Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Fun in the Midwest

Today we are at Spencer Lake, the cabin/home of cruise friends, David & Diane Wilson.  It is in the woods not far from Frederic, Wisconsin.  It has been great seeing them again, and it is peaceful here. 
There is a little down time this afternoon so I will catch you up on our travels.
     After leaving Denver, we drove to Rapid City, SD.  There is a nice Cabela's store there, and we stayed overnight in their RV area.  This is the statue that was in front of the store:
There are lots of buffalo in the Black Hills area, especially near Custer, and we saw some herds of them on our drive to Rapid City. 
     The highlight of visiting the Rapid City area was having good social times with RV friends, Jan & Chuck Moore, and Betty Anderson and Duane Peyton.  They have memberships in an RV resort called Hart Ranch.  Betty & Duane arranged for us to stay there, and it was a real treat because it is such a nice place.  Jan & Chuck had us all over for dinner the first night we were there; the main course was delicious salmon which they had caught in Alaska.  And Chuck served some delicious sourdough bread he made himself in a cast iron skillet.  The next evening we all drove to Center Lake, in Custer State Park, and had a picnic:
Right nearby was the Black Hills Playhouse:
After the picnic we went to this theater to see "Spamalot".  They had a great cast and the play was hilarious.
     Another day we went to downtown Rapid City because they were having a music event in the streets.  Walking around that area is fun because they call it the city of presidents, and they have statues of all the presidents on the street corners:
This one is Harry Truman, holding up the newspaper which prematurely announced that Dewey had won the election.
     They also have some statues honoring the native Americans, since there are many of them in this area:
There is also a downtown square, where there is a stage, for performances, as well as water fountains that shoot up so kids were running in them to get cool:
The evening we went in for the music event, we stopped first at Memorial Park and had another picnic:
In this picture, we have been joined by Betty's friends Margy and Don.
     All too soon, our 4 days there was up and we had to leave.  Since we were heading east on I90, of course we had to stop at Wall Drug.  You see all their signs for at least 100 miles on each side of town. 
It used to be just one store, but now they have expanded and have several snack bars and restaurants, lots of stores selling western goods, clothes, tourist kitsch, displays of old pictures from their colorful past, animated dinosaurs, stuffed animals, etc.  Here I am on a jackalope statue in their "backyard":

They have also acquired many parking lots, and we spent a very quiet and restful night parked on the edge of one of them on a back street.  Then we continued on to Mitchell, SD where there was another very nice Cabela's store.  This town is famous, of course, for the Corn Palace:
In 1892, Mitchell built the first one as a way to attract attention and people to their town.  The current building is the 3rd one, and is really a large venue for the community.  There is a basketball court used by the local high school and college, and also a big stage where performances are given.  On the outside there are quite a few big murals made in various shades of corn, with a frame of rye and dock around them. 
On the inside, there is a whole series of murals in corn depicting the relationship between the settlers and the native Americans.  They also have lots of stalls selling tourist goods in order to make money to keep the corn palace functioning.

We saw a video about the history of the Corn Palace, and had a short guided tour of the interior.  Entry is free, and we were happy that we took the time to drive there to see it.
     Back at Cabela's, we went into the store and it had the usual displays of animals, which are awesome.
 We then drove to Wisconsin, to see David & Diane.  David was home alone with the dogs, while Diane was at a family shower in Ohio.  They have added on to their cabin since the last time we were here in 2009.  It looks awesome!   Here is the outside:
The lake is behind this view of the cabin.  The main reason Diane wanted to renovate the cabin was to get a new kitchen, and here it is:
We had a very nice visit with David when we first arrived, and then fixed dinner.
Today David took us to his tree farm.  He bought land nearby and it was grazing land, so he planted over 15,000 trees on it to restore it to forest land.  Here is the sign the government gave him for being the best natural tree farm last year:
This is a picture from the front of the tree farm - most of the trees are small and are in the background:
We picked raspberries here today too:
Then we went over to the neighbor's place and got some fresh rhubarb to make a crisp for dessert tomorrow:
Today Diane returned from the shower and brought their granddaughter, Sarah, with her.  We all had a delicious dinner together:
After this visit is over, in a day or two, we will be heading south in order to have some visits with Elaine;s family.  The 100 year anniversary of the Cannell family farm is on August 9, but we plan to be there early.

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