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• Friday, November 20th, 2009

What a wonderful experience Steve and I had on our two-week road trip to visit Steve and Carolyn in Champaign, Illinois. We left very early the morning of Thursday, Oct 8th, and followed I-15 through Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois. We were so lucky to have good weather all the way. It seems we were following a pretty bad storm heading east, but we never caught up to it. We saw slushy, dirty snow half way up the sides of the vehicles passing us going west, though. We stayed that night in Lincoln, Nebraska, and arrived at their home in time for dinner Friday evening.

Steve had arranged for us to visit a few really great places. And Carolyn got off work a couple of the days so she could come, too. We drove out to see some of the covered bridges in the area. Beautiful countryside.

We all went to the Amish town of Arthur. It was really fun to just wander through the shops and Antique stores and find little treasures. I really enjoyed having time to play with dear Carolyn and Steve. There was a barbeque cook-off in town and we sampled some of it. Yummy…

The Midwest is amazing. They have 360 degrees of horizon. And corn as far as you can see in all directions. Steve and Carolyn have a friend, Randy Weber, who owns a huge farm–mostly in corn but with some soybeans. With 11,000 acres under cultivation, Randy is the largest producer of corn for snack foods in the country. He sells a lot of his crop to Frito-Lay. His farm toys are huge–tractors, trailers, grain hoppers, combines, tillers. Most of his equipment is made by the John Deere Corporation and they bring some of their newer models to his farm for testing. I got to sit up (way up) in the cab of one of his tractors. It’s like an airplane cockpit in there. Randy said that when they plant the fields they use a GPS attached to a computer which records precisely where the seed goes in the ground. Then, when they harvest, they hook the same GPS coordinates to the harvester computer and let the harvester guide itself down the rows. He doesn’t even have to hold the steering wheel. He said he expects in the near future they will be able to do the harvesting driverless–using remote guidance equipment. Wow…

We also got to tour the Fair Oaks Dairy in northwest Indiana. They milk 30,000 cows three times a day. They have ten locations with 3,000 cows at each location. About 80 calves are born a day. They have a round “cow merry-go-round” that holds about 70 cows at a time and as they have the cows walk over from their very long, clean housing into the large barn, they are filed in line to get on the slowly turning merry-go-round. The milkers are attached to the udders, and by the time the cows make one time around, they milkers are unattached and the cows walk off and back to their “stable”. It was so amazing. And I got to watch a baby calf being born. They actually have a “Birthing Barn” with the lights down low and a small set of bleachers for public to witness the births. The cows are behind a very high Plexiglas wall and have a staff assisting them if needed. That little guy came out looking just like a real cow–only much smaller. His head and front hoofs came out first and as Mom was working him out, his little head was just looking this way and that checking out the new digs. Amazing…

We also got to take a tour of the Duke Energy power plant in Newport, Indiana. Steve has good connections. His friend, Gordon Delp, works there and we met with the plant manager who gave us permission to take pictures. Again, everything was so huge. The plant generates electricity by burning coal which heats water into steam, which drives two large turbines that each turn a large generator. Everything is big. Every day they burn enough coal to fill over eighty railroad hopper cars. The steam pressure going into the turbine is about 1500 pounds per square inch and the temperature is about 1,000 degrees Farenheit. At this temperature and pressure, it would cook an elephant like a hot dog, in about two seconds. Safety is a big concern at the plant.

Another great day trip we took was to Springville, Illinois, to the National Lincoln Museum. This year is the 200 anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth and the museum was a wonderful learning experience for Steve and me. We learned of Lincoln’s family, his home environment and upbringing, and of his political views and strong passion against slavery. We learned of the Civil War and how it progressed and the many lives lost. And how Lincoln held fast to his belief that this nation must not be divided, even through the great suffering he had to witness. This was a wonderful experience to learn of this great man. And one thing I learned was that his family didn’t have any power or prestige. He wasn’t reared in any type of favorable circumstance. But he had integrity. He held firmly to his beliefs. This is the kind of man the Lord can work with. I want to be this kind of a person.

After spending a very enjoyable week with Steve and Carolyn, we headed for home and stopped on the way to visit several LDS Church History sites and to visit Aaron and Kimberly and Eleanor. We stopped first at the Carthage Jail, where the Prophet Joseph Smith was martyred. A beautiful place, but so full of sadness.

We also stopped at Adam-ondi-Ahman where The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a small parking lot and overlook to see the valley below. This is a historic site along the east bluffs above the Grand River in Daviess County, Missouri. It is the site where Adam and Eve lived after being expelled from the Garden of Eden and will be a gathering spot for a meeting of the Prophets of all ages and many other righteous people prior to the Second Coming of the Savior. Most of the land is currently least out for farming.

We drove on to Nauvoo and were able to go through the Nauvoo Temple and do proxy ordinance work for one of our ancestors. We stayed the night in Nauvoo and the next day drove on to Kansas City, where we got to have dinner with Aaron’s family. I got to play with CE–Cute Eleanor. We enjoyed our time there very much, but headed on down the road to see how far we could get before stopping for the night. We actually made it to Salina, Kansas. Nearly all the way to Colorado. After a good night’s rest, we finished the trip home going from Salina through Denver, Colorado, and up to Laramie, Wyoming, then down into Salt Lake City. It was a wonderful adventure and it was good to be home.

There is so much to see and learn in this beautiful world. I hope I live long enough to enjoy much more of it, and to share it with my family…

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