Five States Later…

Whew. I’ve fallen behind on updates. Sorry to everyone except the grandparents for such a long post with so many pictures.

We concluded our time in Minnesota at the Yellow Medicine River campground and took a nice hike. This campsite was one of my favorites so far, except for the mosquitoes. They would swarm you immediately and were relentless. We weren’t too sad to move on, and on our way to South Dakota we stopped in Walnut Grove, the childhood home of Laura Ingalls Wilder. We’ve visited her home in Rocky Ridge (Missouri) previously, and at this stop we learned more about her childhood and saw memorabilia donated to the museum. Plum Creek was nearby, but we were unable to go there due to flooding. Touring the buildings associated with her life made for a nice long lunch stop, and then we continued on with our drive.

Two of my three hiking buddies
Books come to life

South Dakota is a neat state. We visited Mt Rushmore and the Badlands last summer, and this time passed through the southern portion. We started in Sioux Falls which is one of the larger cities with a population of around 200,000. The Big Sioux river flows through the center of town and there is a nice park where you can get fairly close to the waterfalls. A good amount of buildings in the area are built of local quartzite which is a really strong and long lasting material. We toured the County Courthouse Museum which was located in such a building, and it explained a lot of South Dakota history. One evening, we watched a community production of The Wizard of Oz in a large park in one of the historic neighborhoods. Hayes and Mabry had a lot of fun at our campsite swinging in the hammocks and riding bikes, but another afternoon we dragged them out to tour a mansion, now a museum, which has been very well preserved and showed how Senator Pettigrew’s family lived in the early 1900’s. It had original wallpaper and furnishings, and an early version of a recliner!

The incredible Sioux Falls
Hammock fun with a new mohawk
Mom is in a picture!?!
The Wizard of Oz, community edition
The Pettigrew Mansion

From Sioux Falls we travelled to Mitchell, SD, home of the Corn Palace. It was a really touristy stop, but I’m glad we saw it. The building serves as an event space and basketball arena, and is covered in many murals that are made of ears of corn. They cut the ears in half long ways, and nail them to the wall in patterns and pictures that change yearly. This building has been around a long time and was built to promote South Dakota’s agricultural image around the world. Judging by how many soy and cornfields we have driven by, they are doing just fine. Another neat place we visited in Mitchell was the Prehistoric Indian Village. Native Americans lived along the river here thousands of years ago, and the site became an archeological dig in 1910. The tribes created trash pits in the ground called midden, where they would dump animal bones, broken pottery and tools, and other items that were no longer useful. When these pits became full, they would top them off with dirt and move on to a new pit. These pits are a major part of the dig and efforts to learn more about their lives. It is slow going to uncover these relics, as the archaeologists use small tools and are very delicate with their work. We also got to see a replica of the homes the Native Americans created, and the kids got to dig for arrowheads which was harder than I expected! 

The Corn Palace in it’s glory
Mount Rushmore, Corn Palace edition
Close up of a corny column
The side of the building
The dig site

Our main purpose for being in Mitchell was to wait for the truck bed cover to arrive, and once Benjamin got it installed he was able to organize the contents of the truck and get everything in its place. This concluded our month long truck saga and we were able to get back to our regular programming. For months, we had planned to meet friends in McCall Idaho and that meant driving over 1,200 miles in three days to get there as scheduled. Over three days we drove through South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana and in to Idaho. Beautiful scenery but we really only stopped at the end of the day and didn’t take any detours to see things we passed. We crossed the Continental Divide and learned something neat. Water that falls on the West side flows to the Pacific ocean, and water that falls on the East side goes to the Atlantic! The drive into Idaho followed a rushing river and had some steep climbs and descents, and at one point we were fairly close to a wildfire and saw helicopters carrying water to the site. You could smell smoke in the air which was too close for comfort for me.

Too close for my liking!

We made it to McCall and were so happy to see some of our favorite people. The next week kept us very busy riding bikes all over town, kayaking, hiking, and tubing behind a boat on the lake. The kids even spent a night at their friends house, which was strangely quiet for Benjamin and me as we had all been together for 6 weeks in the Airstream until that point! McCall is a beautiful lakeside town and we were happy to spend time there and connect with friends.

Kayaking on a beautiful day
Getting ready to ride

That brings us up to date, in Boise. We visited the Old Idaho Penitentiary which was a prison that operated for 100 years and closed in 1973. The youngest ‘patron’ was 10 years old, incarcerated for murdering his mom because he didn’t want to help with laundry. Yikes. We also visited the capitol, which used more white marble than I have seen in any one place, and toured a geology museum which houses a seismograph that has detected earthquakes as far away as Hawaii and Peru. Kind of cool! Boise has some charming neighborhoods and fun things to do, but it was 109 yesterday afternoon and we are ready for some cooler temps again, so off we go tomorrow to Crater Lake, Oregon. 

A view of the prison
Not a bad policy!
Striking a pose at the capitol