No, Dakota in Miss W’s class, this is not about you. Instead we have been travelling through North and South Dakota in the USA.
After leaving Just M and Jim in Manitoba, we headed into USA via Windy Gates Port of Entry. The car was searched again but as it was so windy, the customs officers had it pulled up inside a building. Nothing was found except the vegemite.
As Miss W wanted to visit Mt Rushmore, that meant a long distance travelling to the western side of North Dakota. We passed through the town of Rugby which is close to the geographical centre of North America. The museum and pioneer village there weren’t open. This has been a bit disappointing as most things close after Labour Day which was early September. Even the tourist information centres on the main highways were closed.
Heading south we went past field after field of either corn or sunflowers. We saw on a map an Audubon Wildlife Refuge so headed down the road nearby only to find out later that it was on the other side of the lake. In the Washburn area, we saw lots of coal mining and power stations. Still having a bit of time before stopping for the night, we followed a round route through the Knife River Valley where Native American Indians used to live on the banks of the Knife River. They built mounds in summer that were huge and would last many years. During the winter, they went closer to the river and had less permanent and smaller houses. Make sure you check out the website for more information.
After a night in a very small motel in Washburn, we headed to the Lewis and Clark interpretive centre only to find it opens at 12 noon on a Sunday. We weren’t going to wait 4 hours so went down to Fort Mandan instead where Lewis and Clerk were based in 1804. We met a teacher there, Suzan, who has already left a comment on the blog. Her class doesn’t blog and she teaches in a school near Bismarck.
Another long day of driving west and south got us to Belle Fourche in South Dakota. Suzan had mentioned going to Devil’s Tower about an hour from here, so off we went. This was a fantastic rock formation in Wyoming and was well worth the visit. I tried to climb it but was not successful. Back into South Dakota and stayed the night at Days Inn in Spearfish.
The next day was just brilliant for touristy things. We headed up Spearfish Canyon, a lovely drive through valleys full of trees changing colour. We visited Deadwood, famous for Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok of cowboy and western fame. We actually visited their graves in the Mt Moriah cemetery.
On the next part of the drive we stopped off in Boondocks – this was a town with a 1950′s diner – it was like being on a ‘Happy Days’ set. Had a shake there, which ended up being icecream in a milkshake container.
Then into Keystone and on to Mt Rushmore. It was going to cost $11 to go in and park the car, so we kept driving slowly and took a photo from the car instead. Next was Crazy Horse Memorial where Crazy Horse is being carved from a mountain side. The Mt Rushmore carvings will fit inside just the head and hair of Crazy Horse. The money spent going here was worthwhile. Fabulous information movie, lots of donated articles from local Indian tribes, sculptures, beading, photography, painting, as well as a restaurant where it cost nothing to have a bowl of stew (not sure if it was beef or buffalo), an apple and a couple of oat bars as well as a drink. Miss W put me down on the counter of the gift shop and I’m sorry, but I scared the young woman serving us – she thought I was real.
Off to Custer State Park to do the wildlife loop – we saw buffalo, white tail deer, prairie dogs and wild burros (like donkeys). Took lots of images which you can see on my photostream on flickr. We could only drive at 35mph and part of the loop included driving through rock tunnels. We were very lucky to do this part of the trip as the Needles Highway was being closed the next day getting ready for snow and winter.
Luckily Miss W had contact Mrs Krebs on twitter and organized for us to come to her school in Iowa on Wednesday instead of Tuesday.
Tuesday meant another long drive from Rapid City in South Dakota to Sioux Center in Iowa. It was a 6 hour drive at 70mph and add an hour for changing time zones. So we left the motel at 7.30am – our earliest start so far – and headed to Wall where we took the scenic drive through the Badlands National Park – similar to the badlands in Alberta – made sure we did some walking and exercise to get out of the car on such a long drive. Only allowed to drive at 35mph so this added time to our trip.
Back on the Interstate 90, we stopped at 1880 town – many of the props for the movie ‘Dancing with Wolves’ were housed here in this model town of the 1880′s. Lots of tumbleweeds inside the buildings which are originals and brought in from various places on the plains area to set up this little town.
Last stop today was at Mitchell to see the ‘Corn Palace‘. This building is decorated like a palace but the outside and parts of the inside are made from corn type paintings. Inside they were holding flu vaccination day so hard to find a parking space.
To end the day we arrived in Sioux Center at 7pm, nearly 12 hours on the road in total. Tomorrow should be easier as we visit Mrs Krebs classes.
You will notice nothing is highlighted in this post. Neither are there any photos. To leave a comment, visit all the links in the post and tell me which one you would like to visit and why. To look at the images check out my photostream on flickr – see widget on sidebar.