Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Day Four - flying high
We didn't set an alarm for this morning and woke up at 8:30. It was heavenly to sleep in. Last night, we ended up in Forsythe, Illinois, about 45 minutes east of Springfield.
An observation about our travels this far: I had no idea there was so much corn in the United States. Oh my gosh, the fields just go on and on and on. At first, it was so refreshing to see all those deep, lush green fields. And I do love corn! But first it covered Kansas, then Missouri, then we got to Illinois, and I got to thinking, okay, if there's a national crop, it must be corn. So I googled it. Sure enough, The U.S. grows more corn than any other country in the world. The latest figures I found said 10 billions bushels of the world's 23 billion bushels each year. Eighty percent of our country's crop is consumed by domestic and overseas livestock. No wonder beef is such an expensive commodity for our environment. And 12% of the corn crop ends up in foods that are consumed directly as corn (such as corn chips, love 'em!) or indirectly (corn syrup.)
We also saw acres upon acres of soy bean crop in Illinois. Sure enough, the U.S. produces 50% of the world's soy beans. I never tired of seeing all the beautiful fields and rolling hills. Having lived in the suburbs my entire life, I find if fascinating. Yes, fascinating. I'm easily entertained.
We drove about five hours today and ended up in the Dayton, Ohio, area. The weather cooled considerably since yesterday and we drove through some light showers along the way. Our targeted destination was the National Museum of the United States Air Force. The museum has over 400 planes from all periods of our country's military aviation history. It was a lot to take in as the exhibits are housed in three gigantic hangars, as well as outside.
We found the model of plane that my dad was a crew member on during the Korean War, the C124 Globemaster. The aircraft was the backbone for strategic air transport for the Air Force in the 1950's. It was surreal for me to walk into the plane and think about what it must have been like for him as a young man, flying in this plane around the world, delivering troops and heavy equipment to ground forces. The museum has exhibits that include artifacts and films from all the various periods of history, bringing alive times from the Wright Brothers to the Iraqi war.
An aside: I take more than my share of ribbing from my family about my propensity to shop and my love of gift shops. The Air Force museum has an awesome gift shop. When we were leaving the base at about 5:00, there was a loud speaker that played bugle music that was very similar in tone to "Taps." The kids wondered what could that be? I was sure it was the signal for the closing of the gift shop.
We stopped at Subway for sandwiches to take back to the room for our supper tonight. After a swim for the kids, and some reading time for me, we went to the hotel restaurant for ice cream. It's going to be an early day tomorrow, the final day of travel. I'm so looking forward to tomorrow evening, when we'll have arrived at my cousin's house. I know she'll have a pot of tea waiting and we'll have so much to talk about and catch up on. It's been almost two years since I last saw her and my aunt, both of whom I adore. On Saturday, we'll head to the shore!