Thursday, May 15, 2008

South Dakota - Corn Palace to Badlands

We left the Mitchell KOA mid-morning and drove the RV into town to visit the Corn Palace. We had noticed the night before that there was a lot of parking in the area and with our timing before the start of tourist season we had most of the parking lot to ourselves.

The two things that we found most interesting about the Corn Palace were

1) following the history of all the different designs through the years.

And 2) (of course, you’d get this from a sports family) that they had a huge auditorium that had the similar corn mosaics around the perimeter but was used regularly for local basketball games. What a really cool place to play!

Between Mitchell and the Badlands we encountered Ken’s least favorite part of the trip so far. We heard on the weather radio the next day that there were wind gusts of up to 50mph.

Because of the wind we stopped frequently like this rest stop where the boys decided to take an off-path hike.

Trev communing with the power of nature around him!

These guys apparently did not have a lot of concern about the sign before their hike?

There was also the roadside stop to see the World’s Largest Prairie Dog!

The loop to the Badlands actually came as a welcome break since the speed limit was restricted meaning the wind was not such a factor.

Again, we were really lucky to be here in off-season so we could stop on the highway as we chose and spend time climbing around on some of the formations.

Unfortunately photos do not do this place justice.

We are experiencing first hand the abundant South Dakota wildlife. We’ve seen pheasant and mule deer along the highways and in the Badlands there were no shortage of

…these furry little prairie dog creatures. Did you know that Prairie Dogs do not drink water. That is why it is so dangerous to feed them human food and there are fines in South Dakota parks if you are caught doing so.

We came out of the west end of the Badlands loop at Wall, SD.

Wall Drug is probably the biggest tourist trap in South Dakota which meant we absolutely had to stop.

As it turned out it was good timing for a late lunch break.

Of course, the place is full of corny photo props, like the famous South Dakota jackalope.

Despite all the stops and activities for the day, we were still able to get to Rafter J campground in Hill City before dark. Using the various online forums he frequents, Ken had researched various RV parks in the area and Rafter J was by far the number one recommendation in the area.

The park was very sparsely populated this time of year and we were given a pull-thru site that gave us a lot of privacy, However, in retrospect we would have selected for ourselves one of the sites under the pine trees even farther back in to this huge campground. You’ll notice the tent behind Baby. Trevor decided that he wanted ‘his space’ and so that was his sleeping quarters for the 3 nights here. He took one of our ceramic heaters along since it was in the low 40’s at night and also Kyle’s laptop so he could watch DVD’s. It was so comfortable that we had to go out and wake him in the morning in order to have him up by 9am so we had decent hours for sightseeing.

Well, this was a long and wonderful day of Frericks family adventure, so I’ll sign off for now. Tomorrow we will start exploring the Black Hills.

Hugs, C

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