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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Day 36: National Monuments

Starting Mileage: 8102.8
Today we left earlier, a touch before 7am.  Well, it was not ment to be! I left my still charging camera battery at the hotel. We had to go back and get it!  It was 7:30 before we got on the road again!
A cowboy 2 stories tall!
On our way to Custer State Park. We were on our way to do the wild animal loop. We had read on the internet that it takes about 1/2 an hour and you will see buffalo, deer, etc if you get there before it gets too hot.  Well, at the park entrance the nice lady who was about to take our money, told us to expect it to take about 4 hours.  We, sadly, were not staying long enough in South Dakota  to do this and the other things we planned.  It is on the list for next time
BIKERS! The annual event that is Sturgis starts on August 3. However, they are rolling in now. SO many bikes on the roads.
From a roadside pull off! Can you guess where we are going?
At the gateway. The park itself if free, but parking was 11 dollars.  We got there early, which was good, lower crowds and less heat.  We got there about 9
He is wearing his Jr. Ranger hat. We did not get to do the Jr. Ranger booklet at the badlands. The Ranger gave us the book and told us to finish it and mail it back and they would mail him his badge.  We will do that soon
The family!
Looking at the artifacts
Working on his Jr. Ranger booklet.  I had to write it out for him, he told me the answers. He needs more practice to write small enough to fit in the boxes
The Ranger made sure he knew the answers from the booklet before he took his oath to be a Jr. Ranger
Showing off his Jr. Ranger badge. He is looking forward to getting more!

Blowing up part of the mountain! Just like Mr. Borglum did so many years ago!
I am not going to put in a history bit on Mt. Rushmore. There is so much out there!

We had a good time. It was good to get there early. When we pulled in, we were the second car in our line. When we left, there was over a mile backup to get into the parking structure
Mark was thrilled!
These tunnels are so beautiful
Random bit of weirdness on the side of the road!
The world's largest rocking chair.
We decided to stop for lunch in Deadwood. Thought it might be fun. Our first stop was Mt. Moriah Cemetery. We went to see Wild Bill Hickok's grave.
History Bit:
Mount Moriah Cemetery on Mount Moriah in Deadwood, Lawrence County, South Dakota is the burial place of Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane andSeth Bullock, and other notable figures of the Wild West. By tradition, the American flag flies over the cemetery 24 hours a day, rather than merely from sunrise to sunset.
In the early years of Deadwood, there were two graveyards: The Ingelside Cemetery, which was part of the way up Mount Moriah and was filled quickly in the first few years it was open, and the Catholic Cemetery. Many prospectors, miners, settlers, prostitutes and children were buried within the Ingelside Cemetery, alongside Wild Bill Hickok and Preacher Smith.
In the 1880s it was determined that the land where Ingelside Cemetery was located could be better used for housing. Most of the bodies there were moved up the mountain to Mount Moriah and re-interred. However, since many graves were unmarked or unknown some were not moved. Today it is not uncommon for people working in their garden or remodelling a basement or shed to find human bones as a left over from the Ingelside Cemetery days.
Mount Moriah's main attraction is Wild Bill's gravesite. Calamity Jane and Potato Creek Johnny are buried next to him.

Wild Bill's Grave. 
History Bit: (short version)
James Butler Hickok (May 27, 1837 – August 2, 1876), better known as Wild Bill Hickok, was a folk hero of the American Old West. His skills as a gunfighter and scout, along with his reputation as a lawman, provided the basis for his fame, although some of his reported exploits are fictionalized.
Hickok came to the West as a fugitive from justice, first working as a stagecoach driver, before he became a lawman in the frontier territories of Kansas and Nebraska. He fought for the Union Army during the American Civil War, and gained publicity after the war as a scout, marksman, actor, and professional gambler. Between his law-enforcement duties and gambling, which easily overlapped, Hickok was involved in several notable shootouts. He was shot and killed while playing poker in the Number Ten Saloon in Deadwood, Dakota Territory (now South Dakota).

At this point I still was thinking Deadwood might be fun
The town, at high noon
No gunfights today. 
Deadwood is fun if you want to go play slot machines in very dark places. EVERY single place we went to, every place we passed had slot machines. We could not find a place to eat that was not in a bar with slot machines.  I would have loved to have found a place that was wild west themed to eat, without slots. We could not find it. 
We ended up at a place called the Pump House, or something like that. They were small, open air in a former gas station. Grilled cheese and BLTs.  We got some food and were on our way.  
On the map, I read that we were within about 11 miles of the Geographic Center of the United States.  Since we were so close, we really should not miss it. 
It is in the town of Belle Fourche, South Dakota.  I like this stuff!
This little house was next to the marker
A view of the inside. Love the signature quilt!
I remember it not being so nice. I thought maybe I was thinking of something else. Well, it turns out that the original marker I saw was 20 miles outside of town. They moved it in 2007. The original was in a pasture. You had to go down a bumpy dirt road and try not to step in the cowpies. For the sake of the traveling public it got moved. It is a much nicer location.  They also have a small museum too. 
We stopped for gas and then got caught by a train! Very fun
Mileage: 8248.4
8.38 gallons @$3.57
What is looming in the distance !! 
On the ring road. 
It is HUGE!  
He loves his hat!
My boys!
Working on his Jr. Ranger badge
Being sworn in. He loves the ceremony of it all, and the fact he gets a badge! 
In front of the TeePee
If before we had Prairie Dog City this is Prairie Dog Metropolis!  They had no fear of us.  They kept away only about 3 feet. There are 8 Prairie dogs in this photo with Lon. 
A view of half of Prairie Dog Metropolis
The other half is across the street, behind me.
Wyoming ! 
We stopped for the night in Buffalo
We had a great steak dinner at the Bozeman Trail Steak House.  They had a history bit on the back of the dessert menu. I read it aloud to the table.  The waitress gave us directions to the small grocery store in town, since Garmin was directing us up to Sheridan to go shopping. Lon remembered the entire route.   We did not. Lon was the star of the show for getting us there so we could stock up on water for tomorrow. It was 100 today. 
Mileage 8441.4
9.20 gallons @$ 3.49

Monday, July 30, 2012

Day 35: Almost Across South Dakota

Starting Mileage: 7554.0
We were on the road by about 7:30 again
Our first stop was in Blue Earth Minnesota!
Yes, that is the Jolly Green Giant!
Information Bit:
 In 1978, the town of Blue Earth, Minnesota paid $43,000 to erect a 55-foot (17 m) fiberglass statue of the Jolly Green Giant to commemorate the linking of the east and west sections of Interstate 90. It was permanently erected on July 6, 1979, at 43°39′02″N 94°5′46″W. The statue attracts over 10,000 visitors a year.
The 55 foot statue of the Green Giant in Blue Earth was the idea of Paul Hedberg who owned local radio station KBEW. During the summer Hedberg interviewed travellers going through Blue Earth on U.S. Highway 16 for his radio program "Welcome Travellers". At the end of each interview, Hedberg presented guests with a sample of Green Giant corn and peas which had been canned in the local Green Giant plant. A common theme arising in interviews was a desire to "see the Green Giant."
In 1977 Hedberg contacted Thomas H. Wyman, President of Green Giant, to see if the company would allow a statue of their corporate symbol to be erected along the new Interstate 90 in Blue Earth. Wyman granted permission under the condition that funds for the project were raised locally. Hedberg approached ten local businessmen with the idea and asked for $5,000 each; within a week the $50,000 had been donated.
It is mounted on a pedestal and has steps so visitors may take a picture standing directly under the Green Giant.
Still in Minnesota, watching the farms roll by
South Dakota! They have these very large TeePee structures at every rest stop.  The people are very helpful, and very informative at the rest stop. They gave us some good ideas on what to see. Scenic byways that are not to miss. A coloring book and pin for Lon. Lots of maps and information. 
Cows, getting into the water! They were hanging out in the ponds almost every time we passed by.  I heard it was 98 (37c) today!
Reminded us of Rod's Steakhouse in Arizona
Lon thought it was really fun they had corn on the light posts
Information/History Bit:
The Corn Palace serves as a multi-use center for the community and region. The facility hosts stage shows, as well as sports events in its arena. The World's Only Corn Palace is an outstanding structure which stands as a tribute to the agricultural heritage of South Dakota.
The original Corn Palace, called "The Corn Belt Exposition" was established in 1892. Early settlers displayed the fruits of their harvest on the building exterior in order to prove the fertility of South Dakota soil. The third and present building was completed for it first festival at the present location in 1921.The exterior decorations are completely stripped down and new murals are created each year. The theme is selected by the Corn Palace Festival Committee and murals are designed by a local artist.

Keeping up with the murals!They were working on it, adding some border parts
A closer view of the murals
They have a shop set up there today, but this is where they hold the concerts and play basket ball. 
These murals stay up all year round and do not change. 
This corn cob was just walking around the floor.  He was pretty fun!
Lon eating his corn dog Lunch was reasonable.  I was surprised that it was not super high prices. 
Some of the memorabilia they have. 
Corn is a major theme
Since we watched the movie on how they make the corn palace every year, Lon is explaining how it is done. 
More Corn Palace
We got gas in Plankinton
Mileage: 7826.1
11.20 @ $3.65
At our first rest stop, they told us about the rest stop in Chamberlain. It has a small Lewis and Clark exhibit. It is right on the Missouri River.  We had to stop! 
The metal mural. 

The animals are fascinating
Learning more about what Lewis and Clark did, and how they traveled!
Tents are always worth an explore
The Missouri
Hay Rolls
Wall Drug signs are about every 500 feet it seems
The Badlands.  We decided to drive on the Scenic Loop road. It was amazing. It was a National Park, so we got a stamp in the National Park passport!
The Door Trail. Making sure we stay on the trails. They have signs to be aware of rattlesnakes! Lon wanted to see one. Mommy and Daddy did not. 

This is not as tall as it looks. This was also as high as I would let him go up.
The scenery is amazing, so different from what we are used to seeing

At the Visitor's Center. They have some nice exhibits. They also have a very temperamental smashed penny machine.  We did get Lon's penny but it took so very long to get the right pennies, then it jammed, twice!  
Information Bit:

Badlands National Park, in southwest South Dakota, United States preserves 242,756 acres (98,240 ha) of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles, and spires blended with the largest protected mixed grass prairie in the United States.
The Badlands Wilderness protects 64,144 acres (25,958 ha) of the park as a designated wilderness area. The Stronghold Unit is co-managed with the Oglala Lakota tribe and includes sites of 1890s Ghost Dances, a former United States Air Force bomb and gunnery range, and Red Shirt Table, the park's highest point at 3,340 feet (1,020 m).Authorized as Badlands National Monument on March 4, 1929, it was not established until January 25, 1939. It was redesignated a national park on November 10, 1978.

I was watching the scenery go by, and saw something move! I told Lon to keep a sharp eye out for Prairie Dogs!  We told him what they were, and that they lived in towns. We pulled over to see if we could see them better! They seem pretty used to cars.

Lon watched all the prairie dogs playing, beating the ground and talking. It was so cool to see them in the wild. We told Lon that they lived in what is called a town. Lon laughed and said no, Mom, that was a prairie dog city!
A very quick stop at Wall Drug. 
We got gas in Wall. 
Mileage: 8044.8
8.65 gallons @ $3.69
Chatting on the phone
We went to dinner at a place called Sanfords. Everything about the place was large! The menus were  over sized!
This is a HUGE plate.  The steaks were good. I got a smaller steak, 8 ounces. They called that a sandwich. We thought that beef would be good for dinner out here! 
And since it was national cheesecake day, I had a slice of cheesecake too!