Monday, August 20, 2012

Corn Palace, Badlands, Mount Rushmore & More

Sorry this post is late. Our anti-virus, McAfee, managed to break our Internet connection. To make a long story short. We have a new anti-virus.

Monday: Fun times! We went to Mall of America in Bloomington, MN. It’s the largest mall in the US. They have an aquarium and an amusement park in it. Then we drove on to Menomonie, Wisconsin.

Tuesday: We started the day with a hike in Hoffman Hills near Menomonie. It wasn’t particularly long or difficult, but it sure felt good to be hiking again. We left there and drove to Blue Earth, MN and saw the Jolly Green Giant statue before settling in a campground in Welcome, MN.

Wednesday:  Have you ever seen a corn palace? I have. The only Corn Palace in the world is in Mitchell, South Dakota. Every year they decorate the outside with corn and other natural materials like the Rose Parade does, but no flowers, mostly cobs of corn of various colors cut in half and nailed on one by one following a pattern. It changes every year. I suggest going no earlier than August because they start decorating in June and they still weren’t quite finished. They also have some permanent pictures inside as well as photographs of most of them since 1892 when they built the first one. They painted the designs during World War II.

Thursday: Today we visited Badlands National Park after a long drive. I like the way my husband described it in our journal, “...stark, dramatic, raw beauty.” We went on our first real hike in over a month. It sure felt good. It was moderate to strenuous. Notice the log ladder we had to climb. All of us adults planned on going down backwards, but a girl sat down then went forward–much easier for the steepest part. It was easier to go backwards when it became less steep. Tonight we’re in Custer, SD.

Friday: Busy, delightful day. This morning we visited the Wind Cave, unlike any other cave. It’s a dry cave, so no stalagmites or stalactites. It has boxwork (95% of all boxwork known worldwide), popcorn and frostwork formations. (If you want to know how they developed, look it up.) It was a sacred place to the Lakota Indians and worked into their creation legend. The natural openings have a constant wind: Blowing in if the barometric pressure is higher outside than in the cave, and blowing out when it’s lower outside than in the cave. There is only one natural opening that’s big enough for a small person to slip through. The first explorer was 16-year-old Alvin McDonald who kept meticulous journals.

In the afternoon we visited Mount Rushmore. It’s an amazing site. I’ve seen pictures of it since I can remember. It’s interesting to learn more about how it was created, and to see it for myself.

Saturday: More fun stuff. In the morning we went to the Crazy Horse Memorial statue. It’s in the process of being carved out of a mountain. It will be the largest statue in the world when it’s finished. The four presidents carved in Mount Rushmore would fit in the head. I really admire the way they’re doing it—on their own. They will not accept funds from the federal government, strictly by donations and people visiting it and buying stuff. We need more of that attitude in this world.

The afternoon was great too. We went to Wall, SD and visited the Wall Drug Store. It’s the biggest drug store I’ve ever been to. It’s like a whole mini mall inside one building. Yes, it does actually have a drug department. To make a long fascinating story short, the original owner gave himself 5 years to make it profitable back in the day of the Model T. His wife had the idea to offer free ice water to the multitude of Model T drivers that passed by. They still offer free ice water and 5 cent coffee (for those interested). They have a giant T-rex that roars to life every 12 minutes. The rest of the town is set up western style and is also interesting to see.

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