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Day three :: September 21, 2004: 12:50 AM

Monday, September 20th 2004

Day 3

We started the day having traveled 1022 miles on the trip on the previous two days.

We had a couple of options:
One was to travel 3-400 miles and camp, the other to push on as far as we could which would probably mean another motel but would get us closer to the first of our goals: the Badlands 708.9 miles away. With a cold front, wind and rain anticipated we chose the latter and set off.

Leaving Wisconsin we passed tall signs, like fuel ones, but with things like Cheese and :A& W All American Food" -- which reminded us we were told have some Wisconsin brewed root beer on our trip...

We passed Sparta "Bicycling Capital of America" and after the Wisconsin Dells area we thought maybe the countryside was starting to level out...until at the side of the road we passed an awesome chunk of rock called Castle Rock. we took the turn off ("wayside") and immediately were dumbstruck at the sight: it was true! Wisconsin's legendary cleanliness in action -- a state worker was cleaning the outside of the trash cans-- more! she was applying polish to the outside o the garbage bins. Well, there was more to it, of course. The squirrels had taken to chewing holes in the lids and they did not like the taste of the smelly polish...

Anyway, the rock is what remains of islands in a glacial lake so it was heavily eroded. The base and some higher parts were covered in graffiti, including the first www graffiti I have seen carved in stone. The rock was surrounded a fine beige sand and trees clung to with long and twisted, exposed roots. I loved it and it reminded me why I am on this trip...lots of rocks and quite a few trees.

The flat landscape was the bottom of the glacial lake.

Continuing the clean theme...

..it occurred to us around Tomah, WI that we had not seen any of the usual debris of I-90 travel: shredded tires…squashed animals. The former could be the active police presence and non-speeding trucks, but the latter…? We presumed a crew of neat and tidy people had already been out twice today picking it all up and hosing down the shoulder. So we started watching out for litter…just a fast food bag on the median or the verges: nothing.100 miles into the day we saw it! A squashed skunk. Mike said:”It must have been a tourist who did not know he/she was supposed get out and pick up your animal after you hit it.”

The 65mph speed limit, assiduously kept, seemed to be making us make worse time than we hoped. Minnesota was to help us move along, the 75 in South Dakota was what really helped us make it up.

We turned off the I-90 and went into La Crosse, the border town of WI where the “laser enforced speed limit” signs made us wonder what might happen if….but no-one disobeyed. I guess they all knew. We picnicked by the Black River where a Mississippi style paddle boat was docked – it was a few hundred yards off course I guess. I had the root beer as directed. Back on the I-90 we immediately crossed the Mississippi River where a small sign on the bridge announced our arrival in Minnesota. No goodbye from Wisconsin – I figure WI was sulking after laying on the sunset for our arrival and then us leaving so soon and having spent so little money.

The next 2-3 miles were extraordinary. We climbed quickly among the bluffs and the wooded islands and swollen waters of the river could be glimpsed through the trees. We were soon on a plateau and the landscape changed to neatest farms ever seen—they looked like a child’s farm set. I’m sure the corn (maize) was straighter and in more evenly spaced rows, every building looked freshly painted in green and red and sparkling white. No-one’s yard was messy and the grass trimmed right to the edge of the road.

Then among all this neatness we saw two signs…the first announcing WALL DRUG – it was our mile 1299 and that store several hundred miles away….the second for the SPAM MUSEUM!! As we came over a slight hill we saw the words: TRUST ME…then the familiar can and “The Spam Museum”…50 miles later…”Like the Vatican but for SPAM.” How could we resist?

Austin showed signs of recent flooding. The museum was on winter hours and closed for a returment party which was fione as we wanted to get on – the stsore was open and that was what we wanted! Austin is home to Hormel foods and one of the main meat processing plants of the nation (AAA says so) and it smelt of smoked sausage. Our son-in-law will be glad to hear that the adjoining gas station was the cheapest of the trip $1.73.

Other interesting things – gates on the thruway to stop access during snowier times. The look of the land –very flat with frequent copses of trees and on the south side of them a farm sheltering from the cold northern winds; windmill farms that looked from a distance like twinkling lights as the massive blades caught the sun.

1400 miles into the trip and still 355 short of Wall Drug the skies became gray and overcast, the temperature began to drop rapidly from the mid 80s to 80 then down to 70 and even 67. At mile 1433 we had the first rain of the trip, the remains of tropical storm (pacific) Javier I believe.

At 10 miles to the South Dakota border it became very heavy and windy. There was no clue as to the4 spped limit but after a few miles we saw a reduce speed now to 65 for roadwork so we knew we could get a move on! We missed Sioux Falls in the rain.By Mitchell, it was barely raining again and the sun tried to break through a little. We decided to stop to see the much heralded Corn Palace…we were told about it before the trip and here were the signs: “from ear to eternity” and “corn-ceptual art” and “prepare to be a-maize-d” and eventually ‘you’re almost ear”….a building covered in corns of different hue…and so cheesy we almost could not bear to seen photographing it. It’s on the web and we refuse to help you locate it.

Cabela’s in Mitchell SD by the way, is “the world’s foremost outfitter” – you probably knew that already.

In Mitchell we went to a wonderful restaurant that fully made up for the Corn palace and we saw SUDZ Laundromat and Casino whose logo is a frothing tankard of beer. We decided it was only just after 8pm so we could go on. We passed the South Dakota Hall of Fame (closed – aw shucks!) crossed the Missouri in the dark and rain and arrived at Murdo and a Best Wetsern motel with internet (duh!) at 10.10pm central but as this is the border it might have been 9:10 pm Mountain time.

The trip milometer reads 1663 at the end of day 3. Today we traveled 641 miles.
Yesterday’s new states were Indiana, Illinois (apart from plane changes), Michigan (just!) and Wisconsin for Mike. Today Minnesota and South Dakota (Iowa was 10 miles away but we wanted to push on.)


http://www.cornpalace.org/newpages/palace.html - The World's Only Corn Palace ... well ... I can see why, I'm not sure the world could cope with more than one.

Posted by: Rachel at September 21, 2004 08:00 AM


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