Friday, August 7, 2015

Chapter 38 - Oacoma to Jackson, Minnesota

Wednesday, August 5th:
For the first time in quite some time we decided to stay at a campground for only one night instead of two or more.  We selected Jackson, Minnesota as our stopover location simply because it was about half way between Oacoma and Minneapolis.  It was not on the Oregon Trail nor was it on the Lewis and Clark Trail. It was simply an old farming town in southwestern Minnesota.  Fortunately our somewhat random selection of the Jackson KOA provided to be satisfactory for we had full service hookups, we were in a shaded location, and we had internet access that actually did provide us with real workable internet access. The weather while somewhat cloudy most of the day was still pleasant with the high temperatures only in the low 80s. 

Since we have planned to spend only one night here in Jackson we figured we had better go into downtown Jackson and learn what we can about the area. Also very important, I wanted to find a liquor store to replenish my long depleted gin supply and Kathy needed to stop in their local grocery store.  We found both and we also learned that Jackson was an old town that must have stagnated over the years for most of the stores and businesses looked like business was slowing or over. There was no one on the sidewalks and there was no traffic on their Main Street.  We suspect that the few cars that we did see in the parking spaces (besides our own as shown in this photograph) may be cars owned by the store operators.  Unfortunately this situation may be typical of small towns across America.

One of the most intriguing things about the area around Jackson, Wisconsin were all of the wind turbine farms. From what we learned via an internet search is that in Jackson County and its neighboring county of Martin there are 67 wind turbines that are on land owned by forty-three different farmers. The landowner farmers partnered with two energy renewal companies to build the wind turbines on 8,900 acres of farm land most of which is covered by corn and soy plantings. It was fairly easy to find the wind turbines despite the fact that most of them were on farm lands relatively remote from the city of Jackson.  The land here in southwest Minnesota is flat and except for the trees around the farm homes and their barns and silos, the land is treeless. All that we could see in all directions were fields of corn and soy.  The turbines rise to over 260 feet in the air and the blades spread 250 feet in diameter.  It is very hard to hide such large structures even when they are located four or five miles away.

Unfortunately for the wind turbine industry it is very difficult to make money not only because the cost of building and then maintaining the turbines is very expensive but also because the wind is inconsistent and without a fairly good breeze the blades do not turn and energy is not produced.  Consequently some of the companies have declared bankruptcy which in turn has caused financial losses for some of the farmers. Despite encouragement and financial help from the Federal Government as well as the Minnesota State Government in this case, the energy from wind business is a very risky investment at best. At least for us it was kind of fun driving through the back roads of southwestern Minnesota looking up into the sky and watching the slowly turning blades.  One other fun observation that we made at the time was that right under all of these wind turbines were acres and acres of corn but very few cow herds to eat all of the corn and way to much corn for human consumption.  Obviously, much of the corn was being grown to produce an ethanol additive for gasoline which probably at least in the long run, will be another money losing operation for some of the farmers.  Personally I strongly believe that government does not know best. The decline of the wind turbine industry and the ethanol industry may very well prove me right in the long run in this regard.

Tomorrow we are driving up to the Minneapolis/St Paul area where we plan to stay at the St. Paul East RV Park that is located just off I-94 east of St Paul, Minnesota.  For the first time in more than a month rain is expected so we plan to leave early hoping to avoid arriving at our new home in the pouring rain.  Frankly it is remarkable that this has not happened to us since we left Florida on May 26th.


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