Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Driving through eastern South Dakota

I am so excited! I have started typing to keep myself busy, as I am so amped I can hardly contain myself: WE ARE FINALLY IN SOUTH DAKOTA!! This is one of our pinnacle goals of the trip. It is a land I have only seen in old movies and heard about in history class. I talked to my Uncle Dick Fisher (Grandpa P.J.’s brother), he and my Aunt Donna live in the Black Hills and we hope to meet up with them for a visit along the way. But first….I am awaiting my first glimpse of the Badlands….um, nothing yet….but of course I’ll keep you posted. Last night we arrived in Sioux Falls, SD and enjoyed a lovely dinner downtown at a sidewalk cafĂ©. Our campgrounds had a huge playground, complete with this awesome “pillow jump” (think trampoline built into the ground).

The east of South Dakota is pretty barren. There are some gentle rolling hills, A LOT of corn and some cows. We saw our first herd of buffalo, big hairy beasts, they actually look kind of menacing from a distance. Of course, I didn’t get close enough to get more focused perspective, but I imaging their presence grows the closer you get. The population of South Dakota is 750,000, the whole state has less people than the city of Orlando! Pheasants outnumber people at a ratio of 10:1 – seriously, they printed it in a travel brochure.

The topography is changing quickly as I write this. Hills are starting to pop up all over the place and we just took our first steep grade in the mighty bus. A 5% grade doesn’t sound like much, but truthfully, I just about lost my lunch (partially the hill, partially my husband’s driving). We stopped a few towns back in Mitchell and took a quick tour of their Corn Palace. It’s actually an arena/performing arts center that is, you guessed it, decorated in corn. I know, it sounds cheesy, but it has been in existence for over 100 years. And the designs are actually impressive and greater than my imaginative mind could have fostered. Each year they change the designs and replace every ear of corn at the cost of $400,000. In a much appreciated twist, admission is: FREE! Also, on our way out of Nebraska the other day we went to the Horseshoe Casino (actually, we “camped” in their concrete RV Park, but that’s irrelevant). Torben was thrilled to have spent a few hours playing the craps table and won enough money to buy himself a souvenir t-shirt. On the way out we stopped to socialize with some of the shooters at our table. They thought Torben was my DAD!! Heeheehee!

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