Driving to Fort Leavenworth, KS

Intro

Thank you all for the well wishes and congratulations on my wedding day. There were too many to try and answer one-by-one.

I am Fort Leavenworth, KS this week. I am a part of a teaching curriculum update. It’s neat to see how the sausage is made and why we teach certain things.

BATTLE GROUND, IN- July 25, 2016

Downtown Battle Ground looks like a postcard of a small Midwest town. There is a General Store, a single diner filled with old men drinking coffee, and a railroad track that cuts the town in half.

As far as my eyes can see is a vista of corn, the leaves dark green, almost five feet high. Dawn paints the tops of the stalks a vivid red-gold. A gentle breeze ripples through it, and my sleep blurred vision it seems I am looking at a vast sea of corn, stretching off to the horizon.

Just out of town is an abandoned farmhouse, half falling down with white chipped paint. Outside the house is rusted, old farm equipment.

People wave as you drive by. Everybody knows everyone else but they mind their business.

The town is where folks leave their doors unlocked and neighbors help take care of the youngsters. Battle Ground is a place people collect on their porches at nightfall to talk in the summer time.

Graying elders where look out for each other and watch out for the kids next door.

Driving West

I drove west from Indiana. Along the way I hit a good part of the Midwest.

South of the Great Lakes is the Plains. The Plains cover a wide swath stretching through the central part of Indiana, into Illinois, Missouri and finally into Kansas. This highly fertile earth is perfect for growing crops and raising kids.

This is the great Corn Belt of the Midwest. Despite the name, corn isn’t the only corps that grows here. The rich soil and warm summer climate support soybeans and grains.

Business parks and strip malls give way to lush stretches of farmland dotted with old farmhouses and rusted silos. I see churches, pickup trucks and Confederate flags fluttering in the wind. I hear the crunch of gravel with tractors driving on one lane farm roads and I smell the wet sharp smell of fresh cut grass.

 

The timeless brown, ugly winter seems far away today on this sunny, summer day. Winter is that awful time when the leaves fall off the trees and the snow comes. Today is sunny and full of hope.

The sun is shining. There are black, rain clouds on the horizon. Rivers snake their way across the landscape.

I pass from Illinois to Missouri. Missouri is where the Midwest meets the South. The state’s two main rivers, the Missouri and the Mississippi, makes it an important hub for travelers and explorers.

As I head west the flat, open land gives way to gradual hills and valleys. Tall power lines crisscross swaths of farmlands growing corn and soy. Commercial trucking plazas and business parks, break up the scenery as you get closer to towns.

I start to see big box stores, plus mainstay restaurants: Wendy’s, Bob Evans and Pizza Hut. Further west, well into Missouri, the commercial centers become less and less.

Family-owned smaller farms and mom-and-pop gas stations and stores take over. There seem to be no zoning laws. Big, multilevel homes with nice trucks sit next to old trailers and junkyards.

Poverty and wealth sit side-by-side. This is a land of family farms and blue-collar workers. I pass through small towns where local restaurants are next door to deserted gas stations.

Finally, I get to Leavenworth. Fort Leavenworth is just outside Kansas City. It’s located in the heart of America. I feel blessed to be here in the middle of the summertime.