Exploring Across Iowa

By: Colleen With North Pack Media

    I woke up in Iowa, bleary eyed. I had caught a couple hours rest, contorted in the back of a Jeep Grand Cherokee. We were headed to Colorado, following I-80 West. We had passed from Ohio to Iowa overnight, making our way steadily to Colorado. My bleary eyes focused as I woke up. The first gentle rays of sun were breaking over the horizon. It moved into all the fields, until the landscape was filled with warm May sunshine. Suddenly I realized that the landscape around me had changed. The night before I had fallen asleep as we had left Cleveland behind. The deep forests and urban areas of the east had melted into the rolling plains of the Midwest.

    Everyone said the Midwest was boring. It would be endless cornfields, something that could be easily missed. As we continued to drive west, I realized how wrong they were. The rolling hills went on for miles until they met the open sky. The recently tilled field were a deep brown, only interrupted by  small patches of green. The plains rolled out in every direction, only stopping when it bridged up against the horizon.

    Water towers rose above the fields, dotting the treeless landscape. Power lines ran into distance until they disappeared. Everything was bigger out here. I couldn't help but marveling at the grand flat landscape.  It was a vast open place, unlike anything I had ever seen.There were little farms, tucked into little hollows of trees. Often there would be an outlying barn, with metal silos attached. There was history written all over the landscape. So many people had traveled through this land on their way to other destinations. Others had settled here, and worked to shape  the agricultural landscape of America. This place had played such an instrumental part in our history.

    Yet Iowa is reaching for the future too. In western part of the state we passed through a large wind farm. Tall clusters of towers sat on either side of the highway. They spun lazily as the farmers worked the land below. Back east a “wind farm” is a couple of tower put up on a ridge line. In Iowa, the wind farms reached out as far as I could see.  

    As we continued on I could feel the corners of my world expanding. I wanted to stop, to turn off the highway and explore the state. Yet we had places to be, and had to continue on. To this day I think about Iowa, and I hope to go back some day. That incredible open landscape lit a fire in my soul. Someday I hope to have a chance to see what lays further down on those old dirt roads.

    For me, Iowa is the physical representation of the American Dream. The rolling plains go on forever, dotted with old farmhouses and rusty windmills. Everywhere you look in Iowa you see those scenes that define this wide countries. I just can't wait to go back.