Friday, June 13, 2014

A Ride Around the Block in South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska

While fleeing from Decatur to Yankton, we passed a lot of area we had intended to check out if we'd had a normal driving day, and probably would have spent a night or two along the way doing that before getting to Yankton. So, we did a ride around the block to make up for it on Saturday, June 7th.

We left the campground around 9 o'clock and headed over the bridge to Yankton to pick up Rt 50 east. We drove out Rt 50 to CR-454 and drove south on it 7 miles to the river. We wanted to check out a takeout point on the Missouri, Myron Grove Landing, for a paddle we're planning for Wednesday the 11th, from the campground to there, about 22 miles. We'll run the car down the afternoon before, come back to the campground with the camper for the night and leave early the next morning. Some pics at the take out point:

From there we back tracked about a mile, then continued east on back roads to Vermillion. After finding some lunch-to-go, we drove up Rt 19 north to Spirit Mound, which is a pointy rise in the land that Lewis & Clark saw from the river, 9 miles away. The local natives told them that the place was inhabited by “little people” (or “Deavels”, “about 18 inches tall with large heads”, as L & C's describe them in their journal), who shot anyone with arrows if they trespassed on the sacred mound. L & C took 11 men and Seaman (Lewis's dog) and hiked the 9 miles northeast to the mound. It was a tough enough hike that they had to send Seaman back to the boat, being late August, very hot, and Seaman being a big, shaggy Newfoundland. The boat was being watched by 2 more troops of the expedition. They saw a lot of firsts from the top of the mound. Since this was their first trip away from the river since they'd entered the plains, they took in a view of the surrounding prairie, hundreds of buffalo, some badger or coyote dens, numerous species of birds, and found a lot of various kinds of ripe fruit back down on the plains around the mound.

They were thirsty when they left, so they made a 3 mile detour northeast to the Vermillion River, and followed it back to the Missouri, and back to their boat. A mere 25 miles as the crow flies, and half of that river miles, which can be a WAY longer and more difficult path, all in one day! I've said it to K many times since the St. Louis museum-they had to have been some very, very tough men and woman.

We, on the other hand, got there in 15 minutes-it was an exhausting drive! Had lunch and grabbed the girls and hiked the mile up to the top. It was a cool, cloudy day. We met a couple of women at the start, one of whom was a local South Dakotan. She gave us a bunch of tips on what to see and where to go on the rest of our drive north through South Dakota, when we told her what we were doing. A fun conversation with them. Great hike up there and back too!  

Spirit Mound

Spirit Mound

Up the back to the top

View from the top

View from the top

A "Deavel" we saw at the top!

From there we backtracked down Rt 19 straight south through town to Burbank road, and took that to Elk Point, a funky little place that was still thriving (so many small towns are not) and continued on into the big city (Sioux City) and the Sargent Floyd memorial. Sargent Floyd was the only expedition member to die on the trek, of what they think today was appendicitis. L & C expressed a lot of sorrow at his loss in their journals, as he sounded like, in their words, a great companion and very talented man. They buried him on a bluff overlooking, but back away from the Missouri. In all, he wound up being exhumed 4 times over the years, and now lies on a bluff above the river again, BUT with Interstate 29 right underneath him, poor fellow, in between him and the river. No restfulness there, for sure!

From there, we were trying to pick our way through the city and across the river and return home through Nebraska, but got waylaid by a road rage incident. We were following a Toyota Prius when a black, low-rider Honda with an obnoxious muffler roared past us, whipped in front of the Prius and jammed on his brakes-that was just the start-the driving got really rough with him flipping the Prius driver off, weaving in and out, jamming on his brakes, swearing out the window, so we dropped way back. K was driving and I got out the cell phone and fired it up, in case there was an accident. 

Just before our turnoff, we passed the Prius and saw it was a very young woman driving, so K pulled over behind some construction cones and stopped & we called 911-this guy clearly wasn't going to let it go. They eventually pulled into a Day's Inn motel parking lot, cross lots from us at a major intersection about a quarter mile away, so we were able to watch them. We stayed with 911 (at the dispatcher's request) until the cops showed up, which took about 20 minutes-we left when we saw the police car pull up behind them. By then, it appeared that they knew each other and the whole thing may have been a lovers quarrel, but it was clear this boy had a temper & she could have been in serious trouble.

Finally, we got into Nebraska, and retraced the route we had taken when we left Decatur. One thing we passed that night was this windmill museum on the south side of the road (one camera has both a shutter and a focus malfunction, so some pics are a little off):

We've seen hundreds of windmills in our travels, but none like most of these! Most of the rare ones were made of wood, and wouldn't still be standing without a lot of maintenance on the part of the rancher/farmer-time they don't have to spare for something like that, so we've only seen steel windmills still standing. Even a few of these, that were moving in the wind, needed maintenance from all the squeaks and squeals going on around us!

For any windmill nerds, Long Pants, here's a link to a short video:

We continued up Rt 12 as far as the turnoff for Wynot (love that name!)
After all, Why Not?

where we left pavement for the back roads, and followed them to St Helena and on back home. All in all, a great day!

Mad Cows-their in white coats!