South Dakota

Current Location: Mt. Rushmore KOA, Hill City, South Dakota

We broke with our approximately 200-ish miles per day itinerary today. The Rapid City area was to be tomorrow’s stop. Instead of stopping in eastern South Dakota today, we decided to just keep on trucking across the state and ended up with a 468 mile day. It helped that we gained an hour due to moving into the Mountain Time Zone.

We’ve stopped at this KOA before (back in 2013 when David was traveling with us) as it is just around the corner from Mt. Rushmore. Since we’ve already visited that site, we’re debating on what we’ll visit or do tomorrow (we’re staying here two nights to make up for the skipped stop).

 

Almost Out of South Dakota

Current Location: Sioux City North KOA, North Sioux City, South Dakota

Today we traveled across windy South Dakota, turning south on I-29 at Sioux Falls and continuing on until we almost ran out of state. We are currently in the small southeastern tip of South Dakota, between Nebraska to the west and Iowa to the east. The campground is nice, a bit crowded and busy with families (which you would expect from a KOA on a warm fall Saturday).

Once set up here, we cooked dinner outside on the grill and did a couple loads of laundry. Before dinner, Malcolm gave the black tanks a good flushing and emptied everything out. He also did a couple minor repairs around the trailer.

Today’s license plates – 26 of 51 plates.

License plates

License plates

Wall Drug and 1880 Town

Current Location: Belvidere East / Exit 170 KOA, Midland, South Dakota

We rolled out of Buffalo this morning around 8:00 and headed east on I-90 into South Dakota. It was a blustery drive which was reflected in our fuel usage (around 8 mpg, typically close to 10). The weather was nice otherwise, though, with sunny skies and temperatures in the 80’s. Various pictures en route:

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On the way through South Dakota, we decided to stop and see what Wall Drug Store was all about. It was an interesting stop, but typical large rambling store with a lot of touristy items. We did pick up a few things like obligatory postcards and a t-shirt for our quilt. We also each got a milkshake to take along with us.

Wall Drug Store

Wall Drug Store

As we traveled on east from Wall, we started seeing signs for 1880 Town. It turns out it is located at the same exit as our KOA. After we got the rig set up, we headed over there after putting fuel in the truck. We ended up doing the self-guided tour. There is a lot of history there. The whole place is a labor of love  and a giant collection of history and historical buildings. Even though it is pretty much off-season, it was still fun to wander around.

Looking down the street of 1880 Town

Looking down the street of 1880 Town

Bucolic scene from 1880 Town

Bucolic scene from 1880 Town

Sunset picture from this evening

Sunset picture from this evening

Today’s license plates – 27 of 51 found.

License Plates

License Plates

Into Wyoming

Current Location: Sheridan/Big Horn Mountains KOA, Sheridan, Wyoming

Today we were up and moving (this mountain time stuff is tricky) early, though not as early as some of our neighbors. Malcolm jotted out a few postcards that we needed to catch up on and we walked down to the office to mail them out. We browsed their store for a bit, checked out the coffee and wine shop they have on site and Malcolm wandered over to the horse ride concession to pet a few of the horses (they were eating their breakfast, so they were not very attentive).

We hooked up and pulled out around 9:00 and headed back down the hill to Rapid City and filled up the truck at the Flying J at the interstate. Then, it was back on I-90 west towards Wyoming.

Welcome to Wyoming

Welcome to Wyoming

Wyoming Welcome Center

Wyoming Welcome Center

Petrified wood at welcome center

Petrified wood at welcome center

We stopped at the welcome center inside Wyoming and inquired about visiting Devil’s Tower, since it looked fairly close. It wasn’t too much out of the way and the welcome center staff mentioned that they had parking for big RV’s, so off we went. It’s a nice loop, though lots of steep hills (up and down) with semi-sharp curves (35-45 mph) on some areas.

Devil's Tower from a distance.

Devil’s Tower from a distance.

From the road leading into the park

From the road leading into the park

Up close

Up close

We made it to the entry gate and the gentleman there gave us a slip of paper and said we didn’t have to pay unless we managed to find a place to park (honor system, I guess) since they have fairly limited parking for RV’s. We lucked out when we got there and found a space on the very end of the RV parking (it’s all parallel to the road coming in). As we were getting out and checking to see if our trailer was sticking out too far in the traffic (it kinda was), the motorhome in front of us pulled out, so we pulled on up.

Really close

Really close

We got our passport book stamped and decided to go ahead and eat lunch there, fixing sandwiches and stuff from the outside kitchen and eating on a bench in the shade. After lunch, we did a short hike up a trail and got pictures. We got back in the truck, pulled out from our spot (sort of tight, but not bad) and paid our parking fee ($10) on the way out. We headed back across country and got on I-90.

We got off at Gillette to fuel up. This sculpture was located at the bottom of the exit ramp.

Cowboy at exit ramp

Cowboy at exit ramp

We pulled into the KOA in Sheridan right at dinner time (mountain time, at least). Malcolm and David finished setting up the trailer as Val started dinner.

Our "shaded" site at the KOA.

Our “shaded” site at the KOA.

We ate dinner, relaxed for a bit, ran out to KMart and grabbed a few groceries, filled up the truck across the street and headed back to the campground to relax.

Here are today’s license plate results – 28 out of 51.

License plates

License plates

By the way, we updated yesterday’s short post with updated information. Scroll down to read it.

 

Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, Corn

Current Location: Lake Mitchell Campground, Mitchell, South Dakota

We got up this morning with the sound of distant thunder in the background. Looking outside, we could see rain heading our way. The Weather Channel radar verified that we had until about 9:00 AM to get underway if we didn’t want a soggy departure (though it did storm off and on through the night). We rolled out of the campground a little before 9:00 AM and hopped on I-35 northbound.

As we got to the northern-most exit in Iowa on I-35, we stopped for a break at the rest area and browsed the gift shop. Iowa has about the nicest rest areas on the interstates that we’ve run across so far in our travels. We were impressed by the number of huge power generation windmills we saw through Iowa, Minnesota and especially in South Dakota.

Today, we traveled up to I-90 and headed west on it. We’ll be following I-90 all the way into the Seattle area. It was spitting rain off and on during the trip. There was a short period of headwind, but mostly it was blowing from the south and hitting us on the driver’s side. Fuel mileage improved to nearly normal today.

We decided to do a little easier drive today, since we are nearly a day ahead of schedule. Instead of pushing for Kennebec, SD, which was our original planned stop for tomorrow night, we stopped 100 miles east of that in Mitchell, SD. One reason was to check out the Corn Palace. Malcolm’s grandparents had visited it during some of their travels and Malcolm wanted to see it for himself. Might as well do a few sightseeing things while we’re traveling.

Site 0 (zero) in Lake Mitchell Campground

Site 0 (zero) in Lake Mitchell Campground

Once we parked the trailer in site #0 (zero) in the Lake Mitchell Campground, we headed out to eat dinner at The Depot. After that, we visited the Corn Palace and a candy store right¬† down the street (like we didn’t have enough candy already from Wakarusa). On the way back to the campground, we stopped by a grocery store and picked up a few needed items.

The Corn Palace

The Corn Palace

The Corn Palace is, essentially, an entertainment arena. The claim to fame is that each year the outside and inside murals are changed and decorated with corn cobs, grains and grasses. In the picture, above, the street beside it is blocked off because they are still working on some of this year’s murals down the side of the building.

Our license plate game didn’t garner as many hits today. I-35 and I-90 were not very busy. We didn’t have nearly as many people passing us, especially trucks. We got 24 out of 51 (including D.C.) plates today.

Today's license plate wins

Today’s license plate wins

Tomorrow’s planned destination will probably be somewhere around Gillette, Wyoming, if not a little sooner. We are going to attempt to visit Mount Rushmore on the way through the area by just parking and visiting, if they have an available long vehicle space.