States that begin with an I, and some that don’t

Captain Andirus and myself recently went on a trip out to some of the I states. Crossing through Ohio and West Virgina, we finally made it out to visit Anthro Cook, Majesty, The Durn and an unexpected trip to Madison. The trip was quick fun and relieving to finally see this farm of sorts that Majesty works on. Everyone seems to be doing pretty well, everyone was very welcoming of the new me, oh and I can’t forget all the delicious food.

Our first stop is Anthro Cook who now lives in Champagne Illinois with his wife who both work at University of Illinois. They got lucky and found a program that hired the both of them for the same department. They live in a pretty nice house in suburbia right now until they feel out where they’d want to buy a house. Champaign/Urbana is very nice, wide streets, nice campus, but there isn’t a hill in the entire place. No, not even a little one, it is flat flat flat. This is where my dad went to town and while he loved the program he was in he hated the town. I think the town has improved somewhat since, but it certainly hasn’t gotten any hillier since then.

And of course can’t forget the most important part about Illinois, corn. Like the Morrow Plot the second oldest continuously used crop rotation plots, first planted in 1876. Corn matters so much here that then built the library underground because the didn’t want to shade the Morrow Plot.

Morrow Plot

Anthro Cook caught us up on life in Canada, South Carolina and expressed much more glee in living in Illinois, not nearly as cold or racist. And he obviously didn’t and never disappoints with the food and cooked us both delicious food that filled us to the brink every day. It was great to see him, hopefully it won’t be another three years before the next time.

Next stop was outside of Iowa city, The Durn’s house. A favorite, awesome anth professor of many and his equally radical wife who was managing editor of Voices of Central Pennsylvania (progressive magazine in SC). I also hadn’t seen them in 3 years and was happy to know that I was one of the several students The Durn had hoped would visit him. He was on some medication for a recent brain surgery and was a bit slower moving. But he gave a couple of impassioned rants and his wife made up for him by being super talkative and a great tour guide of their property. The property was very cool and large. They are working on bringing back some prairie land from invasive species and planting some fruit trees and a nice garden. We had a great time with them, spending our first night drinking with them and some other middle-aged ladies, wasn’t even a tad weird rather it was a great great time.

After a night and day at The Durns we finally saw Majesty, who (to our relief) wasn’t starving or beaten down but happy and upbeat as he planned his housing situation for the winter in Iowa. The stories of Versaland got scary the closer we got, describing a Lord of the Flies type farm with everything but the pig heads on sticks. The following day we saw the school bus Majesty was living in and all the trailers and all the trees that had worked to plant at Versaland. We met their fearless leader, The G Man, and all the other guys staying on the farm.

The farm was very nice, with a lot of cool projects being headed up by The G Man. The two other farm workers were very nice and friendly and The G Man was very intense but cool, the type of person who would buy a school bus and let Majesty live in it. Sadly our schedules didn’t align so we only spent a little time with The G Man but he certainly has a bunch of innovative projects going on there, and most of them are right up Majesty’s alley.

Versaland Parking

Bus

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Our furthest destination was Madison, Wisconsin. This is where Big S went to school and I completely understand why she tried to go to grad school there too. The town is very spacious and not at all cramped like State College. There are tons of bike lanes and even more people biking around. I swear they even have more trees than Dark Forest, or at least just as many. And then we stayed at Nottingham, a coop on the edge of one of their two huge lakes. The place is beautiful, so beautiful. I even considered moving there for a couple of days, especially after hanging out with the people at Nottingham and after being offered a job at a bike shop that was a huge version of the shop in my basement.

On the way home we stopped at Anthro Cooks again, and made it back home to Pittsburgh the following night. What a whirlwind of a trip, I must say that Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin have it going on. Though Illinois is really really really flat, and most of Iowa isn’t to hilly either.

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