Day 12: Joplin, Missouri

Hey y’all! (Headed South…gotta start talking right. Haha)

Paul and I woke up in Sioux Falls this morning and were sad to say goodbye to South Dakota. We did make one stop here (you KNOW I couldn’t help myself!) here it is.

The USS South Dakota Memorial is dedicated to a US Navy Battleship that was in commission for less than five years! Because of her World War II exploits against the Japanese in the South Pacific, the USS South Dakota became a legend before she was even a year old. Her wartime accomplishments were reported in newspapers under the name “battleship X” and “Old Nameless”. When the Navy announced that it was going to scrap the battleship, a group formed to save part of it. The memorial has a foot-high concrete outline on the ground, 680 feet long. Along with the anchor, it includes the ship’s bell, a massive propeller, and other pieces. There is an original 16-inch gun and the actual flag mast. Every other year, alumni of the battleship South Dakota gather on its deck (lawn) for a reunion of these heroes and their families.

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I snitched this next photo from the memorial’s website so you could see how it looks from the air. I hope they don’t mind!

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USS South Dakota Memorial, Sioux Falls, SD

Moving on down the interstate to Iowa! We were intrigued by a place we read about that was in Sioux City.

Trinity Heights was the dream of Father Harold Cooper after he saw a statue of Mary on a trip to California. He tried to buy an old Catholic college on the edge of Sioux City, Iowa. But it was owned by a Savings and Loan who wanted a lot of money for the property. Father Cooper and a small group gathered on the site every day at 4pm to pray for a miracle. Two years later, in 1987, the Savings and Loan crisis occurred and Father Cooper was able to buy the land at 25% of the previous asking price. Who says prayer doesn’t work?

There is a 30ft statue of Mary, a 33ft statue of Jesus, as well as smaller pieces. The life size wood carving of the Last Supper inside the center is phenomenal! The artist gave seven years of his life to create this project. It is a beautiful, quiet place that is “Catholic in theology and ecumenical in intent”.

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Just a few miles away from Trinity Heights is the Sergeant Charles Floyd Monument. Any of you who are as interested in the Lewis and Clark Expedition as I am, recognize this name as belonging to the Corps of Discovery’s only fatality. Sergeant Floyd died of a probable burst appendix near present-day Sioux City, Iowa on the upstream voyage in 1804. The Captains Lewis and Clark named the hilltop where he is buried “Floyd’s Bluff”. The current monument was completed in 1901 and in June 1960 was recognized as the first National Historic Landmark.

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Did you notice there were 15 stars and 15 stripes on this flag? The flag that flies over Sgt. Floyd’s monument is an accurate reproduction of the flag that the expedition operated under in 1804.

If you have looked at a map you can see we are passing through Iowa toward Missouri, but we are SO close to Nebraska so we thought, “Why not?”

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Actually we just took a short detour to pay homage to the old Rosenblatt Stadium shrine. Let’s all take a moment…⚾

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Back to Iowa!

Apparently the good folks from Council Bluffs, Iowa wanted to make sure people were aware when they crossed from Nebraska to Iowa via I-80. Well you can’t miss it now! This is just one piece of “Odyssey”, four giant multi-ton metal piles of cones and cylinders and jagged discs. It cost $3.5 million. I agree with a lot of other people in thinking it looks more like “Freddy Krueger hands”. You be the judge.

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Between Kansas City and Joplin, MO we spied this huge mushroom on the side of the interstate.

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This, I have learned, is to promote Morel mushrooms which are grown near here. I am endlessly amused at what we find on the side of the road as advertisement. I wonder if people do this in other parts of the world? 😊

Arrival in Joplin, Missouri! We are staying at a Drury Inn for the first time and I must say, I’m pretty impressed. What they called free “snacks” were substantial enough for us to call “supper”, free breakfast, a great price and this…

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After twelve days on the road, Daddy deserved a recliner in the room…no extra charge!

Looking forward to tomorrow…

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Day 11: South Dakota

We are heading across South Dakota today toward Sioux Falls. But first we had a few things to see in Deadwood this morning before we strike out.

One of the most famous residents of Deadwood was Wild Bill Hickok. Wild Bill was a scout, lawman, gunfighter and gambler. He was playing poker on August 2, 1876 and had taken the only seat available to him, the one with his back to the door. Wild Bill usually sat facing the door and twice he asked another player to change seats, to no avail. He was shot dead in the back of the head while he was holding a pair of aces and a pair of eights, all black (now known as dead man’s hand).

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This is the Midnight Star, a restaurant and casino owned by Kevin Costner.

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We headed up a hill above Deadwood to Mt Moriah Cemetery to see Wild Bill’s grave. Apparently this is quite the tourist stop. I’ve never before seen a gift shop at a cemetery!

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And look who’s buried next to Bill, Calamity Jane.

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This is the view down to town from the cemetery.

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On down the road to Sturgis!

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Downtown Sturgis (must be VERY different when the motorcycles are in town!)

Also in Sturgis we saw this memorial for Charles Nolin. Charles, also known as “Red”, was a pony mail carrier who was ambushed, killed, and scalped on this spot by Indians on August 19, 1876. (Did everything out here happen in 1876??) What made this especially sad is that there was a group of people hauling hay to Deadwood that were camped nearby. They tried to get “Red” to stay with them because they had heard Indian war cries nearby. But he insisted on leaving because he had promised his mother that this would be his last ride. (Sniff, sniff)

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The next stop…the famous Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota!! It all started when a small drug store was bought by Ted Hustead in 1931. Business was slow until Ted’s wife suggested advertising free ice water to travelers headed to the brand-new Mount Rushmore. From that moment on business has been great! Wall Drug is now a shopping mall, department store, western art museum, chapel and more. They still offer free ice water! We love Wall Drug!

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Ok. I’m really excited about our next stop! We just happened upon it and I’m so glad we did. The Minuteman Missile National Historic Site was established in 1999 to show the history and significance of the Cold War, the arms race, and intercontinental ballistic missile development. We stopped at the main office of the site where there were exhibits and a short film. You can also take a tour of a missile silo and launch facility! How cool! But the elevator that takes you down was not working today so we couldn’t do that part. Major bummer! I WILL be back to go down in a missile silo!!

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A Missileer’s Chair, it has seat belts so that if the Earth shook because we were under nuclear attack, the Missileers could still launch their missiles!

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Missile locations in South Dakota

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A missile sent from South Dakota could hit the Kremlin in 30 minutes!

God Bless Reagan! Peace through strength!

And now we are off again. Look at these little cuties.

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Prairie Dogs are everywhere!

The sites we see on the side of the road…

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The landscape pretty much looked like this all day…

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Or this…

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Or this…

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Mitchell, SD is next on the hit parade. Found another of these…

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And the world famous Corn Palace!

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The Corn Palace is a multi-purpose building, built in 1921, that is decorated with crop art. The murals and designs covering the building are made from corn and other crops. Each year has a different theme and as you can see from the pictures, they are working on this year’s theme now!

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And yet another roadside oddity…

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We have settled down for the night in Sioux Falls, SD, and will begin to head south tomorrow. It feels like we have been gone a month! Back to reality soon. 😊