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Some rainy days didn’t dampen our spirits although some water infiltration threaten to drown them. We discovered the beauty of Sioux Falls, SD and had an earful at the Corn Palace in Mitchell. We discovered some great free or inexpensive campsites too!
June 10 – Magnolia MN
We awoke at 3am to a heavy deluge pounding the roof of the rig. In a move of justified paranoia we did a quick round of the interior checking that our hull hadn’t been breached, only to find a pooling pond of water leaking out from behind the fridge. We had to park on a sloped patch of grass beneath the lamp post for power last night but unfortunately the opportunistic downpour got an inside look at our posh interior. In our half sleepy panic we mopped up the waiting pool and traced the leak to it’s suspected point of entry where we stacked some towels before returning to our slumber with no hope of a solution before daybreak. When we awoke later that morning the rain had thankfully eased and surprisingly the ground had dried up well enough to step out the door without loosing a flip flop in it’s grasp. We had another work out, taking advantage of the jungle gym and a fairly dry gravel ground supplying some much needed drainage. In the mean time our little heater worked it’s hardest to dry out where the floor had gotten wet and clear the moisture from the indoor air and windows. Having dealt with our share of basements in the past and being all too familiar with the uninterruptible characteristic of water flowing to exactly where it’s not invited, we chose a waterproof vinyl flooring in our remodel and thankfully so.
We drove 30mins down the highway to Austin MN, where we stopped at a Caribou Coffee house to indulge in some wifi and suck back some much needed coffee after our early morning interruption. We’ve had poor to no service at many campsites on this trip but working with a balance of budget and necessities it’s always a give and take, besides, we like to consider ourselves campers not quite glampers. Once we had wrapped up in the coffee shop we got some diesel and headed out of town. We left Austin without checking out the Spam Museum much to Diane’s disappointment, but some things are best left to the imagination. Along our route we stopped in Blue Earth and snapped a primo selfie with Mr. ho-ho-ho himself, the Jolly Green Giant. The story behind the Giant is very strange and was basically built to entice travelers to stop in Blue Earth once the I-90 was built.
Like bass to the bait hook we couldn’t refuse the call of the giant, we are vegetarians after all, but it gave us a perfect backdrop to whip up some guac and snacks for lunch. Opportunity found us another city run campground just off the highway in Magnolia and this time it was above sea level. It had become a beautiful sunny day when we stopped for the evening but it was very windy. We had our pick of sites and maneuvered into a nicely leveled and sheltered one with some shade. Attempting to head off a reenactment of our interior pooling this morning, we took the opportunity to try to seal up where the water had infiltrated and also had to re-glue one of the head light mounts that had shaken loose from our rattle-mobile. The much welcomed sunlight created the perfect opportunity to test drive our Scrubba, a manual laundry bag made for camping and other unannounced underwear emergencies. We loaded up the bag with the tea towels used to sop up the water last night, poured in some water and added the soap. The next 5 minutes were spent mushing, rubbing, massaging and manipulating towels around in the bag and across it’s interior washboard like nubs. In the mean time we’d spotted an ideal location for draping a line from Izzy to a nearby tree and once the rinse cycle was complete we had a full fledged makeshift laundry operation on the go. The last few days of rain had put a damper on our campfire dreams though we had some wood left in the hold since our wagon load in Wisconsin. Normally we’d have deemed it far too windy for a camp fire but responsible decision making had been washed away in the flood it appeared and we stoked up a good one and let our lumber blaze away in the flames of glory.
June 11 – Magnolia MN
Monty was a particularly unrelenting jerk face this morning and woke us up around 4:30am. He’s regularly an early riser especially when compared to us however, we can usually ignore him and he goes back to sleep until we get up. but that was not the case this morning. After about an hour and a near strangling he did settle back down but due to this apparently he just doesn’t understand the importance of time zones and his clock was still on eastern standard time. Once we eventually arose, we utilized the free showers and had a yummy breakfast of a fruit and egg medley. We were discussing our route and how far we had to go to reach the Badlands and Mount Rushmore which were approaching as quickly as our 50 MPH cruise speed would allow. Assuming the travelers were flocking to the area, we pre-booked a reservation near Rushmore for June 14th still a few days off, but on the radar none the less. The day’s forecast was bleak and the sky outside was extremely ominous with the winds sustaining their roaring pace. We made the team decision to stay put for the day and catch up on a backlog of work. We have full hook ups, more than enough food and it’s only $10 a night. Late in the afternoon it still hadn’t actually rained on us so we went for a walk around the town of Magnolia and five minutes later we were done. There are about four streets to the town and was probably much busier before the I-90 was built since the old highway likely went right through it’s core, imagine the gridlock!!. It was good to stretch our legs though and do a bit of exploring. The discussion around cleaning out our black and grey water tanks had been a lingering one since before we began our journey and now appeared to be D-Day. There is a quick water hook up that sprays into the tanks to aid in degunking them so we gave it a try, we were here, hooked up to the sewer, it seemed like as good a time as any. The job went surprisingly smooth and left with time to tackle a few other chores around the house. We spent the rest of the day planning our route and packing up our explosion of gear around the site before turning in for the night.
June 12 – Sioux Falls and the Corn Palace
When we awoke this morning we took advantage of the glorious sunshine and did a work out and some yoga. The free hot showers were a nice end to our two day rest in Magnolia Village. We hit the road and crossed into South Dakota, our fourth state on our route. We were destined for the largest city, Sioux Falls just over the border off the I-90. Upon arrival we headed for Falls Park to check out the water falls that graced the city with its name. We mowed down a quick lunch before setting out to explore the park with our cameras and drone of course. The park was immaculately kept and the city itself has a bike loop that links multiple parks spread throughout the city which we’d have taken better advantage of if we were sticking around for more than the afternoon. There was an observation tower which was free to climb and offered birds-eye views of the park, falls and surroundings. Not surprisingly there was a boutique gift shop at the base to lure in unsuspecting tourists but it was surprisingly affordable and offered us the perfect opportunity to find ourselves another magnet to add to our ceiling collection. We took our time wandering the park, snapping photos and reading the historic information. There used to be 3 falls but in the early 1900’s the lower falls were destroyed to allow more water to flow to the hydro electric damn. The Big Sioux River is the reason the city came into existence and was a major settlement as it supplied the required power to build up a thriving industrial base. We broke out “Droney” after some meandering and did some flyovers of the falls and park before getting back on the road.
About an hour later we stopped in to the town of Mitchel for the highly advertised Corn Palace! the worlds ONLY corn palace that is!! There were plenty of corny (ha ha) jokes going around but overall it turned out to be quite interesting. The original corn palace was built in the late 1800’s as a way to attract people to the city. It was a concert hall and exhibition center. The property has been rebuilt twice and expanded both times to the building it is today. Local specialty and hybrid varieties of corn are specially grown and used to decorate the exterior and interior of the building giving the mosaics their natural colour. About 130 acres of land is devoted to growing corn just for the palace which gets a face lift each year after harvest is complete. This year’s theme was South Dakota weather which is evident in it’s collection of scenes covering it’s façade, however, every year brings a different series of designs to it’s walls as the designers and artisans work together to nail up every ear by hand. Today the building is used for sporting events, concerts and graduations in the fall and winter while acting as a tourist info center in the late spring and summer. It was interesting to see how the building had contributed to the growing of the town and though the concept seemed a bit odd to an outsider, it really was a celebration of farming community culture.
Once we had an earful we drove for about another hour and a half to find our stopping place for the night. A free campground outside Oacoma SD right on the Missouri River. It was a picturesque spot and we wished we had arrived a little earlier to enjoy it more. We had some dinner and took a walk with Monty along the riverside. It was a lovely evening free of bugs