Thursday, 4 July 2013

Day 17 - Flying North to Idaho

Today marked my Mason-Dixon line, the halfway point in this leg of my Nuffield journey and it was back in the air for the trip from Oklahoma City to Lewiston, Idaho via Salt Lake City.  Oklahoma said farewell with a great sunrise.  It was an early start to the day and the transition from Motel 6 to airport thankfully went well.
Flying in over Salt Lake City gave an incredible view of why the area is named as it is.  There were miles and miles of lakes all with their salt deposits on the banks.  The water there is 4 times saltier than natural sea water.
I arrived in Lewiston in a very small little jet aeroplane after a short hop and a time zone switch to a traditional walk down the steps and onto the tarmac.  The daytime temperature's here ware currently hotter than in Oklahoma at this time.  During the afternoon it got up to 109 degrees!  In 2010 Idaho, nicknamed the Gem State,  had a population of 1.57 million people in an area of 214, 315 km, meaning there are 7 people per Km.  Great Britain as a contrast has about 257 people/Km.  Agriculture is important to the state of Idaho and it produces about 1/4 of the potatoes consumed in the US as well as wheat, apples, corn, barley, sugars beet and hops.
I was met at the airport by Robert and Rhonda Blair.  Robert is an Eisenhower Fellow from 2011and  in 2009 was named the Precision Farmer of The Year.  I knew we were going to get along this week! We all loaded up and headed in to Lewiston for grocery shopping and located a new BBQ ready for the celebrations on the 4th of July (American Independence Day).  The previous one got smashed up in a storm.
We headed out of town and saw the first combining team in the area starting on some human consumption peas.  The picture below doesn't do it justice but the self levelling of the combine was very impressive.  There are some very steep banks these guys are farming, with some at angles of 45 degrees and still combined, across the slope!
We headed onto the farm, situated East of the Cascade mountains, near a small town called Kendrick, in Central Northern Idaho, where I met Robert's two son's Dillon and Logan, who had been out swathing (mowing) alfalfa for hay while we were away.  We took a drive out to Helmer for a fabulous homemade burger supper and drove back through some wonderful rolling farmland to give me an appreciation of the area, topography and scale.  When we got home the pork and beef were prepared by Robert in readiness for the 12 hours in the smoker tomorrow.

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