Grasslands

Another long day of driving today. We crossed the rest of Iowa, and most of South Dakota to reach Rapid City. In Iowa we saw farms with rows of windmills. We also drove through Iowa’s Loess Hills, which are created from finely ground soils which were deposited by the winds during the ice age.  This type of soil is called Loess, and is nicknamed “sugar clay” because it dissolves like sugar when saturated. These hills are over 60 feet high, and tend to slump creating “cat steps”.

The area has seen heavy flooding from the Missouri River. On more than one occasion the highway was cut down to one lane while sandbags held the water back. Driving through Sioux Falls many roads were closed because they just ended in the water. After crossing the Missouri River we started to see signs for Wall Drug, a Giant Tourist Store, which was one of our planned stops. They have a similar advertisement campaign to South of the Border in South Carolina. We saw signs all the way from 3 hours out advertising dinosaurs (they did have a giant dinosaur statue), free ice water, and 5 cent coffee. They had a stuffed Jackalope, and an old fashioned medicine case. Later we drove by 1880 town, a little replica of a western town. I thought the sign was funny.

Aunt Pat wanted to stop at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota. The town took the idea from Sioux Falls and built a building with murals decorated with different colored corn. They call it the world’s largest bird feeder. A short little video served as a monument to the working farmers and brings in a lot of commerce for the town. The Palace is so big that it houses a basketball stadium.

Finally the scenery is starting to look more like what I expected the west to look like. After passing the corn fields we saw giant grasslands that stretched as far as the eye could see. The weather changed drastically while we drove today, changing from blue sky, to overcast with low threatening clouds, and rain storms. We saw a storm chaser van near the edge of the grasslands heading the opposite direction (good sign I hope) while we stopped for gas. Of course my Uncle forgot to ask the question we have been wondering for a few days. What do we do if a tornado touches down in front of us?

In the western half of South Dakota appeared alien looking hills that were striped different colors. Shortly after that we came across the black hills, named for the Black Pines populating them. These hills are sacred to the native Lakota tribes and are truly a sight to behold.

Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Tomorrow!

and yes i’m still a day behind, but since I have to get up at 5 tomorrow and it’s currently 11:30, you guys are lucky you are getting this

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2 thoughts on “Grasslands

  1. The black hills sound very different from anything back home here. Of, course, the “Corn Palace” sounds pretty “different” too!!!! Seeing the flooding from the Missouri River that we have only read about must have been startling.

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