July 5-7 - Mitchell SD etc
300 miles is about as far as we like to drive the RV in one day, and Mitchell, SD is about 300 miles west of Rochester, MN. We found an inexpensive RV park tucked in behind the Super 8 Motel and stayed for two nights.
Wed 7/5 - On our way out of Minnesota, Judy spotted a sign for a "pioneer village" at Worthington, MN, so we pulled off I-90 to check it out. Seems the local historical society has assembled a complete turn-of-the-century town - about 30 buildings. It was both interesting and kind of scary - this is meant to be a historical exhibit, but most of the buildings - especially the homes and churches - were very familiar to both of us from our childhood days. Maybe we should be declared historically significant. :-). Gas prices in South Dakota were noticably lower than those in Minnesota, so we delayed fueling the RV until we got to Sioux Falls. That's the lowest we'd let the gas get before refilling, and the tab was just under $200 for 65+ gallons. Good thing mileage is relatively good in these flat states.
Thur 7/6 - You can't stop in Mitchell without visiting "The World's Only Corn Palace". The current incarnation of this effort to put Mitchell on the map - the third in a series of Corn Palaces - is a combination tourist attraction and civic auditorium that is decorated each year with murals "painted" by nailing up corn cobs of the appropriate colors to fill in the colors. The town is very corn-oriented, with corn on the lamp posts, street signs, etc. They're very serious about this. Our second attraction - the town has only four places listed as attractions - was the Prehistoric Indian Village, an on-going archeological dig of a Native American village last occupied about 1,000 AD. The dig itself is under a permanent dome covering the locations of three Indian lodges. There was a team of British students digging the day we were there, and the tour was very interesting and informative. If you ever find yourself in Mitchell, you probably need to glance at the Corn Palace, but be sure to visit the Prehistoric Indian Village. It's a winner.
Side note: While in Wisconsin, we discovered Culvers, a midwest restaurant chain featuring Butterburgers and Frozen Custard. We've been enjoying Culvers meals and desserts in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and now South Dakota. We'll have to find a new addiction when we get west of the Dakotas. After a Culvers dinner, we unfolded our bikes and rode a mile or so up and down the frontage road in front of the RV park. Phew. We gotta get in shape.
Fri 7/7 - About 300 miles west of Mitchell is Rapid City, SD - in the Black Hills, close to Mt. Rushmore, the Crazy Horse mountain carving, and Custer State Park, just to mention a few places. We'd spent a week of our honeymoon in the Rapid City Area 14 years ago, and we were looking forward to refreshing our memories. So we drained tanks, hooked up and hit the road right after breakfast.
Al's Highlight - The reason for this stop was purely a matter of spacing and timing. If it had been closer or further away, we'd have stopped someplace else. But that ancient Indian Village was a neat surprise, and our guide was a very well informed 5th grade teacher who spends her summers teaching tourists about the pre-history of the local natives. Truth be told, the Corn Palace was pretty neat, too, but it can't possibly be a highlight. I mean, what would people say?
Judy's Highlight - Since I can't pick the Corn Palace - see above :-) I must say I got a real kick out of all the old buildings in the pioneer village in Worthington. I got a terrible attack of covetousness when I saw that two-manual pedal organ with pipes ! in the old church there. I had never seen one like it before. And I got my first permanent at age three with the help of a contraption just like that torture machine pictured in the slide show.
Click here to see a slideshow of some of our pictures from this leg of the trip.
Stay tuned . . .