Thursday, June 13, 2013
POST 1137; JUNE 13, 2013; GRAND RIDGE / OTTAWA, ILLINOIS
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SAM and ME got a late start this morning from the town of PONTIAC, Illinois. Our destination, OTTAWA, Illinois, lies North on SR 23 about 45 miles distant. The morning started out HOT and HUMID...and got a lot hotter with humidity in the mid 90's. In five minutes, all my clothes - including my shoes and socks - were a sodden soaked mass of hanging heavy materials. My right heel began to develop a blister...the first one in over three years...and my left foot center toe slipped against the toe of my new NIKE shoes, jamming the toe nail back into the flesh...both these maladies are potential serious injuries...we shall see how they develop.
Normal walking speed of 4 miles per hour requires 11 - 12 hours steady walking to reach Ottawa...a prodigious challenge with sweat RUNNING off my head in a continuous stream...but, I kicked it into overdrive until reaching the small village of CORNELL, Illinois...some 15 miles from Pontiac...where we took a 5 minute break to drink a power drink and down one slice of cheese pizza...chat with the ladies tending the Convenience Store, who loaded our empty water bottles - and Penny's insulated bag with my two Egg McMuffins inside - to continue our test of how long ICE lasts under varying conditions...and I got a hug before continuing our way into the increasing heat and humidity.
Many hours later, we came upon JR's Pub in the tiny burg of GRAND RIDGE, Illinois. I tried to buy a beer when walking past JR's last year,,,but, it was closed. This year, it was OPEN...and our entire day became instantly changed.
Please say HELLO to JOE, LOGAN, DON, and RALPH...four local farmers taking their own break. We chatted for 1/2 hour or so...laughing and for me, at least, shut down the roaring furnace inside my body.
Oops...again missed this fellow's name...but believe it is John...so,
Everyone, please say HELLO to JOHN.
Please say HELLO to STEPHANY. Stephany tended the customers...including me, orchestrating the conversation(s) and keeping my beer glass topped off.
Please say HELLO to TOOTSIE...aka MARESE RATHER GLEIM...who walked into the room carrying a bowl full of strawberries...handing them to me with ..."...I just picked these strawberries from my own garden...and I thought you mike like some..."
Now, I have never met or seen Tootsie before, but she seemed to know a bit about SAM and ME. Tootsie was about to become the main person in my next 18 hours.
Please say HELLO to JEFF GLEIM. Tootsie's husband, Jeff, was about to become my host, teacher, and confident.
JEFF and TOOTSIE own and operate a couple THOUSAND acres of local farmland...some of it, the BEST THIS EARTH HAS TO OFFER, says JEFF, alternately planted in Corn and Soy Beans.
SAM and ME were invited to ride in Tootsie's pickup truck (SAM in the back), join them for dinner, and spend the night.
Driving from JR's out to the GLEIM properties...JEFF explained that his Grandfather...or Great Grandfather (I forget), travelled out to the Sacramento Gold Fields...becoming rather successful at collecting his share - and more -, which he promptly banked with instructions to family back in Grand Ridge, Illinois, to BUY LAND...and buy they did.
Please say HELLO to Jeff's Dad...Mr. GLEIM. I did not write down Dad's name and now cannot recall it...sorry.
JEFF and his Dad live and farm adjoining sections of the family properties.
JEFF took me on a 3 hour tour of his many properties, explaining as we drove along the dusty gravel roads. Returning home, Jeff toured me among the many unique pieces of farm equipment used. The above image is a hopper filled with "seed" Soy Beans...normally a Creme Color...but in this photo, enhanced with anti-biotic and growth additives (I did not write down Jeff's details, and as one might surmise, have forgotten most of the teaching I received). Jeff explained that many natural bacteria live in the soil...and the seed must be protected from them from the first moment of planting. Jeff also explained that water content is closely monitored to prevent mold setting in...all in all, a very complex process to bring a field of beans into this world.
Jeff's Dad is an engineer...and designer...and builder of much of the family farm equipment. The above assembly - towed behind a tractor - is a one-of-a-kind creation by Dad...the harrow up front cuts through the soil...followed by the complex "Mulcher", which mixes the soil, leaving it soft and smooth in preparation for the third part of Dad's private planting system...the Twin Disc Drill Planter (of soy bean seeds).
Up-close view of the twin disc drill planter. Two side-by-side discs cut a thin slice of soil apart...the hose above metering seed into the slit at the proper depth and spacing.
OK...I do not pretend to have given a fully accurate and complete rendition of Jeff and Dad's equipment...I received a single once-over explanation as Jeff and I rather quickly slowly walked through the equipment parking area. I commented that it would be great for me to spend a few days out on the farm...to get a really in-depth education with proper photographs and historical background...a option for possible future journeys into life in America.
10-year-old Megan was a particular delight to spend time with...full of questions...lots of "WOWs", and a young lady one does not quickly forget.
All too soon, bacon and eggs are eaten...SAM is loaded into Tootsie's pickup truck...and SAM and ME are delivered back to SR 23 to continue our walk to DE KALB, Illinois.
One question I did ask of Marese (Tootsie)...what part she played in the operation of the many thousand acres of the GLEIM properties. She replied that she:
Kept the farm house and gardening in ship shape;
Prepared "sack lunches" and delivered them to the many employees out in the fields.
Was official "go fur"; i.e., driving her pickup hear and there fetching things needed quickly in another place.
During HARVEST, Tootsie has her own "dump truck" which she drives into the fields, gets loaded with harvested corn and beans, and delivers the grains to their own SILOS...
Grain is dumped into large "hoppers" attached to long pipes leading to the top of the Silo roofs. Inside the pipes are "Screws" which rotated lift the grain through the pipe to the top of the hopper where it falls through a hole, dropping into the inside of the Silo.
So, Tootsie says she is a rather busy lady...taking on the outside job of mowing the grass of the local Cemetery.
Grand Ridge Cemetery...about 3 miles North of town...which Tootsie cut and trimmed.
SAM...again contemplating her "road ahead"...this time SR 23, leading to the rather large city of OTTAWA, Illinois...about 10 miles North of Grand Ridge, Illinois.
For those historians wondering about "my CELLAR DOOR"...the above photograph shows a real honest to goodness "RAIN BARREL".
Water Tower of the city of OTTAWA, Illinois.
Walking through a residential neighborhood of Ottawa.
...and crossing the bridge over the ILLINOIS RIVER...which I believe flows out of LAKE MICHIGAN in downtown CHICAGO...then flowing Southwest across Illinois before reaching the MISSISSIPPI RIVER.
Downtown Ottawa, Illinois.
Mural of a Civil War scene.
Following SR 23 North out of Ottawa, Illinois. It took SAM and ME over one hour to walk and roll from South to North of Ottawa...a rather large small city.
The Pennsylvania Railroad Passenger Terminal...long since un used.
It was after 2:00 pm when SAM and ME reached the northern border of Ottawa...with Interstate 80 (I-80) freeway forming a gigantic FENCE, separating Ottawa from the rather desolate farm land continuing another 48 miles up SR 23 to the city of DE KALB, Illinois...the destination for tomorrow.
Considering the increasing painful feet, I am not eager to move out...but we MUST get to DE KALB to see Sister Carol...so I plan to leave before daylight, travelling on SR 23 all the way to DE KALB...which should take SAM and ME about 12 hours continuous walking. I wish to arrive at Carol's Nursing Home by 6:00 pm tomorrow, so we must walk at top speed all the way. There are two Convenience Stores along our route, so we should be OK...