Day 1: Chicago to Lincoln

I have to compliment the Departments of Transportation for the states of Illinois and Iowa … they managed to make sure that they both completely tore up I-80 at the exact same time, just to slow me down.  A trip that should have taken a total of 7.5 hours took over nine.  In certain parts of Iowa dozens of yards of the westbound interstate were gone (no roadway, no dirt, just open air).  Also:  the weather was hot and humid:  perfect weather for staying awake!  I think states like this could save a lot off money by not buying signs that say “Construction Ahead” ….. instead, just buy signs that read “No Construction:  next mile”.  They wouldn’t need that many.

Something I did notice on my travels through Iowa:  I passed a lot of truck heading the other way that had these long, somewhat cylindrical white looking things on their trailers …. always in pairs, and everyone (at least a dozen) with wide load cars preceeding them.  I couldn’t figure out what they werer until I got to southwestern Iowa.  Apparently, southwestern Iowa has invested heavily in wind power.  I passed three large wind farms with the enormous modern three arm windmills.  The second one I passed might have had as many as 70 of them spread over several square miles.  I think the trucks were carrying these arms for new windmills.  I can only hope they were going to Illinois, though I suspect they were not.

I did take an hour to visit one of my favorite museums:  the Strategic Air and Space Museum, which is near the former headquarters of the Strategic Air Command (between Omaha and Lincoln).  They have a gret many artifacts, uniforms, weapons, bombs, missiles … and a few airplanes. 

They have numerous exhibits related to science and history, generally as they apply to the military or aerospace technology.  The new exhibit was a film and photo exhibit of survivors from the Buchenwald (sp?) Concetration Camp (which I think was the first camp liberated by American soldiers).  Next year there will be an exhibit on the inventions of DaVinci.  One of the more moving (maybe morbid, but ccertainly educational) exhibits covers how the military handled MIAs in Korea.  It includes blowups of leters and telegrams sent to the families (I can’t even imagine what it must have been like to get one of those).  It included notes and research done by researchers who would try and determine the relative likelihood of a person being missing, and possibly alive, vs. missing and most likely dead.  Obviously, this is something that the military does not want to screw up, and it was interesting to see how the researchers operated (in one case, a Korean War pilot’s death was confirmed based partially on discussions with Soviet military people;  they weren’t directly involved, but were observing what was happening, and help pinpoint where things happened and the likelihood of a survivor.  It has a little bit for everyone, given there is as much  about “the people” (pilots, mechanics, airmen, their families) as there is about the hardware.  There is a smaller section that focuses more on space, but it is rather small by comparison to the rest.

The planes are all restored there by volunteers in a giant restoration room (which you can’t enter, but it does have a viewing gallery), then they are put on display.  You can walk up to them, touch them (just can’t go in them …. though in a few cases they have parts of the cockpit available for you to sit in).  There is a B-52, a B-29, and one of the actual Doolittle radiers.  The SR-71 is in the main lobby (very cool).  The last time I was there, they had received a B-1 which was being restored.  It is now on display …. and had one of the actuators taken out and on display that controlled the swept wing function.  There is also a former hydrogen bomb (sans warhead …. I think).  All in all, very cool.  I did buy myself a tie that shows pictures of the sun in various wavelengths.

Upon arrival at the hotel, I was informed that Michael Jackson had passed on.  I was never a fan, though my brother was a big fan in the day.

Tomorrow, I am off to Denver, and I will take the day after that off to spend time with my aunt, uncle and cousin and her adorable daughter.

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One Response to Day 1: Chicago to Lincoln

  1. Alan P says:

    Glad you liked the museum. I was there a few years ago with the professional society, and got some pictures with the H-bomb.

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