Sunday, November 7, 2010

16 Hours Looking Out the Windshield

CarMa - This Ma sure does do some driving! This weekend's drive consisted of Emily and yours truly and a pickup truck with topper (instead of the usual minivan) heading to La Moille, Illinois to pick up a couple new sheep. Emily hasn't been interested in obtaining a DRIVERS LICENSE yet, so I had plenty of steering wheel time. Poor Em can't read, play with her iPod, or even spend much time looking at a map or she gets carsick. To help pass the time, she took pictures of interesting things along our journey. Here's a micro-version of our trip!

The beautiful rock formations along I-94. From...

If a traveler, on his way from eastern United States to the Pacific coast, be fortunate enough to cross central Wisconsin by daylight, he will pass through the village of Camp Douglas [western Juneau County] or the village of Merrillan [northern Jackson County]. For many miles nearby, he may see landscape features totally unlike those anywhere else in the United States east of the Mississippi River. The hills of the region near Camp Douglas are buttes and mesas. They have the straight lines, steep cliffs and sharp angles of an arid country rather than the soft curves of a humid region.

The features to be seen are (a) isolated, rocky hills which resemble ruined castles, (b) grotesque towers and crags of sandstone along a line of bold, irregular bluffs, and (c) an unusually flat plain which stretches away beyond the northern and eastern horizons. The bluffs and steep slopes on the west and south form the escarpment at the border of the Western Upland. The level country is the Central Plain of Wisconsin.

The irregular bluffs are part of an escarpment capped by resistant rock. The isolated castles and crags are outliers of the escarpment, left behind in its recession to the south and west under the attack of weather, wind and streams. The flat plain has been made by the wearing down of weak and nearly- horizontal sedimentary rocks, and by deposition of unconsolidated materials upon the surface.

Absence of glacial erosion and of direct glacial deposition make it possible for the rather fragile rock forms produced by weathering and wind work to persist and to dominate the landscape. These forms near Camp Douglas and Merrillan are not repeated westward until the Great Plains in the Dakotas and Montana, and even these are partly in glaciated territory.

The evergreen trees, clinging in precarious positions on the rocky buttes and mesas of the Camp Douglas Country, and the tamaracks on the swampy, level plain, are among the first forerunners of the northern forest. They furnish a notable contrast to the open prairies near the Great Lakes and to the deciduous trees of the East and South. The evergreen trees show definitely, however, that the region near Camp Douglas is not arid. The sandy soil makes the precipitation less effective because much of the rainfall sinks into the ground at once. Wind work is dominant, not because we are in arid lands but because we are in a sandy part of the Driftless Area. The smaller plants on the hills at Camp Douglas, and at other places in the Driftless Area, includes several types of dwarf cacti such as the prickly pear. The evergreens, suggesting the North, and the spiny plants, suggesting the West, mark this as a frontier region for the traveler.

Wind towers are EVERYWHERE!

Nuclear power too. This is the Byron Generating Station.

Even hot air balloons were flying over our journey!

This cutie, along with her camera-shy friend provided plenty of "music" for us on the way home!