Thursday, June 30, 2011

De Smet, SD – Rest Day

Sleeping-in this morning was top priority for me!  We changed our hair appointment to this afternoon so we could be out and about this morning when it hopefully would be a little cooler. It did get hot here today! The weather is to change and we hope the wind is out of the north as they are predicting.    

 We drove to the original Ingalls Homestead located just outside of the town of De Smet.  This area is presently privately owned.  In the Visitors center we watched a short film before walking to the buildings and outdoor activities.  Their goal for your visit at the ‘Ingalls Homestead’ is for it to be a hands-on experience, especially for children. There are activities such as spinning wool, braiding stripes of cloth to make a small rug/coaster, rope making, washing clothes – using a hand cranked wringer, hanging clothes on the line, and then rides on little horses or in carts pulled by gentle horses. Later you can ride in a covered wagon which takes you to the prairie school house.  At the school house a teacher will meet you.  Inside you first put on prairie style clothes including aprons and bonnets or straw hats, and then you sit for a class session. Kids would love this place.  My cousin in California wrote that at night her husband is reading the ‘Little House’ series to their children right now – they would love this place.

Sod House built on the Ingalls Homestead

Shanty House built on the Ingalls Homestead

Inside the Shanty House

Replica of the Original Ingalls House at the Homestead Site

Kitchen in the Ingalls House

Bedroom in the Ingalls House

Children Spinning Wool

Barn with Hay Roof on the Ingalls Homestead

Ingalls House - Gardens (foreground) and Hay Roof Barn (background)

Ingalls Barn - Rides given on two wheeled cart and Covered Wagon
Surveyers House - First Ingalls House When they Arrived in De Smet, SD while Pa worked on the Railroad

Replica of Brewster School - The School where Laura Taught

Interior of Brewster School

Ingalls House in De Smet - House built by Pa when they moved off the Homestead

This afternoon we had lunch at the downtown soda fountain/variety shop/gift shop. Everywhere you go in this town there are ‘Little House’ mementoes. Lunch was followed by a great nap before our much needed hair cuts.

The weather is predicted to change tomorrow, so that the wind will be from the north. This being the case, Cal will be riding south all day. We need to go south and east to reach home.  We thought we wanted to catch a little of Minnesota to hit another State on this adventure, but it is more important to go with the wind.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Huron, SD to DeSmet, SD ( 43 miles):

Cal was warned by our friend Bill (who rode bike across the US too) that the South Dakota plain was one windy place!  Yesterday and today have confirmed his statement!  Today the ride had cross winds of 15-25 mph.  Cal rode into De Smet by and we began our ‘rest day’. He was definitely ready to stop.  Tomorrow the temperature will be in the mid 90’s, so it will be a good day to be in air conditioning at the motel.  However in the morning before it is too hot we want to check out all the sites in the area related to Laura Ingalls Wilder of “Little House on the Prairie”.  De Smet, SD is where Ma and Pa lived for many years. We can tell you more in tomorrow’s blog.

A View if the Flat South Dakota Countryside

This morning we drove back to where Cal stopped yesterday.  After Cal was on the road I returned to Huron and found an antique shop in which to browse.  At this point we do not know the direction we will precede on Friday – direction depends on the wind – east or south. If we go east I want to stop at Arlington, SD as they have several antique shops.

We are in one of the nicest motels so far – they have given us the suite since we will be here for 2 nights.  The other day we talked to friends on the phone – they wanted to know if we were staying in luxury motels.  Well no, not quite!  Some are definitely been nicer than others, but a lot of the small towns we have been passing through only have one or two motels, so we are lucky to have a bed.  All the places have been clean, almost all of them have had a refrigerator and a microwave, and we have been able to store the bike inside every night. So we cannot complain.

This afternoon was laundry day, and I also made an appointment so each of us will receive a much needed haircut tomorrow.

As I mentioned earlier the wind will not stop blowing over this flat prairie.  It is so flat you can see for miles and miles.  It is difficult to capture this concept on a photo.  I hope you enjoy some of my photos of bird life. This morning while passing a marsh I noticed the round hay bales placed in the water – ducks had built nests on the top of the bales.     
A View from the Drivers Seat

Out For a Morning Swim

Nest on a Hay Bale in the Marsh

A Pair of Western Grebe

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Faulkton, SD to Huron, SD

As expected, today was tough!  The day began with 37 miles straight into a wind coming from the south, followed by 34 miles either into the wind with maybe a slight cross wind. There was no way getting around the wind. It was 72 miles of hard work! Any of you who ride or have ridden know how deflating a wind is to a biker.  At Cal felt like he had already ridden 75 miles. Cal stopped at 5:00 this evening (enough is enough), about 10 miles short of Huron, so tomorrow he will start where he stopped today.   

This morning before we left Faulkton we drove by the "Pink Castle" or the Pickler Mansion.  In 1889 Mr. Pickler was the first US Representative from this new State of South Dakota.  What I found so interesting
is that Mr Pickler's family lived in Iowa. During the Civil War Mr Pickler was Captain in the Third Iowa Cavalry, then after the Civil war he attended  Iowa State University.  Mrs Pickler was born near Iowa City, Iowa and she also attended Iowa State University.  They married and he attended law school in Michigan, but returned to Iowa to begin practicing law in Muscatine, IA.  In 1882 they moved to the Dakota Territory establishing a law practice and land development business.  In 1889 he was elected as the first Representative of S.D. I know this is 'old stuff', but they were from our part of the Iowa, before they went 'farther west'!   
Not much happened to day – there are photo of farm equipment, and other things we saw along the way. 
It is interesting how all farmstead have an extensive natural windbreak of trees.

Grain bins and Wind Break around a Farm House - Notice the Additional Bins behind the Wind Break

Airplane Spraying Crops
An Example of the Massive Farm Equipment seen Working the Fields

An Example of the Massive Farm Equipment seen Working the Fields

South Dakota tries to do what ever they can to have a large pheasant and quail population.  When farmland has a low spot, the farmer creates a marsh/wetland for the duck, birds, etc.  The edge of the marsh also protects other game.  I do not know what this extremely wet spring will do to the pheasant nesting habitat, but they are around. SD definitely tries to appeal to hunters.  Tonight we are staying where they have the World’s Largest Pheasant.  See photo. The motel even provides an area for ‘game cleaning’!

The Largest Pheasant in the World - Huron, South Dakota

Today before lunch I went ahead approximately 20 miles to Miller, SD.  Besides picking up items for lunch I found a women’s shop! Yeah!  I haven’t seen a women’s shop for a few days!  Since I had time, I looked through the sales racks –Yikes! - I found a few items! 

Tomorrow we plan to go straight east to De Smet – of “Little House of the Prairie” fame.  We are planning on taking Thursday as a rest day  - after encountering the wind Cal needs a rest day.

Here are some additional photos of scenes we saw today.

Mural of Life in Early Rural South Dakota - Miller, South Dakota
Mural of Pheasant Hunting in South Dakota - Huron, South Dakota

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mobridge to Faulkton, SD (100 miles)

Today was a dream ride!  The wind (15-20 mph) was at Cal’s back.  By the time we had lunch he had already gone 50 miles.  The town of Faulkton is 96 miles from Mobridge, so Cal rode east of town 4 miles so that he can say he rode 100 miles one day – thanks to the wind!  The sun was shinning all day and the high temp was in the upper 60’s.  With the wind, you did want to wear a cover-up to stay warm.

When deciding our route for the day, besides taking into consideration where we could stay tonight, we wanted to go by Hoven, SD, as they have a “Cathedral of the Prairie”.  What a surprise, a small town with this beautiful two spire Cathedral, completed in 1920.  It is known as “The Big Church in a Little Town”.  While Cal and I were inside looking around, a woman our age arrived.  She went to where a small amount of restoration was being done.  It was obvious faux painting/finish was going to be needed.  Since I have a little experience with faux graining, I began talking to her.  OH My!  We realized we were going to have a personal tour of the Cathedral.  Cal excused himself to keep riding (another 50 miles), but I knew I had plenty of time (most of the afternoon, if need be) for her to tell me anything she wanted.  This gal, a local parish volunteer, is an artist who had done hours of faux restoration on this Cathedral and other churches in the area.  She showed me her restoration work and we discussed her techniques.  They found the original stencils used for most of the designs in the attic of a parishioner. 

"Cathedral of the Prairie" - St Anthony of Padua Catholic church, Hoven S.D.



Ceiling Arches

Close up of ceiling

She began by telling me the history of this Cathedral, she showed me all the unique features of the Cathedral, told me all about the special features of the stain glass windows, even had me standing on the pews for a photo at just the right angle, and invited me to go to the balcony to have a closer look at the ceiling design.  A stain glass window behind the altar (I could see it, but not for a photo) is of the Virgin Mary and Joseph being married by the High Priest - it shows Joseph holding Mary's hand on which there is a wedding band. One of the stain glass windows in the santuary is of the Virgin Mary and you can see her wearing a wedding band. (photos below) Note the wedding band is on the right hand (European style). What a special afternoon, spent with a very talented woman.

Stained Glass Window Depicting The Virgin Mary

Stained Glass Window Depicting The Virgin Mary With Wedding Band

Close-Up of Mary's Hand and Wedding Band

Back on the road again!  The following are some photos taken along the way on a beautiful South Dakota day.

Yellowheaded Blackbirds - male and female, sitting on a fence near their nest in the marsh
Lazy afternoon on the South Dakota Prairie 

Tomorrow may be another interesting day – overnight the wind is change directions – being in Cal’s face tomorrow.  Say tuned as how far he goes!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

McLaughlin to Mobridge, SD

What a day, what a day, what a day!! The following photo will describe the day!

It was cloudy this morning, but we went west to where Cal stopped riding last evening, and he began riding.  As he rode the sky was becoming darker and darker until about the 7th mile, it began to pour.  I had been staying within sight of him, so I was right there when it began to rain.  We sat approximately 15 minutes until that storm passed and Cal was able to ride the half mile to a convenience store in McLaughlin. He parked the bike between the gas pumps under the canopy and we went inside for a cup of coffee while it poured again.  We actually sat inside for an hour and a half, before going out to the Envoy to take a nap.  Finally it stopped raining so Cal was able to make another effort at riding. We stopped two more times for storms to pass.  In the end Cal made it the whole way to Mobridge - 38 miles - shortest day of the whole trip, but the first day we have had to contend with severe storms.

I went to the Sitting Bull and Sacagawea (Sakakawea) monuments outside of Mobridge. The bust of Sitting Bull and both monuments over look the beautiful Missouri River valley and Lake Oahe.  The Oahe Dam on the Missouri River at Pierre, SD creates Lake Oahe that extends this far north. By the way, the towns name - Mobridge – is the creative name for a town with three bridges over the Missouri River at the junction of the Grand River flowing into the Missouri. The Missouri River is higher in this location than what is normal, but there is no flood danger.

Sacagawea Memorial Plaque on the Monument

Sacagawea Memorial Monument

Sitting Bull Bust and Memorial at Burial Site
Bridge across the Missouri River (Lake Oahe)
The temperature did not get out of the 60’s today.  It was simply damp and chilly, however early evening was beautiful, no rain, but there are more storms forecasted for overnight.  Tomorrow is to be clear with the wind from the northwest, so Cal hopes to get a lot of miles under his belt. Tonight Cal cleaned and oiled his bike after all the dirt and moisture today.

Today I saw two new (new to me) species of birds. I have enjoyed taking the time to watch birds. I just sit in the Envoy watch the marshes and roadsides with my binoculars while I am waiting on Cal. I guess that Ornithology (study of birds) class in college paid off!! One species eluded me for several days. They were only in marshes and they would not sit/stand still long enough to really look for makings. I decided to try to get photos of them (even if they were not fully in focus) and I finally identified them.

Bob, if you are reading this, there are plenty of Meadow Larks in this part of the country.  Even if I don’t see them, I hear them all the time

We are seeing more beef cattle on ranches, and are beginning to see a few fields of corn however wheat is still the main tillable crop.

A scene along the highway which indicates that you are in the TRUE West!

Hettinger, ND to McLaughlin, SD

The blog for Saturday June 25 was posted Sunday morning June 26, 2011.

After having breakfast in the cafĂ© where all the Hettinger locals meet for breakfast, Cal was on the road. Within 14 miles we were leaving North Dakota and entered South Dakota. 

We are traveling on Hwy 12, also referred to as the Yellowstone Trail.  They say Hwy 12 was the first transcontinental automobile highway through the northern tier of states. It goes from Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts to Puget Sound in Washington State however it began as a road from Minneapolis, MN to Yellowstone National Park.  In the early day of the automobile, often locals would build the roads themselves so they could get to town and markets. Thus the Yellowstone Trail was built by local citizens.

The weather was lovely today however there was a slight headwind, but it did not seem to affect Cal.  We came to the town of Lemmon.  I saw a sign for the Petrified Wood Park.  I decided to drive the 3 blocks into town to see what this was about.  OH MY! 

The prairie area 25-30 miles around Lemmon has a large quantity of petrified wood. In 1930 a gentleman (an amateur geologist) from Lemmon began collecting Petrified wood. He hired men (during the great depression) to work for him to haul the petrified wood to town and develop this park.  It was amazing!  I called Cal and told him he must stop and see this park/museum.  Petrified wood is trees/wood that has been covered by soil for millions of years.  Over this time period the wood has been replaced by minerals forming rock/petrified wood.

Petrified Museum Building
Smooth Round Stones found in the area

It was about when we realized we were going to have problems finding a motel for tonight.  This weekend there are family reunions, weddings, class reunions, etc filling the motels in the area.  We not only inquired about motels but also about camping areas. There was nothing! Therefore we had no choice but drive into Mobridge for the night. Cal did ride longer today so that we would be as close to Mobridge as possible.  The latest he has ridden has been , but today he rode until .  I stayed fairly close to him so that when he decided he had enough, I would be there for him to load.           

In the end Cal rode 85 miles before he stopped.  We loaded the bike and drove 30 miles into Mobridge, SD.  Tomorrow we will drive back to where he stopped this evening and he will continue peddling east.  

Mobridge is on the Missouri River, so after tomorrow we will be east of the Missouri River and all of the major flooding issues. Tomorrow we will also be in the Central Time Zone. Closer home!!!                                         
Farmers still find Petrified wood in their fields. In that farmers do not plow the fields as has been the practice in the past, they do not find as much now.  People use it decoratively in rock gardens, etc.