Day 20 – South Dakota
Date: 06/21/2016 Tuesday
Starting Location: Wall, SD
Ending Location: Sioux Falls, SD
Starting Odometer: 10869
Ending Odometer: 11335.9
Mileage Today: 345 Miles
Mileage Total: 4483.5 miles
Today’s MPG: 35 mpg (The Worst mpg yet)
Total Average MPG: 42 mpg
I left Wall early this morning, in order to get to the Minuteman Silo by 8AM, with the hope that I’ll be able to get one of the tickets for the underground tour. So, the day started at 6:45, and i headed to the Badlands.
In general terms, i left the hotel, rode through the Badlands, then stopped at the Minuteman Control Facility and Visitor Center, and then visited the Delta – 09 Silo, and then on to the Corn Palace, and to the hotel.
I entered the Badlands at about 7:00 AM, and after making my way through the gate, I found a dirt road with a sign that indicated that the “Prairie Dog city” was 5 miles ahead. I turned onto this dirt road, and almost immediately, I came upon some Pronghorn Antelopes that were in, and near the road. I thought that i had the camera running, and that I had captured everything on video, but when I got to the hotel tonight, I realized that I did not capture any of the video. I was really.disappointed to learn that I missed this video.
The video captured me riding along with the Pronghorns, as they were within 2-3 feet of my bike, as I rode forward at about 1-2 mph. The bigger disappointment was my sighting of a bighorn sheep as I turned a corner on the dirt road. I stopped the bike, and while I was getting the camera out of my tank bag so that I could take pictures, the sheep started to walk away. I was able to get a photo of him, at a distance of about 25 feet.
After I took this picture, the Big Horn walked a few more feet forward, and disappeared over the edge, down into the Badlands. These creatures are very agile, and I’m sure that he was able to walk down that hill, regardless of how steep it was.
Riding through Badlands
The Badlands is an awe-inspiring, violent landscape. Everywhere you look you find more and more dramatic and harsh landscapes. I did my best to capture a number of different types of rock formations and transitions as I saw them. Enjoy the pictures.
Minuteman Historical Visitor Center
Leaving the Badlands park, I passed the Visitors Center, and head towards Interstate 90. As it happens, just on the other side of Interstate 90 (actually it is .4 miles) is the Visitor Center for one of the Minuteman Missile command Centers. This building also contains a Cold War Museum, which talks about the escalation and de-escalation of arms throughout the 1960s, and up until the year 2000.
I arrived at the Visitor Center at about 8:15, and spoke to a ranger who said that all of the tours are booked, and they were sold out by 8:05 AM. So, my options were limited, so I took the option to drive 15 miles West of the Visitor Center, effectively heading back towards Wall, SD, so that I could visit the Minuteman Missile Silo, which was numbered Delta 9.
The trip took about 20 minutes. I walked up to the gate, took the video, and headed over to the silo. I called into a telephone number with my iPhone, and heard a voice prompt that would play an audio track for any of the 10 different stations.
Crossing the Chasm
Somewhere along the way, as I rode on I-90 (actually, it was at 10:35 AM MST), I noticed as sign on the side of the road that indicated that I was entering the central time zone. I looked down at the GPS and the speedometer console, and noticed that both were still set to what appeared to be MST. After stopping at a truck stop, and restarting the bike, the speedometer console had corrected itself, and now showed the time zone as CST. The GPS ETA had not changed. In fact, the GPS knew in advance that I was going to cross into another time zone, and as a result, it had already been showing the arrival time, corrected for the time zone change.
The Corn Palace – Whaaaaattttttt
The next stop in the never-ending parade of amazing places, I had left the plot of land where a Minuteman Missile had been placed, just 25 years ago. Now, I find myself headed towards the icon of pride and natural resources in the Midwest.
I had talked to many people about The Corn Palace and I guess I concluded that the Corn Palace is the kind of thing that you need to see, because it’s an icon, and it is historically significant. After careful contemplation, I decided that I should visit it, based on the historical significance alone. So, off I went to the Corn Palace.
Arriving in Mitchell, I find that the 6 block area around the Cow Palace is under construction. Perhaps it’s not a full 6 block area, but the way that I arrived, it caused me to go 6 blocks out of the way before I could get turned around, and get to “The Palace”.
For sure, there is an undeniable rural splendor in seeing a building who’s entire front facade has ears of corn stapled to it. And, if you’re like me, and you find intrigue in just about anything of historical significance, then this hast to be the kind of place that I’ll love.
Now, I don’t want to complain, but after walking through the Corn Palace, i could not really find any reason to want to visit it. I mean, if you compare it with Wall Drug, and you think about all of the chotchkies that can be sold at Wall Drug, all of the chotchkies sold at the Corn Palace are related to corn. So, that should put things in perspective.
There is no reason to visit this place, but… I did learn a few interesting facts. First of all, both Tommy Dorsey and John Philip Sousa all headlined shows in Mitchell at the Corn Palace. And, perhaps more irrelevant, I can also say that Styx is scheduled to perform at the Palace in August. Imagine, one of my favorite bands is coming to Mitchell, SD, to play the Corn Palace.
So, what’s on store for tomorrow?
I have about 240 miles to ride tomorrow, with no National Parks or Monuments along the way. So, I might just enjoy the ride, stopping only at the place that looks to be the most interesting. After arriving at the hotel, I’m having dinner with a couple of friends.