Thursday, October 28, 2010

St. Louis to St. Louis, Part 3

Day Three was to be an active day. We had packed the longboards and the Big Sticks.We hoped to land paddle on the Heartland Trail. When we were in Michigan last July we had planned to do the same thing, but someone forgot to pack one of the Big Sticks. I won't say who the culprit was. Let us just say it wasn't Heather.
Notice the two Big Sticks and two Longboards. Please ignore all the other junk.
The forecast had projected rain. But, knowing how the weather is in Michigan, we weren't surprised to find on waking that the forecast had changed. The rain was to hold off until late afternoon.

But before we went land paddling there was something we wanted to do first. On the way home the night before we had passed through Wheeler. Wheeler isn't even a town, but it has a large grain elevator and a receiving area for Sugar Beets. Heather wanted pictures. She had never seen crops stored on the ground.

Here are the trucks filled with sugar beets lining up to be weighed and unloaded

After the beets are unloaded they are piled high waiting to be transferred to the processing plant over in Bay City.

There were a number of these piles.

The corn did really well this year. So well, that there was no room for all the corn in the storage areas. So, it too was piled high. While I was familiar with beets being stored on the ground this was the first time I'd seen corn stored like this. Eventually there will be a tarp covering the corn. The beets will just set there until they are all processed, probably sometime in February.

It was late morning by the time we reached Alma and made our way to the parking lot at the Heartland trail head in Alma. The weather had changed again. The revised forecast was wrong.

As we were gearing up it began to rain. I guess we were lucky that it started when it did and not a half hour later. It was chilly and being caught in the rain on the trail would not have been pleasant.

When we had entered Alma Heather had seen smoke. Recently there had been a major fire in Alma. She had said she hoped someone was burning something and not that something was burning. We didn't think much more of it.

But as we sat in the car waiting to see what the weather was going to do we heard a steam whistle...and then we saw a steam locomotive backing up on the track directly in front of where we were parked. This explained the smoke Heather had seen earlier.

We didn't get to land paddle, but we did get to see  this wonderful relic from railroad days past. The trail we would have been land paddling was once a railway. A pleasant surprise indeed.

And, we saw a scooter. In the time we were in Michigan I think we only saw a handful of bikes and those were on the trip home after the weather had changed yet again and things were warmer.
Can you find the scooter in this picture? We saw him just as it began to sprinkle. If he had very far to go he got wet.

Since it was time for lunch we headed for The Great Wall. We discovered this restaurant on an earlier trip. It was raining very hard by the time we got there.

We watched it rain as we waited for our food.
Vegetable Lo Mein for her and Vegetable Egg Fu Young for me.

Eventually the rain settled into a drizzle.
After we finished lunch we went back to Dad's and took a nice long nap. I guess we were worn out from the travels of the days before.


  1. I sorry you got rained out, I wanted to see the land paddling - I'm intrigued. Are the long boards the same as the long skateboards like I've seen some of the kids use? Closest I've come to something like this is inline skating which I enjoy, but haven't done for a long time.

  2. We were actually quite lucky with the weather considering the forecasts when we left. We really hadn't expected to land paddle, but we had hoped to. Here's a link to a "How to" video about land paddling:

    We stick mostly to from Rails to Trails paths. We aren't big on carving the hills or doing flips off the boards.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  3. All that corn makes me think of my first home, the midwest. To live there again...

  4. And soon, even more distance between you and the "back there".

    My daughter lives in Norfolk. She always wanted to stay in the Midwest, but relationship took her East, and now job and singing in the Virginia Symphony Chorus keeps her there. Oh well.

    Thanks for the comment.


  5. I would never have suspected that beets were stored, outside, in piles. Do you know how they can get away with that Something to do with cold weather maybe? I would think rodent infestation would be easy. And just general decomposition, like composting.

  6. wow, symphony chorus? Sounds impressive man! Cool job!

  7. Lori: The beets aren't taken out of the field until it is a certain temperature. I'm not sure what the temperature is, perhaps 50F. So, the beets are cool to begin with and then the winter temps keep them. A couple years ago there was an unusual warm-up in Michigan during January. It got up to 70F with rain. A bunch of beets spoiled that year.

    Also, sugar itself acts as a preservative. So, it is high sugar content plus cool temps that allow them to "..get away with that".

    About rodents. I asked my Dad. He didn't think rats liked beets. He figured if they did then they'd have them in the fields. And, they don't.

    Thanks for the question. I figured it was the cold, but I didn't know that the company wouldn't let beets be harvested if it was above a certain temperature. I'd never even thought about mice and rats.