Thursday, July 13, 2017

"Non-Corn" Stuff from Athens, AL to Sturgis, SD

As noted previously, we did not dilly-dally enroute to Sturgis, SD, but there are some things to note besides corn.  First off, for our RVing friends, we can recommend 4 good RV parks - Marion Campground and RV Park in Marion, IL,  Country Gardens in Odessa, MO (just east of Kansas City), Victorian Acres in Nebraska City, NE, and R&R Campground in Mitchell, SD.

We crossed lots of rivers, most of which we have navigated by boat including the Cumberland, Ohio, Tennessee, and Mississippi.  We were looking forward to seeing the Arch in St. Louis again, remembering the view from the Mississippi River in 2013.

This time the best we got was this.........

And in this one, it appears that Rhonda is confused about which arch(es) to photograph!

Traveling by boat at roughly 8 MPH with the waterway pretty much to yourself, you have plenty of time to plan and execute photo shots.  But going 60 MPH with lots of others on the highway, things just happen too fast sometimes to get the shot you want. And it's not like you can do a 360-degree turn on the highway and come back around for another shot at it! 

OK, our opinion on this next one.  We hear Illinois is on the verge of going bankrupt.  So, we have a suggestion.  Try saving some money when you can instead of wasting it on ridiculous projects like putting a mile marker sign every 2 tenths of a mile on all of your interstate highways.  They say timing is everything - try photographing one of these babies at 65 MPH just a few feet away.  Just picture Rhonda doing this - she knows another hundred or so of these are coming, she can see each one of them coming, she knows she has to try and plan the camera delay, well you get the picture. Hey, when there is mostly just corn out there, you need some entertainment every now and then!  But back to the point.  I did not major in math but I'm pretty sure there are 5 of these for every mile. There are 1,989 miles of interstate highway in Illinois times 5 = 9,945 of these!  (Does it annoy you when people pronounce the "s" on the end of Illinois?)

And you see some some strange things out there - a goose control service?  But then again, I remember when we ran the marina in Muskogee, OK and we had a serious goose problem.  The state brought in some guy to catch them and move them to Florida, I think.  He put a pen up at the boat ramp, then we shooed (is that a word?) all the geese to the water and used small boats and jet skis to slowly move them to the boat ramp.  All but a few calmly walked into the pen and once they get in a small area, they don't have enough room to maneuver and fly away.  He left with 65 of our geese, so maybe there is a demand for a goose control service!

Another odd thing - we have never seen roads named with the alphabet?? 

Now this was really strange - a three-phase hand washing station at a rest stop. Don't remember the state.   (Must not be "Illinoise" because I don't see a mile marker in the picture. Rhonda thinks it was Iowa.) You put your hands in the opening, you get soap, then you get water to wash and rinse, then you get air to dry, all timed for a pretty good sequence of events at one convenient stop.  I even went back to the truck to get our camera to take a picture.  And yes, I had to time that photo session so I would not be a suspected pervert taking pictures in the restroom of a state rest stop!!!!  I assure you, there were no witnesses. (From Rhonda: At a previous rest area stop, Wayne was walking around the building and as he approached the sign for the WOMEN's restrooms, a woman rudely told him he was in the wrong area and needed to go to the opposite side of the building. Wayne was not confused, just walking and stretching his legs)! Lighten up, people.

We had planned to go to downtown Kansas City for the 4th of July festivities - lots of music and of course, fireworks.  But we would have had to drive about 75 miles round trip from the campground, park away from the venue, take a school bus to one spot and then a shuttle to the venue.  And we had to do the last 3 of those with an estimated 75,000 other people.  I'm sure it would have been fun, but when the owner of the campground said there was always a pretty decent fireworks display right across the interstate sponsored by the city of Odessa, we took the easy route and walked a few hundred feet and enjoyed what felt like our own private show, a pretty good one at that, lasting about a half hour.

Just prior to the fireworks, Rhonda got simultaneous shots of a rainbow to the east and a nice sunset to the west.

While we were in Nebraska City, we took time to visit a legitimate tourist stop, Arbor Lodge, home of J. Sterling Morton and his family.  That's as opposed to so many tourist "traps" out there, and there are many that are a total waste of time, gimmicky at best.  Morton was Secretary of Agriculture during President Grover Cleveland's term and his most remembered achievement is the declaration of Arbor Day.  He was a tree lover and had lots of unique species of trees from all over the world planted on the estate. When he settled into the vast expanse of the Missouri River basin which he described as a wasteland, he recognized that in order to promote growth and settlement of the area, they had to have some trees!  So, after establishing Arbor Day as a holiday event to promote the planting of trees, they literally planted one million trees in Nebraska in one day.  Now that to me seems much more sensible than planting thousands of road signs!  In recognition of this historical event, Nebraska City has lots of artsy "trees" in their town.

Here's Arbor Lodge, which began as a simple 4-room cabin when the Mortons moved there.  After several expansions and facelifts, it became a 52-room mansion with a bowling alley, stables for horses and carriages, Tiffany glass ceilings, a pretty fancy deal.  Much of that was accomplished by one of Morton's three sons who made his fortune with Morton's Salt.

Check out the ceiling in the stables.

I guess they could say "Thank you, Morton's Salt!"

Back to odd things you see while traveling.  How about solar-powered stop lights for street construction projects?  New to us but makes sense.

And this has to be the largest milkshake straw ever.  I even had to pace myself  with too much cold moving too fast!

And we had one problem just east of Mitchell, SD.  One of our tires on the RV shredded all of its tread and did some damage to two fenders above and behind the tire and ruptured a hydraulic line for the self-leveling system.  That took about a day and a half to get resolved but it worked out.  The hydraulic line and tire have been taken care of and we were able to continue our travels which is the main thing. We'll deal with the fender repairs when we get home.  Thanks to "Paul's Towing Service" for reasonably priced, fast, and efficient service!

If you have ever traveled Interstate 90 in South Dakota, you probably remember the "Wall Drug" signs about every couple of miles.  Rhonda has nicknamed South Dakota "The Billboard State." Between the Corn Palace and Wall Drug there is not much landscape left!  So, we stopped at Wall Drug and left about 15 minutes later, no idea what is so special about the place, not even worthy of a picture!

And I'll close with this.  We were really surprised to see a statue of Elizabeth "Pocahontas" Warren at the welcome center on Interstate 90 at the Missouri River.  We thought she was from Massachusetts! I guess she is just trying to substantiate her claim to Native American heritage any way she can. We read recently that her upcoming political opponent in the 2018 election sent her a DNA kit - pretty funny. (From Rhonda: There's a bit of "fake news" there, and to be respectful to actual Native Americans, this statue, "Dignity," is  a 50-foot sculpture of a Native American woman holding a star quilt. It was designed by sculptor Dale Lamphere to honor the cultures of the Lakota and Dakota people.)

Coming up next post - The Badlands and Black Hills of South Dakota, Sturgis, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, and MOTORCYCLE STUFF! 

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