2016 MEA # 10: Seen Along The Way

Here it is……the last of the Most Excellent Adventure posts…..the one that focuses on all the cool stuff we saw along the way! Americana at its best! We saw so much at our stops, but sometimes, the things we saw in between were the real gems! So…..these are photos of just odd things that caught my eye – the usual, the unusual, the quirky, and the quaint! I apologize for the quality of the photos in this post…..most were taken out the window of the motor home as it was rolling along the various interstates at 70+ mph (depending on the state’s speed limit at the time). Unfortunately, many of the cool things I photographed aren’t included because the photo was so blurry it was unrecognizable or I thought I got it, but by the time I clicked the button it was too late! LOL AND….I’m not going to even try to remember where I saw some of the stuff (although, I do remember some cause it was more obvious)…..just know that it was somewhere along the way in one of the 21 states we passed through!

Anyway – here are some examples of great American roadside art!

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Haven’t seen one of these in forever!!! There’s hope for Superman, afterall!

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Oil rigs…..I do remember this was one of many we saw in Kansas!

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A rainbow over a field of sugar cane…..in Louisiana…..guess I remember more than I thought!🙂

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Mr. Lincoln’s Hometown – Springfield, Illinois

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Aren’t they pretty???

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A Hobbit house in Wisconsin…..it is for sale!

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This was cool — it is a mobile pizza truck that sells wood fired pizza out of an old fire truck! Apparently, they take them to parties and on location at events!

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They have TWO…..and, they have job openings with getting to drive the truck (with sirens) as a perk!

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I’m watching you…..

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Corn is a friendly veggie!

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OK – I’ve seen cars towing motorcycles before, but…….

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Lots and lots and lots of endless farmland and cows……

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……and silos on steroids…..everywhere!!!

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Gigantic dinosaurs seemed to be a theme…..

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Some dinosaurs have been around longer than others…..love the skeleton walking him on a leash! hehehe

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…..and other giant critters….

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Critters are all that were gigantic…..check out this huge chess/checkers set!

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Hotdog, anyone?

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Another cool roadside scupture…..I missed getting the robbers on horseback that were in hot pursuit behind them!

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Capturing the wind

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The sign says “Have you fed a deer today?”

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Ho Chunk Cinema……really?

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This campground really wants you to drive slow!

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Wise words…..

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An underground house!

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A park ranger with a cooler

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Some farms weren’t as modern as others!

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There were some amazing sunsets and sunrises!

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I’ll leave you with this sign found at the exit to one of our campgrounds……good reminders!!!

I hope you enjoyed all the photos and antidotes from our Most Excellent Adventure!

2016 MEA # 9: Side Trip

I discovered that Pensacola, FL was just about a four and a half hour drive from Houma, LA. I had been to central and eastern Florida, but never the panhandle or Gulf Coast side. I also have a friend who lives in Pensacola. So, I decided to rent a car while we were in Louisiana so that I could go exploring on my own – including a three day side trip through Mississippi and Alabama to Pensacola.

It was a wonderful side trip! I booked two nights at the Pensacola Victorian Bed and Breakfast (a nice break from the motor home), explored Pensacola Beach and a scenic roadway along the Gulf of Mexico, toured the National Naval Aviation Museum, and made an impromptu stop in Mobile, Alabama for a fun tour. It was a great side trip and boosted my state count to 21…..the count as a group was 19.

Let’s see how this side trip went:

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Me at the Florida Welcome Center with a new friend!

Pensacola Victorian Bed and Breakfast

This was a quaint place – comfortable, nicely decorated, and a very good breakfast. I read that it is considered to be haunted! It is said that people have seen a woman in a white gown, heard children playing, and smelled breakfast being cooked long before time for anyone to be up cooking! I saw, heard, and smelled nothing out of the ordinary.🙂

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Food

I ate good while I was in Pensacola! Aside from the delicious breakfasts at the B&B, I ate at a little seafood shack on my first night, had a wonderful shrimp boil lunch on Pensacola Beach, and went to a fabulous Irish Pub with my friend Debbie and we had some amazing steaks!

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I saw crab claws on a number of menus while I was in the area. I got them as an appetizer at the little seafood shack my first night – wasn’t crazy about them.

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But, the shrimp dinner was very good!

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I had this incredible shrimp boil meal on Pensacola Beach at a place called “Crabs” with the tag line: “We Got Crabs”! LOL

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This was a wonderful salad that came with my steak at the Irish Pub – it had a delicious special house dressing!

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My ribeye was PERFECT!!! That yucky looking stuff on top was seasoned butter and it was VERY good!

Pensacola Beach

The beach was beautiful. I had to cross two large bridges to get to it and it was so worth it! The sand was so silky and as white as sugar! I spent a little time on the beach, had a delicious lunch, and drove along a scenic road that went along the Gulf Coast with water on both sides of the road much of the way!

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Per my friend, Debbie – The story behind the surfer: His name was Yancey Spencer. Well known nationally. Debbie worked temp at his brother’s church and came to meet all of his family. His daughter Abigail is an actress. Yancey died on the beach in California, just coming in from surfing, he called 911, then was on the phone with Abigail when he died. Then entire city mourned his loss. Surfing tournaments raised money for this memorial statue to him. Very sad.

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Finally – a restroom sign that got it right!

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This house was along the scenic drive…..there was another similar one, too!

The Pelicans

I was looking for pink flamingos, but never found any…..apparently, they tend to be further south! Boo Hoo! But, I did find a great hang out for PELICANS – LOTS of them!

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There were pelicans all over the place…..even not so real ones!🙂

Evening with my friend, Debbie

I met up with my friend, Debbie for dinner and then we took a stroll through their lovely Veterans Memorial Park – it was a wonderful evening!

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This is a replica of the Vietnam Memorial in DC with a helicopter behind it and memorial benches all along the walkway past it

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National Naval Aviation Museum

I went on the Pensacola Naval Base to visit the Pensacola Lighthouse and the National Naval Aviation Museum. I was short on time, so I only saw the ground floor of the museum, but what I saw was pretty amazing!

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Pensacola is also home of the Blue Angels……unfortunately, they were not practicing the day I was there, so I didn’t get to see them!😦

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Mobile, Alabama

As I was driving home, I spotted a sign for a Battleship Park in Mobile. I decided to make an unscheduled stop to just get a few pictures……almost three hours later, I was back on the road! When I got to the park, I saw one of those amphibian tour vehicles – you know, the kind that drive on the road and then right into the water for a cruise! I had never been on one and always wanted to, so……I did!!! And, it was so much fun! We drove around the park looking at the exhibits, then did a splash-down into the river to see the park from the water-view, then back on the road for a drive through downtown Mobile, and then back in the water for more fun! All in all, we did three splash-downs – what fun!!!

The guide and driver were a riot, too! They really made the trip a blast! When we were driving through downtown Mobile, they played the song “Sweet Caroline” and turned up the volume for the chorus so we could all sing along as loud as we could…..and, the best part……when we sang “Sweet Caroline…” and the music goes “wha, wha, wha”, we had to sing “quack, quack, quack” and some had loud duck call quackers to use! It was such fun…..and, there were people sitting at a sidewalk cafe when we went by singing and we stopped at a traffic light and did the chorus and the people at the cafe joined in with us!🙂

Just like New Orleans, Pensacola, and most places on the Gulf Coast, there were tons of bridges and highways over and along the water!

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The duck boat ahead of us splashing down

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Our splash down outside my window

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The duck boat ahead of us getting out of the water

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The city of Mobile

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Statue of a guy looking out over the water – I’m sure they told us who he was, but I don’t remember!

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I think this guy was one of the founders of Mobile…..not sure, though!

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They call this building the “Twin Robots”! LOL

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There is a rivalry between Mobile and New Orleans about exactly WHO started Mardi Gras! Mobile says that THEY were the beginning of it all because the person who did the first Carnival started the parade in Mobile and it went all the way to New Orleans, where it lasted several weeks and became the tradition. The people of New Orleans say that it was created by a Frenchman from New Orleans and it just happened that the parade began in Mobile…..but, it was their Carnival that started it all!

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The cool thing with Mobile is these fiberglass Oyster Shells around town – all painted with locally significant designs by local artists. There are TWELVE of them – because, well you order oysters by the dozen, of course – DUH! We didn’t drive by all 12, but here are the ones we did see.

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The main focus of Battleship Park was the retired battleship “Alabama”- served in WWII – nick named “Lucky A” because not one of her crew was lost in battle while she was commissioned

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A submarine – one of the first first responders at Pearl Harbor after the attack

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A major ship builder is located in Mobile – here is one of the ships they just finished building, but has not yet been commissioned to duty!

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Some veterans checking out the exhibits

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There will be one more MEA post – one with cool and kooky stuff I saw all along the road trip! Check back to see that one in a day or two!

2016 MEA # 8: Louisiana

Another major stop on our Most Excellent Adventure was Louisiana! My sister-in-law’s son and his family live in Houma, LA, so we spent about 10 days there, which gave us lots of time to spend with family and to explore! Three major items were checked off my Bucket List while we were in Louisiana – I visited New Orleans, I spent time in the French Quarter and Bourbon Street, and I took a ride on a steamboat on the Mississippi River….and did and saw everything that those things had to offer, as well as other things closer to Houma!

Houma is about an hour from New Orleans. I made the drive to The Big Easy on three days – once with the entire family, once to spend the day with a dear old friend who lives right outside New Orleans in Metairie, and once on my own. Each day was filled with wonderful adventures and amazing food! On the first day, we walked from downtown New Orleans and all along the main street through New Orleans to the dock where we got on the river boat cruise. On the second day, my friend and I wandered all around the French Quarter. Then, on the third day, I took a hop-on-hop-off bus tour that took me absolutely everywhere that New Orleans had to offer. So, between the three days, I don’t think I missed anything!

It was mid-September and it was HOT in Louisiana – everything we did involved walking in the heat. It rained off and on, but not enough to ruin our fun…..and it did little to ease the heat and just added to the humidity! But, I still enjoyed every minute of it……I loved the French Quarter and the history and the food and the music…..it was an amazing adventure that I am so glad I got to experience! I also made a two day side trip through Mississippi and Alabama to Pensacola, FL, but that will be my next post…..this one is devoted just to Louisiana!

Here we go:

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This is the family…..by now, you must recognize the right side of the table – Lylace, Donna, me, and Kevin! On the left side is Lylace’s grandson, Luke, his dad (Lylace’s son), Sean, his wife, Anna, and their daughter Lily. We were having lunch in New Orleans at a place called Huck Finn’s — OMG, DELICIOUS!!!

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I had the Jambalaya Wrap — it was soooooo good – just the right amount of heat!

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Later, after the river cruise, we stopped for Beignets…..hot, fresh, fluffy, sugary……heaven!!!

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The next day when I sent in to visit with my friend, Russ, we found a cool little place on Bourbon Street and had Shrimp Po-boys! The shrimp was perfectly cooked and crunchy with a nice little kick to it!

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Me and my friend, Russ……Russ and I went to school together and I always enjoy seeing him when he comes home to visit, but it was extra special to get to see him in New Orleans!

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On the day I was on my own in New Orleans, I stopped at a crepe cafe and had these wonderful crepes for lunch – they were called “The Lucy” and were stuffed with fresh strawberries and amaretto custard and topped with cinnamon and powdered sugar and more strawberries…..YUMMY!!!

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The family all went to a little place called Bayou Delight just outside Houma for dinner one night – it is set on a bayou and serves Cajun and Creole cuisine. They were recommended as a place with amazing fried chicken! So…..duh…..we had the fried chicken…..and it was incredible!!! Crispy, spicy breading and moist, tender, juicy chicken…..soooooooo good!!!

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This is Bayou Black – the bayou that ran behind the restaurant

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And just one of several alligators we saw swimming around……

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…..and sunning themselves on the decks!

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There was even this harmless one carved in the root of a tree……it gave me a start when I saw it out of the corner of my eye as we walked from the decking to the restaurant entrance!

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And, on to New Orleans and the French Quarter! I always think of New Orleans as being just the French Quarter – guess I never really thought about it being a big, modern city, as well……there is a lot more to New Orleans than just the French Quarter, but I didn’t spend much time touring the rest of the city.

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We had a wonderful time on the river cruise…..but, I won’t go into that – scroll down to the MEA post dedicated to the Mighty Mississippi River for photos of that adventure!

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What a motley crew……ready to board a steamboat for a ride on the Mississippi!

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There was music…..blues and jazz…..EVERYWHERE!!! LOVED IT!!!

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This little guy danced for spare change……sad to see a kid hustling, but he wasn’t the only one we saw!

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We were even lucky enough to get to see a little parade…..from the looks of the sign, I guess it was to celebrate the girl in the center’s birthday! I understand you have to get a permit to close off a street for a parade like this and it is usually reserved for weddings and funerals, but other celebrations occur on occasion…..so glad we got to see one!🙂

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There was music and dancing and umbrellas…..it was sooooo cool!!!

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Throughout the French Quarter, we found people who pose like statues with buckets for money in exchange for the photo op! They pose and just stay there still like a statue for hours!

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This one was my favorite!

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There were real statues EVERYWHERE – memorializing EVERYTHING!

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This is Joan of Arc

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St. Louis Cathedral with a huge statue of President Andrew Jackson

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A mass letting out at St. Louis Cathedral

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One thing I had ample opportunity to try, but just couldn’t make myself do it, was alligator meat! Everywhere we went, there was alligator of some kind on the menu…..right along side LOTS of variety of seafood and southern comfort food!

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I imagined alligator to be a tough, dry, chewy meat…….but, I’m told I should have tried it cause it is actually quite tender and delicious – tastes like chicken! I guess I’ll never know…..

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Mardi Gras beads can be found hanging from trees all over the city!

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So many bridges to get just about anywhere……this one crosses the Mississippi River……others cross other parts of the delta and inlets of the Gulf of Mexico

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One of the stops on the trolley tour I took was Mardi Gras World……they work year round to make floats and accessories for Mardi Gras – it was fascinating!

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Most people associate the phrase “Who Dat” with sports, but it actually got its start in New Orleans back in the traveling minstrel days. A comedian was being heckled and he looked out into the audience and said “Who dat think we stink?” and the heckler responded with “We do. That’s who dat think you stink.” and it became a running gag and many performers put plants in the audience to get the gag started.

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A particular thrill for me was to tour St. Louis Cemetery #1. This is the oldest and most famous of the currently existing cemeteries in New Orleans. It was established in the late 1700s and still has several burials a year. It is located on Basin Street in New Orleans and is 8 blocks from the Mississippi River and one block from the inland border of the French Quarter. It is the cemetery where famed Voodoo Priestess, Marie Laveau is interned in a family crypt. The cemetery used to be open to the public, but vandals – in particular damaging Marie Laveau’s resting place – caused the Arch Dioceses and the city of New Orleans to decide to require entrance only with a tour guide and the gates to be open for tours only during limited hours. Therefore, it is the only cemetery in New Orleans that has a tour fee ($20) and is accessible only via guided tours.

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Because the city is right at sea level, burials can not be underground – they must be in above ground crypts or mausoleums.

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Voodoo Priestess, Marie Laveau’s family crypt

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This one really stands out…..not the style of rest of the cemetery…..well, it is actually the future resting place of Nicholas Cage!!! He loved New Orleans so much that he bought a plot in this historic cemetery and built this crypt on it for himself. It still belongs to him, despite his recent bankruptcy woes, because the courts can not attach debt liens on burial plot real estate! There are rumors that he stashed treasures in it, but we were told that is not true – it is, in fact, empty and awaiting his future arrival!

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And, finally, this sculpture was done after Hurricane Katrina – it represents how the world viewed New Orleans after the hurricane devastated the city and was made with remnants from the disaster!

So…..that was Louisiana! Next up will be my side trip through Mississippi and Alabama to Pensacola, FL.

2016 MEA # 7: The Rest of South Dakota

As you can probably tell by the previous posts, a huge part of our Most Excellent Adventure was South Dakota. We were in the state a little over a week and spent five days just in the Rapid City area. So, we saw a LOT of stuff in that time. This post will rap up our time in SD and will focus on Custer State Park, the Crazy Horse Monument, Mount Rushmore, and Keystone.

Here we go:

Keystone is another old gold rush town that was built in a gulch. Now, it is mostly touristy shops, but we stopped to have lunch there and spent some time shopping and hanging out.

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Kevin, Lylace, and Donna leaving the Keystone Mercantile with their goodies!

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Custer State Park was amazing! We spent a couple hours at the end of one day exploring a little and then went back and spent the better part of a whole day just driving through it and enjoying the beauty and the wildlife!

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On our full day there, we ran into this classic car club just about everywhere we stopped – sometimes we were following them and sometimes they were following us! This is just a few of the cars that traveled around together throughout the day.🙂

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We went through lots and lots of tunnels etched out in the mountains!

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This tunnel was EXTRA special……look through to the edge of the top of the tunnel — you get a beautiful view of Mount Rushmore (which is a few miles away) as you drive through it — what a wonderful surprise!!!

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WOW — beautifully framed by the tunnel and the trees!!!

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Then, a ways after the tunnel, there was a scenic overlook with a perfect view of Mount Rushmore – I believe I remember it saying the monument was about 15 miles away from where we were at Custer Park – maybe a tad less. Honestly, I enjoyed seeing it from this vantage point – the tunnel and this overlook – better than up close when we got there later in the day! It was so pretty off in the distance with the trees all around it. Just stunning!

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Kevin, Donna, and Lylace checking out the info panels at the overlook

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Another fascinating feature in the park were the Pigtail Bridges. Considered an engineering marvel of their day, these bridges circle around to allow the road to ease up the elevation of the park — much like a spiral staircase! I couldn’t get a good photo that shows how they wind around, but these pics give some idea! They are made of large log timbers and are simply beautiful!

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The road passed under a bridge, then winds around to go over it, then under another and winds around to pass over the next, and so on!

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I did a separate post on the wildlife I saw throughout our MEA, including what we saw roaming free in Custer State Park, but I’ll touch on it again, here…..cause it was so cool! Here are a herd of Bison grazing in the field as we drove by!

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The Wild Donkeys were a personal favorite! Loved them! So cute…..and they came right up to the car windows to say “Hi” and beg for treats!

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Of course, there were hundreds of Prairie Dogs……they absolutely fascinated us!

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Wild Turkeys roamed all over the place, too….with no apparent fear of Thanksgiving coming soon! Gobble Gobble!

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You’ll have to take my word for it, but this is definitely a Bald Eagle…..I saw it perched on a tree, but by the time I got my camera up to shoot, it flew off!

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Not sure what this monument is for, but there are also crosses in the distance, so I assume it is in recognition of some holy grounds of some kind.

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We stopped for gas and I just couldn’t resist taking this shot!

After we left Custer State Park and The Needles (which is a section of the park and the subject of a previous post), we went on to the Crazy Horse Monument. This is a monument to Crazy Horse, an Oglala Lakota warrior depicted riding on a horse and pointing off into the distance. It is still under construction and is located on private land between Custer and Hill City, SD about 17 miles from Mount Rushmore. It is being carved out of Thunderhead Mountain – considered sacred land by some Oglala Lakota. It began construction in 1948. When completed, it is projected to be the world’s largest sculpture – the head of Crazy Horse will be 87 feet tall, compared to the 60 feet high heads on Mount Rushmore.

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There were some other very beautiful sculptures at the Visitor’s Center, as well.

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This is the sculpture that the monument is based on – sculpted by artist Korczak Ziolkowski and commissioned by Henry Standing Bear, a Lakota elder.

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This is a scale model of the sculpture positioned in front of the one in progress to show what it will look like when finished.

Then, it was on to Mount Rushmore……

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Couldn’t resist helping old George with a pesky booger!

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There you have it……South Dakota! Next up, will be our time spent in a MUCH warmer southern state we visited…..Louisiana!

2016 MEA # 6: Deadwood, SD

One of our day trips during our stay in the Rapid City area in South Dakota was the historic town of Deadwood. Originally named Deadwood Gulch, because of the dead trees found in the gulch, Deadwood was known as a “boom town” in 1876 during the Black Hills gold rush era. Thanks to “Colorado” Charley Utter, businesses began to pop up along the street that ran through the gulch – mostly saloons and brothels popular with the men that came to town in hopes of striking it rich with gold found in the Black Hills. Deadwood became even more famous as the town where Wild Bill Hickok was murdered by Jack McCall on August 2, 1876. Wild Bill was buried in Mount Moriah Cemetery overlooking the town of Deadwood. Later, per her last wishes – “Bury me beside Wild Bill”, Calamity Jane was buried beside him. The story goes that Calamity Jane was in love with Wild Bill – her account was that she married him, but divorced him so he could marry Agnes Lake, but there is no record of that ever happening. Friends of Wild Bill recounted that he took her under his wing, like a father figure, and there was no romantic attraction – although, she followed him around like a puppy dog pining for him. It was noted that Wild Bill dearly loved his wife, Agnes, and only came to Deadwood at the invitation of his friend, “Colorado” Charley Utter, who enticed him with the money that could be made there.

Wild Bill’s murderer, Jack McCall, was an unlucky gambler who claimed Wild Bill had killed his brother. He shot him from behind in the back of the head while Wild Bill was playing cards – his final hand – black aces and eights – became known as the “Dead Man’s Hand”. McCall was tried by an informal jury of miners and acquitted because of his defense of avenging his brother’s murder. After much scrutiny, McCall was rearrested and retried – this was not considered double jeopardy because the original trial was not recognized as a legal proceedings. In the second trial, McCall was found guilty and sentenced to be hanged.

Here are some of my photos from Deadwood, SD and Mt. Moriah Cemetery:

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Kevin and me…..we just HAD to get this photo….even though, I told everyone NO photos of my from behind!!! LOL

I was too short to get up on the stool, so I ended up with a rather “high” butt and you can see my legs, but it still cracks me up!!!

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The town of Deadwood is in a gulch – whatever direction you look, you see the hills right behind the buildings!

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The Steakhouse Saloon is located in the oldest building still in existence in Deadwood.

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Saloon # 10….we stopped in here for lunch and discovered they do a reenactment of Wild Bill’s murder, so we stayed for the show! It is not the actual saloon he was murdered in, but since that particular building is no longer standing, they do it here!

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Our lunch waitress

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The actual chair that Wild Bill was shot in

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Kevin and Ace caught “Wild Bill” outside having a cigarette prior to his unfortunate demise!

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Me with “Colorado Charley Utter”

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Me with “Wild Bill Hickok” before his demise

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“Colorado Charley Utter” – now the actual mayor of Deadwood – telling a bit of history before the reenactment began

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“Wild Bill Hickok” telling the wild stories of his life prior to coming to Deadwood and his death

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Members of the audience played the bartender (lady with the had in the back by “Wild Bill”) and the other poker players at Wild Bill’s table

In this photo, Wild Bill has a drink before he sits down at the table

The story goes that Wild Bill NEVER sat with his back to a door. He asked one of the players multiple times to move so he could have a seat where he could see both the front and rear door of the saloon. The man refused, so, reluctantly, Wild Bill sat in a chair with his back to the read entrance to the saloon.

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Jack McCall came in the front entrance and started to raise a ruckus. Wild Bill did not recognize him, so got up and pulled a gun on him. He decided he was harmless and let him go. McCall left the saloon……

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….only to return through the back entrance door….

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…..and shoot Wild Bill in the back of the head point blank! He was killed instantly – the bullet went through his skull and out his cheek to hit one of the other players in the wrist.

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McCall made sure he was dead and ran out the back door!

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The other poker players got up and chased him.

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While the bartender checked to see that he was dead and then grabbed up all the money on the table and ran off with it!

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Wild Bill…..dead by gun shot from assailant Jack McCall on August 2, 1876!

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“Wild Bill” taking a bow

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LOOK OUT, BILL……HERE HE COMES AGAIN!!! LOL

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Mount Moriah Cemetery sits high above the town of Deadwood

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Most notably, Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane are buried side by side (much, from all that is told, to the probably chagrin of Wild Bill and his wife, Agnes)

Kevin by the historic markers for their graves (which are located on the hill behind him)

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Wild Bill Hickok’s memorial

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Wild Bill’s grave in the foreground and Calamity Jane’s beside his

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Lylace and her sister, Donna, having a peaceful conversation in the cemetery

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The highest point in the cemetery – an overlook of scenic Deadwood, SD

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Kevin and me at the overlook

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2016 MEA # 5: Mini Adventures

Of course, our Most Excellent Adventure was one HUGE adventure in itself and the major adventures within the MEA were our week long stay in South Dakota (even more to share from there in future posts) and our ten day stay in Louisiana (just wait till I get to the posts for that part), but we also had lots of mini-adventures along the way. I thought I would touch on those in today’s post.

Mini-Adventures are cool places we stopped for anything from a quick photo op to a few hours to check it out in more detail. Some were planned – the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH, the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD, Wall Drug in Wall, SD, for instance……and some were places that caught our eye and we thought “why not” – a Missouri River overlook, downtown Sioux Falls, SD, the Mystery Spot in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and more fun stuff. We didn’t limit ourselves to a strict plan and timeline – other than a few things we had to plan around so the overall trip worked. We just set out to have fun and see and do all we could see and do! Here are some memories we made with mini-adventures along the way:

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Our starting selfie — Lylace, me, and Kevin in my driveway just before we headed out!

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Lylace and Kahlua “on the road”

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Me – watching the world go by

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I even drove a few times……

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…..and, the whole gang got on the way in Tunnel City, Wisconsin when we picked up Lylace’s sister, Donna

ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME – CLEVELAND, OH

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Yeah – I know, the guitar is upside down – I’m just that good!!! hehehe

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Me with Jane Scott – Cleveland’s pioneering rock and roll journalist for over 40 years

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Kevin with the ZZ Top car

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This room had blown up photos of the original handwritten lyrics from all kinds of wonderful classics and a brief synopsis of where they were written and what they were written on

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In addition to room after room on multiple floors of memorabilia and sculptures and photos, there were major displays that came from actual concerts……like this display from Pink Floyd’s The Wall

MICHIGAN’S UPPER PENINSULA

We took the long way around Chicago to avoid the city and get to Wisconsin to pick up Donna. We drove up through Michigan and crossed the Mackinac Bridge to the Upper Peninsula. The objective, aside from avoiding Chicago – we could have done that without going so far out of the way – was to see the point where two Great Lakes meet – Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. But, we discovered so much more!

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Mackinac Bridge – beautiful!!!

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Lake Huron is to the right and Lake Michigan is to the left

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The Mystery Spot, St. Ignace, MI – apparently, there is some kind of gravitational pull right here that makes everything out of whack and seem unlevel, even though it is perfectly level!

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These people are standing straight up, but they appear to be leaning…..and it feels so strange – just like you ARE leaning! The floor is level, but it was soooooooo hard to walk across it – felt like we were walking uphill with resistance!

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It felt perfectly normal to stand on this slanted board…..and the girl beside me easily sat on a 2×4 nailed to the wall!

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And, to prove that it wasn’t just smoke and mirrors to make you think things were “off” just because the walls appeared to be built on a slant…..the bubble on this level was dead center on this slanted ramp and the ball didn’t roll at all…..and it wasn’t stuck there with anything – she sat it down there and it stayed!!!

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And, I had a famous Pastie – a meat pie that the UP is known for — it was OK – tasty, but not something I would likely ever eat again

CRANBERRY BOGS IN WARRENS, WI

Warrens, WI is the cranberry capital – producing more cranberries than any other state in the USA….in fact, according to their Cranberry Discovery Center, “Wisconsin cranberry growers annually harvest enough cranberries to supply every man, woman and child in the world with approximately 26 cranberries.” That’s a lot of cranberries!!! Most people that I talked to about seeing cranberry bogs in Wisconsin were surprised – they all thought that the New England states was the place to find cranberry bogs……maybe so, but not as plentiful as in Wisconsin, where about 70% of the nations cranberries are harvested in the fall each year!

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Kevin and Ace at the Cranberry Discovery Center

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Lylace checking out some of the displays

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Kevin checking out some antique cranberry harvesting equipment

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Me at an actual cranberry bog – the cranberries were getting close to harvest time – typically during the month of October

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A close up of the cranberry plants

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The cranberry plants are planted in these square areas of sand to grow until they are ready to harvest – then, the bogs are flooded, the cranberry bushes are racked, the cranberries float to the surface of the water, and they are skimmed from the top of the water to gather them up! We hoped to see some harvesting going on when we returned to drop Donna off back home, but no such luck! All the farmers were starting to harvest, but the day we were there, some were done and some were about to start, but none were actively harvesting so we could see!!! boo hoo!!!

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Bogs have big ponds adjacent to the bog with a ditch all around the bog (see along the right side of the photo) – the trenches are flooded so that the water will gravitate into the bogs without harming the plants (no direct water pressure into the bogs). It was all very interesting to learn about!

THE HIGH GROUND VETERANS MEMORIAL PARK, NEILLSVILLE, WISCONSIN

We visited an incredible veterans memorial park in Wisconsin. I may do a separate post to include all the memorial sculptures because it is by far the most impressive memorial park I think I’ve ever been to.

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The most emotional sculpture for me was “Fountain of Tears” – it shows a soldier in the background and a fountain that trickles water down to a woman and child representing those who are left behind when someone in the service pays the ultimate sacrifice……just amazing – I can’t look at the photo without feeling just as overwhelmed as I did when I saw it in person!

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In addition to MANY wonderful sculptures honoring the veterans of each and every war, there are brick walkways with names of veterans from Wisconsin.

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Lylace and her sister, Donna, have stones in memory of both their parents, some uncles, and Donna’s husband – here they are pictured looking at the stone for Donna’s husband

MISSOURI RIVER, NEAR LYMAN, SD

I did a post about seeing and really experiencing the Mississippi River…..well, we also saw the Missouri River! We stopped at a rest stop and there was a scenic overlook – we checked it out and discovered it was the Missouri River! The scene was breathtaking……

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LAKE SUPERIOR, WISCONSIN / MINNESOTA BORDER

Going over this bridge from Wisconsin to Minnesota, we rounded out my Bucket List item to physically see all five great lakes – the last to see was Lake Superior! Here it is!

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SIOUX FALLS, SD – SCULPTURE WALK

Downtown Sioux Falls, SD has a wonderful attraction — as you walk along all the downtown streets, there are incredible sculptures made by local artists. We heard about this, so stopped for a walk when we passed through Sioux Falls.

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Kevin, Lylace, and Donna walking past one of the many sculptures

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My favorite – the Maestro……he is wearing shorts with a top coat and tails and hiking boots, with his socks all slid down! There is a xylophone in front of him that people can play to make it an interactive sculpture!

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Another one I particularly liked……although, other than the Maestro, I’d be hard pressed to pick a second favorite – there were so many wonderful one!

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Everything from ones like this one that commemorate the history of Sioux Falls……

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…..to more abstract ones that we struggled to find the point of…..the looks on Kevin, Lylace, and Donna’s faces say it all! LOL

CORN PALACE, MITCHELL, SD

We had to stop at the famous Corn Palace — the facade and much of the interior is decorated with corn – husks, stalks, cobs, corn nuggets, etc……and the theme is changed every year. This year, the theme is Rock of Ages!

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I picked up this corn husk angel for my angel collection – so pretty!

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Across the street was a castle-look building – I think it was a museum of some kind – we didn’t go in, but I couldn’t resist taking photos of the artwork outside!

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An Indian and a Knight outside a religious themed gift shop – logical combo! The t-shirt that the Knight is holding says “Jesus Loves You, But I’m His Favorite” – I went in and bought one in pink!!! Had to have it!!! LOL

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Lylace and I found a friend!

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I found this Rotary Park on the way back to the car……couldn’t pass up the photo op!

WALL DRUG, WALL, SD

We were told we could NOT go to South Dakota without stopping at the famous Wall Drug Store! So, we did!

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This place was HUGE……it took up most of the block and had room after room after room of stuff…..all kinds of stuff……souvenirs, gifts, typical drug store items, oddities, clothes, boots, you name it – they had it!

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I was driving the motor home when we got here – I had to turn the corner onto the narrow street between cars parked along the store fronts and cars parked in the center of the street (see where that white truck is?)……well, I freaked out, but had no choice……just as I got into the turn, Kevin – who was in the back watching out the window – shouted “STOP!” – I cut it a little too close to a car parked in the first spot — I made it without incident, but Kevin said you couldn’t have gotten a piece of paper between us and the car and the lady who was standing next to her car looked like she was about to have a heart attack!!! I later chalked it up to skillful driving rather than simply blind luck……hehehe!!!

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The store is famous for their “free ice water” – apparently, that was the original purpose – to give out free water to dusty travelers in the gold rush days! But, we actually paid for our refreshments – ice cream at the soda counter!

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Me with my new pal, Calamity Jane

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KEVIN!!! Shame on you!!! Get away from that dance hall girl!!!🙂

LAMBERT’S CAFE, SIKESTON, MISSOURI

We stopped for lunch at a place called Lambert’s Cafe on the advice of one of the guys working at the campground we stayed at in Arkansas. What fun that was! The sign said “Home of the Throwed Rolls”……what is a “throwed roll”, we wondered!!!??? Well, we soon found out! Lambert’s is a huge place very similar in look and food to Cracker Barrels – wide open, rustic, lots and lots of stuff on the walls, serves American comfort food…..that kind of a place. But, it is unique in two ways…….1) the wait staff continuously walks around with huge pots and stainless steel bowls full of “extras” they call “pass arounds” – black eyed peas, macaroni and tomatoes, fried potatoes and onions, fried okra – that they scoop out onto your plate with humongous spoons! and 2) they THROW their delicious hot fluffy rolls around the room…..yep – there is a guy who walks around with a big cart full of rolls and yells “hot rolls” and people just raise their hands to catch them and he throws them…..sometimes just a few feet, sometimes all the way across the room…..and he NEVER missed his target!!! It was so cool to watch!!!

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A waitress with a pot of black eyed peas……I didn’t get any of the “pass arounds” cause the meal I ordered was so huge I couldn’t eat it all, but it wasn’t cause it wasn’t offered! You could order just “pass arounds”, too, and you could have all you could eat of any or all of them!

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The roll pitcher……he threw this one across to the opposite back corner of the room! WOW!!!

FRIENDS ALONG THE WAY

We got to see several friends along the way, too……one stop was specifically to visit with a dear old friend of Donna’s, another of Lylace’s family friends lived near where we stayed in Rapid City, SD and came to see us while we were there, I got to see two special high school friends while I was in Louisiana and Pensacola, FL

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Donna and Lylace with dear friends Don and his son Arvid in Watertown, SD

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Chatting with Don and Arvid

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Donna and Lylace’s friend Charlie and his wife in Rapid City, SD

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Me with my old friend, Russ in New Orleans, LA

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Me with my old friend, Debbie, in Pensacola, FL

SITTING AROUND THE CAMPFIRE

You can’t go camping without enjoying a good campfire with friends, marshmallows, and smores……I somehow lived to be almost 60 years old and never ate a smore……so, that was a specific activity I planned to remedy! One night in Rapid City, SD, we had Donna and Lylace’s friend Charlie and his wife over and we built a fire in the pit……we talked and laughed and had a wonderful evening……and roasted marshmallows…..and made smores! So, I can say that I DID experience making and eating smores by the campfire BEFORE I turned 60 years old (barely, but let’s not split hairs)!!!🙂 I can honestly say that I wasn’t missing much……don’t see the appeal – they were OK, but definitely not something I will ever want to do again! LOL

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I think that covers the mini-adventures…….still lots more to post about from South Dakota, Louisiana, and Florida……and, I also want to put together a post with all the cool stuff we saw on the road side all across the trip! So, keep coming back to check for more MEA posts!🙂

2016 MEA # 4: The Badlands South Dakota

The next location specific post from our Most Excellent Adventure focuses on the Badlands, located in Interior, South Dakota. Talk about stunning scenery and emotional views…..you can’t get through the Badlands without dropping your jaw and holding your breath for a good portion of it! We spent several hours driving through the park, stopping at just about every overlook we came to, and searching for wildlife (of which we found a lot of)! It was a great day, for sure!

I wondered why it is called the BADlands when it is so breathtakingly beautiful. In my search for an answer, I came across this on the Badlands National Park web site:

The Lakota people were the first to call this place “mako sica” or “land bad.” Extreme temperatures, lack of water, and the exposed rugged terrain led to this name. In the early 1900’s, French-Canadian fur trappers called it “les mauvais terres pour traverse,” or “bad lands to travel through.” Today, the term badlands has a more geologic definition. Badlands form when soft sedimentary rock is extensively eroded in a dry climate. The park’s typical scenery of sharp spires, gullies, and ridges is a premier example of badlands topography.

The website also says that it takes a good two days to see most of what the 244,000 acre park has to offer and it takes about two hours to just drive through it and stop at a couple overlooks. We spent much of our day there — driving through the bulk of the park and driving the Sage Creek Rim Road (The Badlands Wilderness Area) where most of the wildlife can be found.

So, without further ado……here are photos of our day in the Badlands National Park, Interior, South Dakota:

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My brother……a little closer to the edge than I cared to see him go……

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My sister-in-law and I being silly

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Hi, Kevin……I’ll just zoom in and get your photo from here, thank you!

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One of my absolute favorite photos of the entire trip! I turned around and saw Kevin and Lylace in a moment and quickly captured it!

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Your’s truly…….I bit the bullet and got as close to the edge as I dared – just long enough for a photo!

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Lylace and her sister, Donna

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Kevin…..again…..seriously???

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Lylace getting a photo of some mini sunflowers

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This was a spot where you could actually explore and dig for fossils and stuff – if you find something, they put your name in a book with what you discovered!

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This is hard to see, but there are literally hundreds of prairie dogs in this field — they were so cute! They played and ran around and watched us and “chattered” with each other……we could have watched them for hours and not got the least bit bored!

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This herd of pronghorn stopped traffic for a good 10-15 minutes while they meandered across the road! It is a strict violation of the park rules to toot or otherwise try to convince any wildlife to move out of your way — this is THEIR home and you just have to wait for them!🙂

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Bison…..with the rest of his herd off in the distance
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And, it wasn’t ALL “bad”……here is a huge field of sunflowers, just past their peak time

In fact, throughout South Dakota we saw LOTS of fields of sunflowers as far as the eye could see…….thinking sunflower seeds and other sunflower byproducts may be a common agricultural resource for the state!