Sunday, June 29, 2008

Wall, South Dakota

As you travel west on I-90 signs for Wall Drugs show up with increasing regularity. It is a lot like the signs for South of the Border on I-95 South. So..we stopped at Wall Drug in Wall South Dakota. In 1931 Dorothy and Ted Husteads had gone looking for a drug store in a small town with a Catholic church. They found Wall Drug and decided to give it a go for 5 years. Mind you this was a very small store in a very small town that was very poor. They barely kept it going up until right before their 5 years was up. Just as they thought they'd have to give up in the summer of 1936 Dorothy had the idea to offer free cold water to travelers going to see the just completed Mount Rushmore. Ted and a high school boy started putting up signs.. "Get a soda . . . Get a root beer . . . turn next corner . . . Just as near . . . To Highway 16 & 14. . . Free Ice Water. . . Wall Drug." Each phrase went on a 12 by 36 inch board and were spaced out so the people could read them as they drove. By the time they got back to the store, people had already begun showing up for their free ice water. Dorothy was running all around to keep up. Ted pitched in alongside her. For hours they poured gallons of ice water, made ice cream cones and gave highway directions. When the travelers started on their way again, refreshed and ready for new adventures, they gave them hearty thanks. The ice water signs had worked. Today this enterprise has grown to cover a full block in the town. There is a cafe that seats over 500 people and a large variety of items offered for sale. From the very cheap tourist souvenir to some very nice jewelry and artwork.
We had a pretty decent lunch at the cafe and wandered around for about an hour looking at all of the "stuff". It was a good stop but like South of the visit will do us..probably not a place we'll stop again.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Spearfish South Dakota

Still traveling west on I-90 toward Gillette. We stopped in Spearfish for a couple of nights and stayed at Chris Campground. We had a great view of a mountain outside the window. There were lambs and baby goats in a pen nearby. Ellie wouldn't go near them. I think she is still scared of the fence since she got shocked by an electric fence in Alabama. 1 day we went on the scenic highway going out of Spearfish through Lead to Deadwood. Very pretty trip. We stopped for lunch in Lead at a restaurant that also had a casino. There are a lot of stores and restaurants in South Dakota that also have small casinos. We only playing allowed!!

I hope you enjoy the slide show. Love to all. Deb

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Corn Palace

We spent two days in Mitchell at R&R Campground. A good stopping place when traveling on I-90. With our Passport America the rate for full hook up was great at $15.00 a night. In Mitchell corn rules. The high school sports teams are named the Kernels. The radio station is KRON and to celebrate the fertility of the South Dakota corn fields there is the Mitchell Corn Palace. The Corn Palace has a mad mix of onion domes and minarets and looks like it is straight out of czarist Russia. It is built out of reinforced concrete, not corn. Every spring and early summer, its exterior is completely covered with thousands of bushels of native South Dakota corn, grain and grasses that are arranged into large murals. Every year there is a new theme. Locals take great pride in the Palace's "corn-septual art" and "ear-chitecture." Mitchell isn't called the Corn Capital of the World for nothing. There is a free tour and the facility is used for various visiting entertainers as well as the local Kernels sporting events. This was quite a sight to behold. In the gift shop they offered anything/everything made by or that looked like corn. I resisted most purchases but just had to get a pack of their popcorn.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Porter SculptureGarden

Tuesday morning we continued on toward Wyoming. About 30 miles west of Sioux Falls we stopped at the Porter Sculpture Garden. We were met by the artist Wayne Porter. By far the most striking sculpture is the Bull Head. We learned that the head represents some extinct Egyptian Long Horn ?!?!?! and is made mostly out of railroad plates welded together. Wayne is truly gifted with a welding rod even if his topics are a little bit bizarre (in my opinion). The eye of the bull has a very human look to it. Several odd skeleton beasts guard the Bull and the real treat comes when you look inside the bull head. There is some kind of tortured demon hanging behind the bridge of the Bull's nose and it is quite freaky. We were told to watch out for the bats and sure enough several were hanging around inside the bull. Ellie was allowed to walk the path around with us. However she didn't think it was so great. At one point she walked as far away from the sculptures as her 20' lease would allow. I think she was worried one of the sculptures would "get her".

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

On into South Dakota

On Monday we went north again. A very short travel day of about 70 miles. We stopped for 1 night in Sioux Falls. We wanted to see the falls the town is named for. We spent a very expensive night at the KOA, but it seemed the best choice based on it's location and having it a very good Internet signal.
The Falls Park is right in the middle of town on the Big Sioux River. Once upon a time a mill operated beside the river. A lack of wheat and increased production cost eventually shut it down. The building later burned. The brick ruins are still on site. We spent a couple of hours walking around and going to the top of the observation tower. While there we became concerned about a mama duck and her 3 ducklings. They were on a very small island in the middle of the river right next to the falls. They seemed to be eating something on the edge of the rocks. We watched for a while and at one point thought 1 duckling had gone over the falls. Happily we were mistaken when it came back up on top of the rock. We talked to someone in the gift shop that told us that many ducks and geese came to the river. So we left reassured the ducks were probably going to be OK.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Nebraska and Iowa

We've spent this week at the Scenic Campground in South Sioux City Nebraska. This is a city park on the Missouri River right across from Sioux City Iowa. The park has been nice with a great price. $ 17.00 a night for water and electric. And with the bathhouse close by we managed to use our grey tank for a full week without dumping. We were happy about that. Dumping meant moving the house to the dump station. Not a big deal..just didn't want to do it if we didn't have to. So..water conservation were the buzz words for the week. This is the first time we've camped right on the water anywhere outside North Carolina. It was great being able to watch the activity on the river. Mostly recreational boats and jet skis. Commercial boats don't travel this part of the river anymore.

While traveling around town this week we learned about the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Our first stop was the Lewis and Clark Interpretative Center. The center focuses on a day in the life of the explorers as they traveled through what is now the Sioux City area. The death and burial of Sergeant Charles Floyd on Aug. 20, 1804, is at the heart of the story. The expedition as a finely tuned military operation comes to life in exhibits that use dozens of interactive devices.

Outside the museum is the Discovery Garden that displays native grasses and flowers. The Lewis & Clark Expedition set out from St. Louis, Mo., on May 14, 1804, with instructions from President Thomas Jefferson. Documenting, collecting and preserving plant specimens were among the instructions. The explorers succeeded in returning with almost 200 species. Among them are species collected between Onawa, Iowa, and Nebraska’s Niobrara River.

We also visited the Sgt Floyd Monument. This 100' high stone obelisk memorializes Sgt. Charles Floyd. It is overlooking a breathtaking view of the Missouri River. It was the first historic landmark registered by the U.S. Government in 1960.

Later we visited the Trinity Heights.. Queen of Peace.
The development of Trinity Heights began around 1985, when Father Harold Cooper, then pastor of St. Joseph Church in Sioux City, conceived the idea to bring a statue of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Queen of Peace to Sioux City. He approached a small group of laymen and generated enthusiasm for the project.
Father Cooper had seen a thirty-foot stainless steel statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Santa Clara, California, and contacted Father John Sweeney at his parish in Santa Clara. This stimulant led Father Cooper to form a non-profit corporation called the Queen of Peace Apostolate, which was incorporated in Iowa on May 20th, 1985.
From such a small beginning, his dream has grown into the development of Trinity Heights, located on a wooded 70 acres, in the northeast corner of Sioux City. People of all faiths come to visit this peaceful area.

Also within the chapel we saw a carved life size rendition of the Last Supper. After winning national and international carving competitions, Mr. Jerry Traufler decided to try the religious theme of the "Last Supper." In 1989 Mr. Traufler asked his wife and friends to pose for photographs, dressed as individual apostles, the Christ figure being the last to be carved. Using these pictures as guides, his rendition of the "Last Supper" soon came to life with his own individual style impressed upon the wooden figures. Mr. Traufler labored seven years to complete his masterpiece.
Jerry and his wife, Arlene wanted to have this religious work of art on display for the public. They also wanted it near their hometown of Le Mars, Iowa so they donated it to Trinity Heights, Queen of Peace where it is on permanent display in the chapel.

One day we took a road trip around the Nebraska countryside. While traveling down Nebraska 20 we ran across this display of windmills. As we prepared to leave, a car stopped and the man inside turned out to be the man responsible for the display. It was a treat to talk to him about his work.
As we went north we came upon the Missouri River again. This part of the river is called the Missouri National Recreational River. In this section the river has been allowed to flow in a "normal" pattern without assistance of the Army Corp on Engineers. It is open for boating, fishing, swimming and generally for enjoyment.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Kansas City and Northward ...on toward Gillette

We spent a quiet few days visiting the Independence/Kansas City Missouri area. I said quiet, and it was except for the thunder storms and tornado watches that occurred over the weekend. They were a little hairy. We don't like wind living in a house on wheels. And we had a leak in the living room. We think a seam had separated a little bit in the main slide out. We moved the slide in and stopped the leak during the storm. Gary fixed the problem the next day once the rain had stopped. And it hasn't leaked again during the other storms we had. Yeah Gary....Mr Fix-it strikes again.

The campground we stayed at was a city park in Independence. Small but nice. A good price with our Escapees discount. While in Kansas City we knew we had to check out the BBQ. After all, we all know North Carolina has the best BBQ in the world. Right!!!
So, we looked up the "best" in KC and decided on Gates BBQ. Gates has been around for more years than I've been alive. When we walked in we were greeted with a LOUD "Hi, May I help you?". The counter person yells this to everyone as they enter. I think she yelled it about every 15 seconds the entire time we were waiting for our order. We ordered a platter called a Four Bone. This included 4 BBQ pork ribs, beef brisket, smoked ham along with 2 sides and white loaf bread for $19.95. Plenty of food for the two of us to share. After paying the cashier we maneuvered our way through the crowd to find a seat. I must say if you like beef brisket, something I don't see that much of in NC BBQ restaurants, Gates sure does it right. It was moist and tender. They had three kinds of sauce to use if you wanted. The Original, Sweet and Smokey and also a very Hot. It was OK, but a little salty for my taste. The beef didn't really need the sauce the taste was excellent as it was. The ribs were good but I still think Texas Roadhouse does them better. The smoked ham was easily forgettable. I really liked their baked beans and potato salad. Other than being yelled at when we entered (and hearing it for everyone else that entered too), the experience was very good. We even had enough left over to enjoy it again for lunch the next day.

We left KC on Monday to travel further north. Thru Missouri and went most of the way through Iowa before stopping for the night in South Sioux City, Nebraska. We learned that Verizon doesn't have much presence in western Iowa. While there were the occasional cell tower on I-29 none of them seemed to be Verizon. We checked out a couple of campgrounds along the way but didn't stop because the cell signal in the area was so weak. I need a reasonable strength signal so I can log in and work. Finally after about 300 miles we stopped in Sioux City Iowa. After calling the campground we learned it was across the Missouri River in Nebraska. After crossing the bridge we found the campground right on the river. The cell signal was OK..fairly strong but not broadband fast. Adequate for the job but definitely slower than I like. The campground is another City park and the best price we've paid for a while. $17.00 for water and electric. And we're parked about 75 feet from, facing the river. We can look out the living room window to see what is happening on the water. Several people have been fishing from the bank and we've watched boats and an occasional jet ski too. Pretty cool!!!
The river is running fast and has some debris. I'm guessing because of the flooding that has been occurring.
Along the way north we saw quite a few flooded areas in Iowa. Even 1 exit from I-29 was closed due to the water being across the road. There were lots of corn fields with standing water. This part of Iowa doesn't appear to be as hard hit as Cedar Rapids and the towns along the Mississippi in the eastern part of the state. But still you can really see the evidence of all of the rain that has occurred.

Today we went to another BBQ restaurant that has a good reputation in Missouri and Iowa. Dave's Famous BBQ in Sioux City. Again we ordered a platter to share. This one had 3 BBQ pork ribs, Georgia chopped pork and beef brisket. It also came with corn on the cob, baked beans, potato salad, french frys, corn bread and for desert Strawberry Shortcake. Wow!!! A feast for $15.99. It was good but overall we decided we liked Gates better. I did like the sauce better. Not so salty.