Monday, May 9, 2011

Transcontinental Trek 2011 - Day 1 - Indiana to Minnesota

Sunday, May 8, 2011 – Mother’s Day

9:00am left home. 52F and misting rain. 2 hrs behind schedule already, and it wasn’t Bob’s fault! It was Dave. In typical Dave fashion, at 5:30pm last night, he hadn’t even been home yet to begin finding what he wanted to take to Alaska, let alone pack! So, his migraine set in, and we were up until midnight packing his stuff. Up at 6am, to finish packing, and now at 9:41am, I think he has finally begun to relax. Except, where are the wet wipes?

It never ceases to amaze me that among all of the chaos that is Dave Russell, he will bird. We hopped in the truck this morning, and the first thing he did was hand Bob and me our “Trip Bird Lists”, just in case we wanted to keep track of the birds we see (uh, huh). He had meticulously typed up and 3-hole punched sheets of his bird list and put them in a 3-ring binder (that was at 7am this morning), to keep next to his seat for the trip. So, now Bob and I too had a 12-page ABA bird list and several of Dave’s personalized lists for each segment of the trip. We are all set! As we shut the truck doors to begin our trip, Dave happily yelled out that the first bird of the trip was the European Starling walking across the driveway. Oh, and did I mention that while he and Bob were loading the last bags into the truck, the Eurasian Collared Dove was sitting on the wire above the garage singing.

We took a picture of the fields near home so we can compare them as we move across the country.  It's been raining so much, that farmers haven't been able to get into the fields yet.

10:45am, mile 50, Walmart stop in New Castle to grab lunch for the cooler and a clip board for Bob’s Bird List. Did I mention that its 12 pages long? Bird list is at 19 species. Oops, wait, Great Egret out the window - 20. Heat wave at 57F, and the rain has stopped. Just cloudy.

Stopped at the Salt Kettle Rest Stop in Illinois for a potty break. What a nice place! A pond with two fountains, a really great playground, and nice walking trails. Dave and Rafael stopped here last year on May 13th and the Azaleas were in bloom. Today, the bushes don’t even have the buds starting. It’s like we’re 2 weeks earlier this year instead of just 5 days.

We’re beginning to find Wind Turbine Farms. Ginormous structures with cables connecting one to another that are bigger in circumference than my arm.

At the Spoon River rest stop we came across this House Sparrow colony. If you look at the tree to the left of Dave and Bob, you will see the nests in the tree. I’ve never seen these “Weaver Finch” nests before, and think it is way cool how the sparrows build such intricate nests and live in clusters. One nest looked like an apartment complex, with several family groups living in it. So different….

The weather has warmed up to be in the 70’sF. We actually had to turn on the air conditioner! The truck is riding smooth, and we are listening to The Sheephearders Daughter by Elizabeth Moon, as we traverse the flat farmlands of Illinois and Iowa. As we crossed the Mississippi near Davenport, I looked hard for a Kite, but, nothing. The only raptors we’ve seen so far are Red-tails kestrals.

Stopped for dinner at a Longhorn Steakhouse in Waterloo, Iowa. Yummy steaks. We saw a display of belt buckles on the wall and Bob told us the story of how Toots Mansfield, World Champion All Around Cowboy 1943, lent Bob his saddle. That was the first time Bob retired. How cool is that? How old is Bob Holmes, really….?

More Wind Turbines in Iowa.
Pulled into the Super 8 in Albert Lea, MN at 10pm our time (9pm local time). Bob had called last week to get his own room (guess he’s uncomfortable seeing Dave naked), and was told that the hotel was full. Now, our truck was the only vehicle in the parking lot, and I was unsure if the facility was even open and operational. It looked a little sketchy. I swear, I will never understand Dave infatuation with Super 8 Hotels. They run the gamut of luxurious (rivaling Ramada’s and Hiltons) to shabby, stinky, filthy, flop houses reeking of vomit and urine. This one was old and the carpets were worn and stained, but it was clean and the front desk clerk was hysterically funny. Reveling us with a story from last night of a fiancé checking in and hiding from his betrothed (who spent the rest of the night checking every hotel for him)! Bob was able to get his own room and we got a room with a King size bed. Yeah!!!! I actually had more than the upper corner to sleep on! Very windy outside.  We slept hard all night.


Sister Marty said...

Hey Jill, Dave and John...enjoyed reading the beginning of your trip and wishing I was in the back seat of that car. Enjoy the trip and thanks so much for sharing it with us. I am looking forward to the experience again this year. Have a safe and good trip. Marty

Sister Marty said...

Just me again...I didn't mean John I ment Bob, traveling with Jill and Dave. I will be alright just had a little brain freeze. So BOB I hope you enjoy the trip with Jill and should be a trip to remember. Have fun and see lots of birds...

mrsbirder said...

LOL! You crack me up, Marty! We are having a blast! I sure hope you can come with us next year!

Norma said...

Dave and Jill. Have a wonderful time. I enjoy reading the blog so much. Paul reminded me that you were gone again and sent Carol Maehr and me the travel blog. Love Norma.