Friday, July 31, 2009

The Badlands

On the way to Rapid City we could view the Badlands in the distance, to the south of I-90, but even with the zoom lens we couldn't get a good shot of them.
I noticed on the map that there was a scenic bypass through the Badlands about 80 miles outside of Rapid City. While on the ride back to Sioux Falls to see Rosie I saw the Badlands bypass signs and I asked Tobey if he wanted to take that route. He said he didn't want to go and I continued on driving down 1-90. As we got closer to the cut off I thought why not, we will probably never be here again and I whipped the car over to the bypass. And boy we are so glad we took that route. The bypass takes about an hour to drive not including all the times you will stop to take pictures and the entrance fee is $15 for two tourists in a rental.

On our excursion we discovered that the Badlands were named because in days of old, people said that it was a 'bad land' to have to cross. I can't even imagine crossing this area by foot, horseback or carriage.

God's Sand Art

The pictures and video are beautiful but trust me on this one: they do not do the Badlands justice. I've uploaded all of our photos to Shutterfly and you can view them here or by clicking the Badlands link on the right side of the blog under the 'Slideshows' heading. Be sure to check out Tobey's awesome handicam work.

After leaving the Badlands we headed east towards Sioux Falls. Our next stop was 1880 Town and I was hoping for lunch but again Tobey didn't want to eat there either. It sounds like he was a stick in the mud but he really wasn't. Well, maybe just a tad but honestly the place was a little touristy and hokie.

We paid our $18 for the two of us to enter the town and headed on in partner. There was tons to see in the town and I really enjoyed the Dances With Wolves movie props which was on the second floor the the 14-sided barn we entered through. They did put on a production with the help of the townsfolk (tourists) but I was too busy snapping pictures to pay much attention to their shtick and corny jokes. I think if we would have brought young children they would have thoroughly enjoyed it though; me and Tobey, not so much. But I did get a few nice pictures out of the deal and then we hit the road again for Sioux Falls.

Does it feel like we are never going to get to Sioux Falls? That is exactly how it felt for us too! We travelled on a few miles looking for a place to stop and eat and I wanted something nice and fresh when we saw the signs for a fresh salad bar at the Star Family Restaurant in Murdo, SD.

The CiIty of Murdo's website says Murdo is "The place to stop". Mrs. Oh says, "Keep on a goin'." Murdo's big claim to fame is it is where the Central and Mountain time zones meet; hopefully they never ate in Murdo and if they did hopefully it wasn't at the AAA Gold Star Rated Star Family Restaurant.

We pulled into Murdo because the advertising for the Star touted a AAA rating. Yes, you would think after our hotel issues in Rapid City I would know better than to trust AAA ever again but no. We were pleasantly surprised that there were several cars in the parking area and we mistakenly thought this was a good sign and that the locals ate here too.

Upon entering the restaurant our hopes were immediately dashed that we were going to get a good meal. We were greeted by a sign that said for us to wait to be seated and to please be patient. I didn't understand it at the time but oh did I get it afterwards. There was one other tourist family in the restaurant, so I assume the cars have to be from the employees.

Before ordering I checked out the 'salad bar'. It was filled with very large, mostly empty, containers and I just knew it was not as fresh as advertised. When a salad bar has huge containers of dressings and little product, just walk away. We should have walked out the door at this point but we didn't. Oh, how I wished we did.

Tobey ordered a burger and I ordered chicken strips. The food wasn't just bad it was terrible. Tobey's burger was tasteless and my chicken strips were rock hard. The waitress even seemed somewhat sorry to serve that slop to us. We couldn't get out of there fast enough.

We travelled on to Sioux Falls and met up with Rosie at Sioux Valley Hospital where her mother is staying. It was so good to see her and it would be the first of many cryfests I had on this trip. Rose hadn't changed one bit. Not one. She and I will always have that sort of relationship that if we don't talk for a while and when we do we will pick right up where we left off.

After leaving the hospital we unwisely decided to drive from Sioux Falls up to St. Cloud, Minnesota and then due east to the I-35 which would take us to Duluth. It was getting late, Tobey was sick, probably from his Star Burger and it began to rain. I pulled the car into the first hotel parking lot I could find.

We landed somewhere near Brookings, South Dakota at a newly built Motel 8. Don't let the stigma of a Motel 8 throw you off. This place was the nicest place we stayed on our entire trip. They upgraded us to a business suite with free wi-fi and the most heavenly bed on the planet. We slept like babies for the first time since we left home.

Tune in tomorrow for our arrival in Duluth and our day trips to Bear Lake, Split Rock Lighthouse, Gooseberry Falls and the lighthouse at Two Harbors.



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