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Making it a Home

My sister Nancy expressed dismay regarding my continued blogging, saying, "we have become accustomed to fantastic images from Vancouver, what will you have to show us now?" I'll do what I can here is what I have to say about that. Back to the here and now as we work on making the condo our home beginning with filling the fridge and cabinets with food. Pretty exciting stuff actually.
Spending days gathering much needed items, I was thrilled to drive the MINI to Clemons and fill the produce drawers with the usual. I will say though that the traffic here is ridiculous, and I am still driving with caution.

I may have cooked on a fancy gas stove in Vancouver, however, this old version of stove works just fine. Although I made pancakes every few weeks, cooking them in a frying pan with high sides, not the easiest I might add, having a griddle again is like heaven. Plus, I get to see the cool creamer and sugar set Carol gave me some years ago. Oftentimes it is the little things that bring the greatest pleasure. Or, so I think.
Although a kitchen remodel is in our future, I know for a fact that new appliances are not nearly as reliable as old ones, having had both. Remember how we struggled with that three year old refrigerator, constantly battling ice in the bottom of the fridge? You don't? Of course not, but it is all detailed in photographs here. Wonder of wonders, that post includes some bird photos as well.

Because the big stuff is harder, we began with trying to make the patio and porch more inviting which involved trips to far too many stores looking for cute stuff. We are in what retailers probably call a transitional season, mostly all the summer stuff is long gone, replaced with back to school stuff. Bruce moved the bird bath over to the small area, along with the bird feeder, positioned so he can see it out of his office window. No birds to date, but hopefully soon. He also removed all the plantings and re-did it, nearly finishing, but not quite, in time for the biggest thunder and lightening storm to date. Holy Cow, we were stunned at the intensity, not to mention shocked that we did not lose power.
I'm still puzzling over what color to paint the shelving unit. Gray is just not cutting it. This morning, in the midst of two more storms, I found some stuff for the walls and will show you that once it is all set.

Other than shopping, fighting traffic, swimming, and the usual cooking and cleaning, things have been quiet here, in part because Bruce was in Boston for the first three days of the week. So, now that we are all caught up with the here and now, let's go back to the trip and more photos that you haven't seen yet.

When last we met, we were just heading into South Dakota with the intention of taking a winding road that went through Deadwood. The plan was thwarted soon thereafter, involving us turning around and heading to Rapid City first, because who knew how long this traffic jam was going to last?
One friend suggested we go to Deadwood, and now she knows why we did not. Instead we changed routes, dropped off our stuff at the hotel room, and headed back out to see Mt. Rushmore which was about 10 miles away. The sky was fairly intimidating, however, after coming all this way, we were going regardless.

The small city that has sprung up on the outskirts of Mr. Rushmore is called Keystone and it is as touristy as it can be. As we were only about twenty five miles from Sturgis, it is no surprise that there were bikers hanging out.
If Sturgis means nothing to you, and can't say that it would surprise me as I didn't know about it either, but there is information in this link, should you be inclined to want to know more about a rally of 500,000 motorcycle folks converging on a tiny town in South Dakota.

Seeing Mt. Rushmore from a distance was quite the thrill.
Because the weather was not ideal, although there were plenty of tourists, it was not mobbed in the late afternoon. After parking the car, you walk up to the monument amongst an avenue of state flags.
Oh look! Someone wearing a Mickey Mouse shirt, and if I'm not mistaken, that is the Florida flag facing us on the right. Well, friends, here it is in all its glory.
I'm not sure how I got it into my head that I wanted to see it in person, but we were both very glad we made this detour, especially after seeing how it was done, the reason the sculptor chose these four presidents, the equipment used, and all that sort of thing in the excellent information center. Although we did not have the time, I am sure the available films were excellent as well. All of it was remarkable including how they mostly used dynamite to make it. Plus, the workers had to climb 700 steps up to the top to work on it, followed by hanging in baskets off the mountain face!! 

As we were leaving, a troop of SD National guard were making their way in to attend a ceremony in the amphitheater that sits at the base of the monument.
We worried all the way back to the hotel about them getting drenched in the massive downpour that happened as we left. It was the kind that makes you think that pulling off the highway is a good idea. Which we and others did.
A lovely sunrise to begin the next day,
Our first stop was to be Wall Drugs, which I'd heard about from someone in the hotel elevator back in Montana. What pray tell is the attraction?
After seeing about thirty signs, one every mile or so for said Wall Drugs, we found out for ourselves. And although it is now a tourist attraction, we actually did some shopping for stuff like tooth paste and the like.
The story of this place is enough to make one believe in miracles! It goes on forever with some pretty crazy stuff, including this animatronic dinosaur that roars and shakes it's head.
There is more stuff than can be imagined; some of it is silly, while some of it is historical.
After purchasing some of their famous doughnuts for the road, we were off to the Badlands, a downright astonishing place that goes on and on and on. You exit the highway and pass through a large area of grassland called Buffalo Gap National Grassland; the name says it all. Suddenly, the earth seems to open up and it looks like this from a distance,
and this up close.
We were on the scenic loop and around every corner, well, there are barely any words to describe how you feel being amongst this strange landscape.
The formations are in peaks, rounded humps, and down into the ground. Isn't that sage in the foreground pretty?
From what I read, the colors in the rocks really stand out during sunrise and sunset, although even in the dim light of a cloudy morning, we could see the distinct bands of color. Here's what it is like to drive through it,
while this picture is taken at a little stop where there is both a restroom, hiking information, and the beginnings of various trails of different skill levels.
Finally, the sun peeked through the clouds.
Can you even imagine the early settlers coming across a place that looks like this? I can't. Here's all the info about the Badlands National Park, as well as the Black Hills, both places that we highly recommend visiting. I kept thinking about how awesome it would be to visit during a dark night when the stars would shine so brightly adding to the otherworldly experience.
Then, it was back on the highway, and a return to grassy fields too numerous to count.
Readers who are not merely skimming this will note the reflection of our atlas on my lap. Although we used our trusty iPad with GPS on occasion, there's nothing like having an atlas when you are on a big road trip. I marked an approximation of our route once we were home. I need to do the same in a different color for our route there, which took us through a few different states.
I'd also learned from another hotel guest that we should definitely stop in Merritt, SD to see the corn palace. What the heck is a corn palace?
You are looking at a corn palace on the left and not just any 'ol corn palace either.
Both of us marveled that birds did not peck away at all the dried corn, and other grains used to make the mural, of which you are only seeing one side. Too large for me to get it all in one photo! Naturally Bruce had some corn on the cob while we were there, although another tourist from Minnesota said it probably came from the grocery store because the corn this far North was not ready for picking, a sight which we became very familiar with on our next day. Stopping at a rest stop we got a preview of the massive fields of corn., seen on the left extending for what seemed like forever.
Friends, we had one of the best meals of the trip at this little place in Sioux City, SD.
They had me with the hanging bird, but it also was interesting that it has the same name as one of the best restaurants in Orlando, "K", this one being much more affordable!

A big day traveling through South Dakota which is full of surprises. There tourist tagline is "Great 8". We only saw a few of those but of the ones we saw we would totally agree that they were great!

Only a few more states to cover and the road trip will be over and the posts will become way shorter. Do I hear a sigh of relief?

your friend,

Gail



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