Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Badlands continued

August 29, 2012:

Solo hike this AM for me, as Twinkles watched from the parking lot, I scrambled (almost) up the Saddle Pass trail, only 300 yards in length, but very steep and slippery footing.  It leads to the top of a butte with a fantastic view of the valley below on both sides !  Then we took another off trail hike a short distance away walking around the buttes following a dry creek bed.  

Then a road trip to the world famous Wall Drug store in Wall, SD.  I had the world famous hot roast beef sandwich, Twinkles had a burger and the famous 5 cent coffee.  The Wall Drug Store story tells how they became successful only after starting to give away free ice water to travelers.  So when we saw the much advertised ice cold water dispenser behind the store, we had to get some and it was disgustingly warm.  Lots of tourist shops and much interesting cowboy and Indian photos and memorabilia made it worthwhile.  

On the return trip, we entered the Badlands Park from the North entrance and took the Sage Creek Rim Road road.  We saw real authentic buffalo out on the range and the Roberts prairie dog town along with some pronghorn deer.  It's a gravel road with a corduroy surface which rattled us pretty hard, we turned around after about 7 miles.

Near record temperatures this week, 103 degrees yesterday, 106 today !  

We head out tomorrow for Rapid City, SD

It's really dry here

Not poisonous !

I followed this stream into the canyon

View along the Loop road

Buffalo on the range

They grow anywhere !

View from the Castle hiking trail

photo display at Wall Drug

Twinkles in good hiking form

Sunrise view from campground

Monday, August 27, 2012

Badlands National Park

August 26, 2012

Travel to Mako Sica, Les Mauvaises Terres a Traverser or "The Badlands" of South Dakota.

We travelled easily on route 90 west to Badlands National Park Campground on August 22nd.  We must have seen 1,000 Wall Drug billboards on Rt. 90 since first entering South Dakota, only another 30 or so miles until we get there.  It seems that everyone stops there, then leaves them a bad review on the internet ?  

We are staying put for a week to immerse ourselves in this park area, slow down, calm down and relax a bit.  It's amazing scenery and geology here, we are slowly checking it all out.  It is hot, dry and often windy here, a harsh but beautiful landscape.  A very exciting thunderstorm late last night and much cooler today. Thunderstorms are exciting events in an RV, nothing like the sound of a hard rain on the tin roof, lightning and thunder cracking nearby and wind gusts rocking the RV.  Tourist from all over the World are here, took a picture of a french family last evening, a bus load of Russians at the park lodge today.  

The closest town to the park, Interior, SD, population 84, appears to be mostly poverty level American indians. The general store, the Cowboy Corner, is the only place with Diesel for miles, but it's $4.30 something a gallon !  I pulled in, a car was in the way of the pump, then two bikers pulled in behind the car and the store owner (Sue) ran out to move them all out of the way.  She must have sensed a big sale !  After paying she even gave me a nice black and yellow plastic Cowboy Corner pen.

We did an off trail hike today from the Yellow Mounds Overlook following a creek and animal paths through a prairie area winding our way between eroding buttes.  We ran into a group of mule deer who quickly bounded away.  Lots of cool rocks and what looked like petrified wood and following park regulations, we left it all there.  As we were coming up the steep slope back to the overlook parking area there was a tour bus with a group of tourists with their cameras out, so we powered up the hill without stoping.  I noticed one of the pot bellied men had a tee shirt that said "blood, sweat and beers", and I was thinking a beer sure would taste nice right now !  We have seen it go from 45 degrees at 7 AM to 93 degrees at 4 PM.  

Beautiful colors

Hardy flower growing out of the cracked ground

Erosion rules

Storm clouds rolling in

The rope ladder

Sue striking a pose

Interior, SC sign

Bands of color

Sue climbing the rope ladder

Rain in the distance

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Corn Palace

August 22, 2012:

We departed Sioux Falls on August 20th and arrived at Hills RV Park in Plankinton, SD in early afternoon.  It's was a full hook-up, self service camp site in an open field with construction equipment running around next door kicking up lots of dust.  We did enjoy the pool though, we had it all to ourselves and caught up on the laundry.  I explored downtown Plankinton, took about 15 minutes, it's an old town with some history but progress has sort of passed it by.  We went to the most happening looking bar downtown, the Roadhouse Pub, it defined the term dive bar !  Our purpose in staying there was to go to the Corn Palace about 15 miles away in Mitchell, SD.  The Corn Palace was incredible, but I have to say that based on old photos, it's not as spectacular as in years past.  We wandered around the downtown area as the Corn Palace festival vendors were setting up.  We then went to the Carnegie Library building which now houses lots of great Corn Palace memorabilia and genealogy materials.  We had a private tour from a most dedicated women volunteer, who it turns out was a previous mayor of Mitchell, the one responsible for saving the building and starting the museum. We then found the old train station, now a very nice bar and restaurant, had a drink then went back to the downtown festival for an Indian Taco.  Then, the highlight of the day, "The Bull Bash" at the rodeo arena that was pure western Americana.  An exhausting day, but a good one. Tomorrow, August 23rd, another move day to the Bad Lands National Park Campground for a week. 

Roadhouse Pub in Plankinton

Corn Palace

Corn Palace detail

Corn Palace interior arena

Western shop in downtown Mitchell

Downtown Mitchell bar

Ceiling art work at Carnegie Library that saved building

Corn Palace festival

Rodio bull riders

Kick ass bull !

cowboys herding bulls back to the pen

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

August 20, 2012:

On the road again at 10 AM for Sioux Falls, South Dakota traveling across Minnesota on route 90 west through endless fields of corn, a huge ethanol fuel plant, a bald eagle flying up from the road to a tree top, endless wind turbines going off into the horizon and beyond and those spiritual looking cloud formations.  
  Another quick MacDonalds dollar menu pit stop for lunch (getting to be a habit) and then another stop for brochures at the South Dakota welcome center. 

We arrived at the Sioux Falls Fairgrounds Campground at 4 PM, easy full hook-up site, then checked out the empty fairground sights.  The fair was a week ago and it must be a good one, lots of exhibit buildings.  Kind of unique staying at an empty fairgrounds, somewhat haunting, but it has character and is close to downtown.

Sioux Falls has everything it seems, dumpy areas with casinos, dumpy bars and pawn shops, the usual miracle mile area and a very nice clean Phillips Avenue area downtown with lots of historic sites, restaurants, bars, museums, hundreds of street sculptures and a free trolley system to the Falls Park.  

The town gets it's name from the falls of the Sioux River and it is very impressive even in the present drought low water condition.  Lots of exposed Quartzite rock at the park, this area is known for it, the only harder rock is diamond, most of the prominent buildings downtown are made of it and it's beautiful.

View from Rote 52 

View from Route 90

Sioux Fall Fairgrounds

downtown tile mural

downtown bank building

Sioux Falls clock

The real Sioux Falls 

Phillips Avenue sculpture

The State Theater under restoration

Friday, August 17, 2012

Lanesboro, Minnesota

Another 100 miles of rolling hills and cornfields and we are in the beautiful town of Lanesboro, Minnesota, the Bed and Breakfast Capital of Minnesota.  We are staying at the Eagles Cliff Campground on the scenic Root River a few miles outside of town.  We are visiting my old boyhood friend Gordon Tindall who is living here with his wife Val.  It has been about 30 years since I last saw Gordon so it is quite a special reunion.  Gordon has a dinner in town called "The Spud Boy" that he personally restored and it is really a work of art.  Gordon is renowned in the diner restoration world, this is the third diner he has saved from destruction and lovingly restored.
We rented bikes a took a ride on the rail trail along the Root River.
Lanesboro is a beautiful town and if you are ever nearby, well worth visiting.

The Spud Boy Diner

It's Open

Downtown Lanesboro

The Root River waterfall at the power station

Daisies by river

Many people from Norway settled this area of Minnesota
Bike ride on the Root River Trail

River view