My Sidetrip to Heartland Mills
After reading Proth5's account of her trip to visit Heartland Mills, I knew I should take the next opportunity I got to drive there and pick up some flour. After all, they're just a little katty-corner across the state from me. Mrs PG and I decided that the first weekend in May would be good time to head west to Colorado for some scenery, high altitude-we're only 770 ft ASL here- driving, and some dining. Well, I admit I tried some CO beers too. The day before we left, I called Heartland Mills and placed a small order with the information that i would pick it up on our way back.
Early Wednesday, we rolled out of Colorado Springs ahead of the snow and went east on CO 94. Should you look at a road atlas or map of Colorado, you'd think it's a fairly straight road. It is. It goes on and on. The saving grace for the road is that the scenery changes as you go down in altitude and get further away from Denver. You'll soon notice that, hey, there are no utility poles out here, no traffic, and very few cattle either. The country isn't for agoraphobics. Despite my wife's frustration with me on the subject, I find taking backroads, the "blue highways", every bit as interesting as the author William Least- Heat Moon did.
As we got closer to Kansas, wheat fields started to appear and the wheat really does wave in a sea of green. There has been a persistent severe drought in Western Kansas that will result in yields of at least 30% below average yield. Tuck some money away folks, flour will be affected this year because the drought goes through Oklahoma and Texas as well. The areas where most of the US Hard red winter wheat is grown.
By the time we got to Marienthal, the small towns were more frequent and the occasional gas or oil well appeared in the fields. Marienthal is a small, population 200, unincorporated town. On one side of town is the unassuming house that serves as Heartland Mills' office and on the other is the warehouse where I picked up my flour. There's a wheat field just an easy 5 iron shot away from the industrial looking warehouse. I assume that the mill is there as well but I didn't get a tour with my purchase. I was really pleased with the whole deal because I wasn't sure that they took my order seriously since I had never ordered before and my explanation of how I was going to pick it up on my way home might have sounded flaky to some. But it was ready, well packaged, and I was greeted by cheerful people.
I suggest that anyone that finds their travels taking them from SE Colorado east towards Kansas City and beyond, or vice versa, check their schedules to see if they can squeeze the same kind of side trip that my wife and I made. Not simply for a business transaction to get some really fine flour but also to get a sense of the countryside. Just east of Marienthal are a couple feed lots and if you've never thought much about the beef you eat, your next hamburger won't be quite the same after the experience of passing by a feed lot. It will open your eyes, nose, and mind. There are no McDonalds or Starbucks, just big blue skies, wide horizons, and open two lanes.