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Travelogue -- Crossing the Plains

Thursday, July 7, 2016

On July 3, we had a leisurely morning in Tomah, WI while Diane and Todd struggled in vain to find anyplace in town where they could get a cell signal or wifi to do some more route planning with their smartphones. They couldn't decide if they wanted to stay on I-90 or take I-94. South Dakota or North Dakota, that was the question. In the end, they never did find any reception so they had to plan using their old 50 States road atlas, which led them to conclude that I-90 was the way to go.

So on they drove into Minnesota. We crossed the mighty Mississippi River, but it was so early in the day's driving that we didn't stop to do any recreating. The rolling green hills of the farmland were as bucolic as any you'll find in the world, and the air smelled clean and fresh, and although it was somewhat monotonous, it was pretty.

As lunch time rolled around, Todd happily had enough cell reception to learn that there was a state park on a lake where we could stop for a walk and a snack. It was called Myre-Big Island. When we got to the Big Island parking area, there were people setting up for a wedding in the picnic pavilion, and if I do say so myself, they had a most perfect day for a wedding. Blue sky, perfect temperature, a nice little breeze. 

We took a nice walk and I got to swim twice, although afterward, as we were driving away, Diane started to think it hadn't been such a good idea to let me swim because surrounding that park on all sides were field after field of corn with signs from energy companies marking the sections. The corn was being grown for ethanol, which Diane concluded meant that it was probably grown with more pesticides and fertilizers than are allowed in corn for food. But they did wash me off with fresh water after I swam because I also might have rolled in some mud, so Todd figured it had all been okay. I feel fine, so I don't think there was anything wrong with that water.

After lunch, Diane took a long spell of driving, finishing up Minnesota and bring in us to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Todd wanted to drive all night after a stop for dinner because, as he put, "we started the trip on the back foot," and he wanted "to get on the front foot." By that I think he meant that we had gotten into a rut of finishing up our driving later and later each night, and he wanted to fix it by just driving all night.

Fortunately for all of us, Diane prevailed upon him to compromise and they decided we'd go as far as Chamberlain, South Dakota and then stop until morning. Todd wanted to see the Badlands, and if he drove all night, he'd pass them right by, so it didn't take much to bring him around to this plan. 

As we drove out of Sioux Falls, we saw fireworks everywhere, people celebrating Fourth of July weekend all around us. Soon enough though, the fireworks stopped and we were on the darkest highway yet. No lights, no towns, few exits, not even any illuminated billboards. At last we reached a really nice rest area near Chamberlain where people aren't supposed to camp but parking for up to 3 hours is okay. There were dozens of campers and tractor trailers there already, so we found a nice place to park and settled in.
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