Posts Tagged iowa

Canadian ice and lights

Table Rock Ice Castle

Behind Horseshoe Falls are other beautiful photographic opportunities. Table Rock Complex, located across Niagara River Parkway from Horseshoe Falls in Queen Victoria Park is continually sprayed with mist. It looked like something out of a fantasy — an ice castle.

frozen handrail

Anyone who would brave this slanted skating rink is crazy. It was a solid sheet of ice, stairs, handrail, posts and all.

Don't tread on me

The sign states the obvious: “Walkway is not maintained during the winter season.” If I’d been carrying a measuring tape, I would have loved to know how thick this ice was — both on the walk and the tree. The reflection of the lights above was beautiful and acted as a DANGER! sign.

Minolta Tower and Marriott Hotel

Fallsview Boulevard above Queen Victoria Falls is full of hotels and towers and Casino Niagara, all beautifully lit. Konica Minolta Tower started as the Seagram Tower, but has changed names six times. Supposedly Seagram built it to resemble one of their whiskey bottles.

Tower stands 525 feet above the falls and is said to offer spectacular views. The night was late, so we passed on a visit to the tower. Maybe someday…

After I’d shot about as much as my freezing fingers could stand, we turned toward the Rainbow Bridge and New York.

Crossing into Canada had been easy. The customs officer had only asked us whether we had firearms, which we didn’t.

Returning to the United States: Not so easy.

The Niagara Falls bridges together are the second-busiest crossings between the US and Canada. Thankfully, winter traffic is much less than during the rest of the year.

Homeland Security now requires a passport for travel between the US and countries in North America and the Caribbean.

Dad has a passport.

I don’t.

The prices for expedited passport services were outrageous, far more than I could afford. (Too bad I didn’t know a person can do that herself with the State Department — without extra fees.)

After much online research, I discovered that Niagara Falls seemed to have a loophole. A birth certificate and driver’s license would get me back into the USA. I obtained my birth certificate, then held my breath as we approached the Border Patrol station.

We received quite a grilling: Where were we from? How were we related? Why were we traveling? How long had we been in Canada? Yada, yada, yada.

The Border Patrol officer did not seem to be convinced by any of our answers.

Then he asked, “Were there any really cool things you saw on your way here?”

I went blank for a horrible moment.

Then inspiration came.

“There was this really cool rest area in Iowa…”

Suddenly the officer smiled and started giving us travel tips. Then he let us through. Whew!

Here’s my slide show from Niagara Falls, Canada:

To order, click on the gallery link in the slide show or go here.

GHTime Code(s): 14779 e13cc 0ec18 nc nc 9eee6 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Henry A. Wallace: A complicated legacy

Henry Agard Wallace

Henry Agard Wallace was born in Adair County, Iowa, Oct. 7, 1888, and the Interstate 80 rest area in that county honors him. Wallace had a fascinating career. He was editor of the family magazine Wallace’s Farmer, which advocated scientific farming, soil conservation and best practices. He experimented with corn and wheat hybrids, founding what later became Pioneer Hi-Bred, a major seed company.

He later succeeded his father, Henry Cantwell Wallace, as Secretary of Agriculture. H.C. Wallace had been Secretary in the Coolidge Administration. The only other Iowan to reach higher political office than H.A. Wallace, Herbert Hoover, also served in the Coolidge Cabinet, as Secretary of Commerce. H.C. Wallace and Hoover feuded over corn and hog reimbursements. The elder Wallace eventually died of toxemic poisoning while worn out from fighting Hoover. The younger Wallace blamed Hoover for his father’s death. “I felt, almost, as if Hoover had killed my father.”

When Wallace became Secretary of Agriculture in Franklin Roosevelt’s administration, he reversed many of the Hoover Administration’s farm policies and began paying farmers to reduce production, hoping to drive up prices. His policies greatly shaped the Department of Agriculture’s future because he also advocated food stamps and school lunch programs. He pushed soil conservation in response to the Dust Bowl.

poles showing topsoil loss in Iowa since 1850

This achievement is graphically presented at the Adair rest area. The poles show the decline of soil depth beginning in 1850 until 2000. The Dust Bowl was a painful object lesson on the ineffectiveness of current tilling practices, which encouraged erosion instead of curbing it.

FDR tabbed Wallace to be his running mate in the 1940 election, ramming through his selection over the reluctance of party leaders. The 1940 convention was so upset by Wallace’s nomination that he felt it best to not make an acceptance speech. Wallace’s vice-presidency was the forerunner to the modern vice-presidency. He was “another set of eyes and ears” for FDR. He chaired the Board of Economic Warfare until pushed aside by politics and also traveled worldwide on FDR’s behest.

Unfortunately, Wallace was naive.

FDR sent him on a trip to the Soviet Union and China. While in the USSR, he was shown “Potemkin villages”, false replicas of labor camps that were working people to death until Joseph Stalin’s tyranny. Some believe Wallace was actually a Soviet asset, working against his own government.

While Wallace was globe-trotting on behalf of his President, Roosevelt was busy dumping him from the 1944 election ticket in favor of Sen. Harry Truman of Missouri. As a sop to Wallace’s pride, Roosevelt moved him to Secretary of Commerce, ironically Hoover’s old post.

Eighty-two days into his fourth term, Roosevelt died.

Truman fired Wallace as his Secretary of Commerce in 1946 over a disagreement about Truman’s policies toward the Soviet Union. Wallace then ran for President on the Progressive Party ticket in 1948, a curious four-way contest between Truman, Republican Thomas E. Dewey and Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond. Wallace whitewashed Soviet intentions, even attacking the Berlin Airlift that saved West Berlin from Soviet takeover.

The Korean War finally woke up Wallace to Communist intentions. He later wrote Why I Was Wrong in 1952, explaining that his former support of Stalin was based on limited information and that he now considered himself an anti-Communist. He supported Dwight Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956, then Richard Nixon in 1960.

Wallace retired to his experimental farm in New York, then died in Danbury, Conn., in 1965.

Price Otto von Bismarck is supposed to have said, “The Lord takes care of babes, fools, and the United States.” Never has that proved more true than when Harry Truman became President instead of Henry Wallace.

However, Wallace left a great legacy in agriculture, so great that the world’s largest agricultural research facility in Beltsville, Md., is named for him: The Henry A. Wallace
Beltsville Agricultural Research Center
. In a very real sense, Harry Truman saved the world and Henry Wallace feeds it.

For more on Henry Wallace read his biography: American Dreamer: A Life of Henry A. Wallace

My slide show of the Adair rest area:

To see pictures full screen or to purchase them, click on the “visit gallery” link here or in the slide show.

GHTime Code(s): 8bc48 nc nc nc nc 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Encased in ice

Recently, Dad and I drove to Massachusetts. He needed to have some medical tests run at the University of Massachusetts in Worcester. He asked whether I’d like to ride along. I accepted his invitation. I had intended to blog about the trip while we were on it, but I was too exhausted to write. By the time I got home, trip odometer read 4,396.5 miles.

Dad had to be at UMass 7 a.m. EST Monday and we wanted to visit Niagara Falls on our way. Because of that, our first day out was a brutal one, around 800 miles. The trip seemed never to end.

We hardly stopped. Other than endless miles, only one place stands out from that day, the eastbound rest area at Adair, Iowa.

I had been fretting overnight Thursday that perhaps we should have driven awhile that night.

Staying at Dad’s was the right decision.

When we got up Friday morning, the ice on the driveway was very treacherous. Dad had to sprinkle ice melt behind the van so we could load. Otherwise, we were unable to stand up.

We drove in freezing fog several hours, crawling down the Interstate. We took our time over breakfast in hopes that highway crews’ work would make travel safer. That long breakfast was a very good idea.

bushes covered in ice

Adair, Iowa, would normally be around 5 hours into a trip, but getting that far took longer than 5 hours. I was glad to get out of the car. We stepped into into a fairy-tale world. Everywhere that hadn’t been covered with ice melt was covered with ice. We could hear tree branches cracking underneath the weight. That noise was punctuated by ice chunks crashing to the ground.

ice peeling away from a branch

Ice peeling away from a branch

I stayed on the cleared walks because standing was impossible otherwise. I still had to dodge falling ice chunks and nearly was hit by one. I’m grateful that motion attracts attention.

Frozen US, Iowa and POW/MIA flags

The flags made noise, too, but not the noise usually associated with flags. Instead of a snapping sound, they emitted something akin to a thump. Most of the time, the wind was insufficient to move their weight, and they sagged from the flagpole.

IA Meet People News sign

The usual crop of newsstands stood on the sidewalk in front of the building, including this one. I found the scene hugely ironic. Does this scene encourage you to move to Iowa and meet people?

leaf in ice

I could not resist the beautiful scenes before me. Ice is deadly, yes, but it’s also gorgeous. The light was perfect, too, slightly overcast for even lighting. Fall raking missed this leaf. I love the contrast of brown on white, fall vs. winter. Winter’s winning.

Leaves on a bush encased in ice

Winter is winning here, too, but eventually spring will take hold. The ice will melt and these leftover fall leaves will be pushed off by new growth.

Icicles dangling from garbage can

Even the garbage can was beautiful with its necklace of icicles.

Praise God for ice melt, highway maintenance crews and the beauty of His creation — even when it’s dangerous.

Pictures from the eastbound Adair rest area:

To see pictures full screen or to purchase them, click on the “visit gallery” link here or in the slideshow.

GHTime Code(s): 89f63 fb158 4aef1 0b59a nc nc nc nc 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,