October 4, 2016
More of South Dakota
Before leaving the Black Hills, we stopped in Lead at the Sanford Lab Homestake Visitor Center to view the large 'Open Cut' gold mine (no longer operational) and to learn about the research being done underground there by Sanford Lab to detect neutrinos. Then we drove through Spearfish Canyon – pretty fall color and a lovely waterfall. Somehow we have never driven through that part of the Black Hills.
Onward to Badlands National Park with an obligatory stop at Wall Drug (no purchases other than the 5-cent cups of coffee). Our camping at Badlands NP was shortened to one night because of cold, damp and blustery weather. The Scenic Loop Drive was beautiful and not too crowded late in September.
Before venturing east across SD, we visited Minuteman Missile National Historic Site (National Park Service). We were fortunate enough to take a tour of one of the decommissioned launch control centers underground by a park volunteer who served as an Air Force launch commander in the early 1970s so he really knew 'his stuff.' We also drove out to one of the missile silos to look down through the viewing window. Not exactly a 'fun' attraction, but one the preserves part of our nation's history.
Minuteman Missile NHS Visitor Center
Blast door humor
underground control room
We resumed wandering around central SD, crossing the Missouri River (again) at Fort Pierre and driving past the capitol building in Pierre. A stop along I-90 near Chamberlain to see the newly-installed sculpture named 'Dignity' that is 50 feet tall. (We find it hard to pass up big things.) This was another significant Lewis and Clark site.
Mitchell, SD to see this year's design made of different varieties of corn on the outside of the Corn Palace – musicians including Willie Nelson.
A four-day visit with relatives in Sioux Falls – no sightseeing, just relaxing. We celebrated the 100th day of this trip by watching the first presidential debate. . . we know how to party!
We found a free campground with showers in a city park in Vermillion, SD and used it as our base of operations while we completed the South Dakota State Star geoart caches and others in the area. We spent 3 hours in the National Music Museum on the campus of University of South Dakota where they have a world-class collection of ancient and contemporary musical instruments. We strolled through the galleries with Ipods to access audio and video clips of the instruments being played.
More geocaching and Lewis and Clark historic sites. We came across the 'No Toll Troll Stroll' in the town of Oakland- a lovely wooded trail with painted trolls scattered throughout and a well-designed geocache that we finally found when we got. on the right side of the creek. Another fun cache was in the library on a small college campus on the Winnebago Indian Reservation. Soon we will do the Nebraska State Star geoart before moving on to Kansas. As you can see, we are slowly making our way back to Texas.