GAYS MILLS - I finally got on the road at 8:30 Monday morning, instead of the 7 a.m. start that I had planned. Not having done much travelling lately, I took time to make sure I had what I needed for a 3 week journey. I zigged up through Iowa until I got to Austin, Minnesota and then zagged onto Highway 90 headed due west. Today would be a travel day and I did travel, whizzing along with the flow at 80 miles per, quite a change from wending through Driftless area roads.
Three things I saw before I reached the superhighway: a sign on a church - Grace Factory Outlet; a sign for Keister, Minnesota; and a vintage Ford pickup truck (circa 1950) loaded with fall bounty -bales of straw, pumpkins, corn shocks, a milk can. Parked in a beautiful yard in front of a classic country home, it looked like a ready-made Leanin' Tree greeting card.
Out on the four lane across Minnesota and South Dakota I saw oceans, oceans of corn and soybeans, with the harvest proceeding in full swing. I took a short break at Wall Drug, quiet this time of year, and pushed on until I ran out of daylight and wound up in Sundance, Wyoming, just over the state line. I had crossed into the Mountain Time Zone, gaining an hour in an already long day. 747 miles for the day which is more than I usually drive in 2 months.
I had arranged to visit Jim Olson, a former student, in Gillette, Wyoming. Jim has lived in Wyoming for several years and works on the KC Ranch which is where we met. Jim showed me around the ranch where he has worked for 15 years. Jim is a long way from the Kickapoo and has serious management resposibilities on a genuine western cattle ranch. The ranch includes 12,000 acres of range and run 500 cows. The cows are Red Angus which is unique, most of the beef you see are Black Angus or Angus/Hereford crosses. A crew was vaccinating calves that day and Jim ran a really cool hydraulic squeeze shoot, a recent ranch purchase, streamlined the work considerably.
In the afternoon I motored on to Cody, Wyoming. I wanted to visit the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and did so on the next morning. The center is a cluster of 5 different museums and I was overwhelmed and steeped in western culture after 5 hours in these Smithsomian qualty exhibits. I spent my time in the North American Indian, Natural History, Buffalo Bill, and Western Art exhibits. The one I missed, which is very highly recommended, was the one on Firearms. Not being a gun guy I opted out of that world class museum and got back on the road.Next stop: Livingston, Montana to visit a long lost cousin.