agree with Debra She Who Seeks--Use all of that PTO. Don't let any of it slip between your fingers. Life is too short. You work hard. Take advantage and have some fun.

  5. Good to put the life life before the work life, at least sometimes! All of the time if possible.

  6. Love that strawberry. What a clever idea! Great set of photos and nice to see you too.

  7. hello handsome! nothing has turned here; autumn has been delayed. thanks for sharing your pix though!

  8. I remember that problem of having "too much vacation time." Somehow, in retirement, I don't have that problem anymore. Go figure. Anyway, looks like you used your time well.

  9. The giant strawberry on a stick is terrific. I'm fascinated with the need to display "big" things. My dad grew strawberries for a living but he never grew one that big!
    "Donald of Orange"? What a great moniker for him.
    I definitely think you should take whatever holiday is owing to you, perhaps a trip back to the homeland is in order?????? Luckily for me, I am retired now so lots and lots of holiday time in my future. All I need is lots and lots of money so I can travel the world.

  10. Love the pics! Our fall is short these days too.. it seems to go from summer to winter, boom. Saw my first snowflakes this morning.

  11. I loved all of these pictures. But I admit, I covet that T-shirt you are wearing! :-) iTired. Perfect!

  12. Congratulations on actually taking a vacation - well done! ;-) Love the beautiful fall colours in your photos. At least they'll give you some nice memories when winter swoops in.

  13. Debra, The things you find in small towns around the Midwest are hilarious. I still need to use about 80 more hours of PTO by the end of the year. Unfortunately, it will all be home on the farm except for maybe a day excursion because, you know, winter.

    Siuox, Indeed. Life is short and at this age I realize it is getting shorter every day. The pursuit of happiness becomes more critical.

    onevikinggirl, My career, such as it is, has to learn to take a backseat. As you age you will see just how much more important this is.

    LL Cool Joe, A lot of small towns on this side of the Big Pond have quirky symbols like that. Large fish statues are another popular theme in the Midwest.

    anne marie, Aw shucks! It was already fall at home and all the leaves are on the ground. I just HAD to see it one more time. Even met some other "leaf lookers" at some rest/observation spots on the river and we would have a few laughs and conversations before we went our separate ways.

    Tom, I am always a it envious of your retirement. Hope to be there someday soon.

    Shammickite, A trip to the Homeland was putt off last May, but I will get another planned for the next year or two. I have the time, but funding is always a bit sketchy.

    Knatolee, We have been seeing snowflakes for a few weeks, but they won't get serious for a few more. How is your "zoo"?

    Margaret, You can always have a shirt made if you know the right people! I often get nods of approval from those of a certain age. :)

    Diane, Yes, the monochromatic winter will set in soon enough. When I need a color fix I just click on Elephant's Child for a beautiful perspective! When I need a laugh I click on you!

  14. Oh My Gosh!!! I love your T Shirt. "there's a nap for that"!!!! Where does one get it?

    Nice post Jono. Welcome home and great pics.

  15. When we left Alaska we moved to my childhood town in Kentucky after being gone for fifty years. It was caught in a time warp; everything was the same. We staid awhile but it just didn't feel right, so came back to New England
    the Ol'Buzzard

  16. Sounds like a great trip. Almost like turning back the clock for a bit.

    Awesome T-shirt!

    And yes, as others have said, use ALL THE TIME. Get some reading done, if nothing else!

  17. Diane, I only say it because it's true.

    Linda, I honestly don't remember where or when I got it. I think it may have been a gift.

    Ol'Buzzard, I can't imagine going back to my hometown, but I suspect a lot has changed. Without the same people it wouldn't be worth a second look.

    jenny_o, I effectively DID turn back my clock a couple of weeks. Time travel has to start in small increments, you know.😁 Since I'll never have much money, time is the precious commodity. I will savor it!

  18. looking good dude...should have come to Texas

  19. I have the same problem with my PTO...and there's too much work to find the time to take off.

    Love your shirt!

  20. JACKIESUE, If I just stayed on I35 it was only another 1200 miles or so.

    Pixel Peeper, They want me to use the time, but keep me too busy to even think about it.