Folks, last week ol’ Nevah and I went to Boone and Ames, Iowa, area for a visit with our ol’ sheep shearing buddy, Nick deHyde, and his lovely wife Tanna, plus all their kids, grandkids, girlfriends, boyfriends, pets and assorted friends of ours.
En route, we overnighted with high school friends, Canby and Wanna Bea Handy, in Platte City, Mo. We had a great visit, but I’m sorry to report that Nevah and Wanna Bea kicked the stuffings out of Canby and me in the casino card game.
After arriving in Iowa the next day, we ate supper with the deHydes and then went to Madrid, Iowa, to work the travel kinks out by walking the near-mile-long High Bridge biking and hiking trail over the Des Moines River valley.
The trail — an abandoned railroad right-of-way that the good citizens of Iowa saw fit to pave and light — wuz packed with folks enjoying the evening. A few bikers were putting on extra miles in preparation for RAGBRAI — the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa — an annual event originally sponsored by the Des Moines Register in which thousands of ambitious, fun-loving folks ride from the Missouri River to the Mississippi River in a week.
The RAGBRAI bikers ride from 50 to 70 miles each day, then overnight at various small towns and cities. Each year, the route from river to river and border to border changes so eventually most of the small towns in Iowa benefit economically as the bikers and their motorized supply folks travel through. You can imagine how much money thousands of hungry and thirsty folks drop in those town as they pass through.
This year, one of those bikers will be Tanna deHyde, who will attempt the grueling bike marathon for the first time this year — and that after she had hip-replacement surgery a couple of years ago. Ol’ Nick will pull their camper from one overnight stop to the next during the week.
After we returned from our moonlight walk, we escaped the hot evening air outdoors only to exchange hot air indoors as we caught up on stories, news and gossip.
On Saturday, we attended a bluegrass music festival in Stratford, Iowa, and wuz blessed by an overcast sky and a nice breeze in the shade as we enjoyed an excellent lineup of bluegrass groups.
Then Saturday evening we attended the Boone County Fair where we did little more than meet friend after friend and sit on our buns and flap our jaws until 11 p.m.
Sunday morning while Nick and Wanna attended to other duties, Nevah and I drove to Ames where we marveled at all the new development in and around the Iowa State University campus. We also had a good visit with our old friend and former bizness partner, J.D.
Sunday afternoon, all the deHyde clan gathered for an old-fashioned cookout of brats, hamburgers, pork ribs, sweet corn and all the trimmings. The gathering didn’t break up until well into the evening.
Next morning, we left early for Damphewmore Acres and traveled west on I-80 to Council Bluffs, then south and across the Mighty Missouri to Nebraska City, Neb., then south into Topeka, Kan., and home.
We traveled close to 900 miles round-trip and I hate to report that the corn and soybean crops were in poor shape the whole trip. Naturally, the Iowa crops are holding better than elsewhere, but they are drought stressed, too. And, every pasture we passed wuz picked clean. We saw evidence in lots of places that cattle were being pasture supplemented with protein licks or soybean cake.
After viewing first-hand the sorry state of the crops and pastures in northwest Missouri, western Iowa, eastern Nebraska, I’ll venture an educated guess that this winter we’d all better be prepared for grain shortages and higher food prices. Plus, the ethanol industry is almost guaranteed to take a big economic hit.
My good friend, ol’ Lon G. Horner, traveled to Ohio and back to judge a Longhorn cattle show. He reports that the corn and soybean crops in Illinois and Indiana and simply destroyed by the drought. He said looking at the crops brought back bad memories of the 1950s drought in Kansas.
Upon returning home, we were greeted with temperatures that reached as high as 111 degrees. Plus, the forecast for the next week is for temperatures above 105 every days, with no rain or any relief in sight. All in all, it’s a sad situation across our nation’s breadbasket states.
Long ago, I inherited a book from my second cousin Mazine’s estate entitled “The Public Speaker’s Treasure Chest.” It wuz copyrighted in 1942 by Harper and Brothers. It’s a good reference book. I can flop it open to any page and come up with a good witticism. This week, the first item that caught my eye was a wise crack that read: “The meanest habit in the world is that of self-pity.”
Those are wise words for this week.
Have a good ’un. ❖