Corn Palace, Giant Prairie Dog, and the Badlands

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Sun was out and it was finally a nice day. Although we were trying to stay off highways we decided to take I90 into South Dakota. We could not believe that the speed limit was 80, it dropped to 65 or 70 for road work!! I90 turned out to be a good choice as there was very little traffic and there was a lot to see along the way. Windmill farms were everywhere we looked and roadside sculptures which I grabbed a few pictures of. The photo of the “Dignity: Earth and Sky” I did not take – but I downloaded it from the internet. It was so beautiful, but I could not get my camera phone out quickly enough. There were also interesting items in the rest areas. I couldn’t believe there was a working pay phone!

First stop today was at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD. Mitchell’s Corn Palace was built in 1892 but was rebuilt twice more and finally was made permanent in 1921. It is covered with murals made of corn cobs that are nailed on the canvas to create a scene. Each year a theme is chosen and the murals are rebuilt using different colored corn: red, brown, black, blue, white, orange, calico, yellow and green corn.

The Corn Palace was very interesting and contained walls upon walls of the chronological history and what was going on in the world at the time. We, of course, purchased some chocolate-drizzled kettle corn before leaving!

Next stop was a giant prairie dog statue along with a viewing area where you could see and feed hundreds of prairie dogs.

As we drove on I90 was caught little glimpses of the Badlands. It was more spectacular than I could have imagined. The first full view brought tears to my eyes! We couldn’t stop taking pictures! Once in the Badlands National Park we decided to head to the camp ground to take a shower. It had been quite a while (since Lake Pratt in MI) since we had a shower. This one was coin-operated and for $1.25 you could get a ten-minute shower. Ten minutes is actually a long enough time to get everything done. We also filled all of our water jugs. Now that we were in the mid-west where there were fewer towns we would need to keep a handle on our water!

Once showered and water-filled we headed back to the scenic drive through the Badlands. Just so spectacular! We even saw some bison as we exited the park.

After the drive through the Park we decided to hit Walls Pharmacy, a famous pharmacy just 10 miles away. During the drive on I90 we saw so many billboards devoted to Walls Pharmacy – reminded me of that place in South Caroline called “South of the Border”. It wasn’t really anything and all of the eaters in the area were closed so we headed to our boondocking spot for the night.

There is an area just above the Badlands set aside for boondocking. It is right along the edge and many trailers, campers, vans, tents were positioned right on the edge, so close it looked like they would fall into the ravine! We decided to park up on a raised area that was back from the edge. It was perfect and we had a beautiful view.

A big storm was coming. The wind was whipping and we could see lightning off in the distance. I was happy to be situated and we made a quick dinner of PBJ. It was far to windy to try to cook.

We both slept very well and woke to beautiful sunshine. We took a short walk and ended up meeting a couple that had a 45-foot rig! They had been staying at Walmart parking lots because they were too big to fit in the campgrounds. We found out that they have a place in Apollo Beach (near Mom’s) and their home was in Michigan’s upper Pennisula near where we had camped. To boot, they knew the owners of the Sweedish Pantry where we ate in Escanaba, MI! Such a small world.

After talking with them for a while we finished our morning routine and headed to Walls for coffee and then back into the park to further explore and find a place to cook breakfast.

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