South Dakota Here We Come!

We left Springfield, MO, on May 16th and headed north to South Dakota (a day earlier than planned because of expected high winds and bad weather; when traveling in an RV, you must consider the winds and weather before you start out!).

We planned an overnight stop in the St. Joseph, MO, area. We had reservations at one place, but that didn’t work out. Fortunately we found another place that could take us. We stayed two nights (remember, we left one day early). It rained nearly the whole time we were in St. Joseph.

We knew there had been flooding in the very northwest corner of Missouri and along the western border of Iowa for several weeks. They had parts of the interstate closed a week earlier. The day before we left St. Joe, a trucker told Jack we shouldn’t have any problem now; they had opened Interstate 29 all the way to Sioux Falls, SD.

What we didn’t realize was exactly how bad the flooding had been for the previous two weeks. The further north we got, the more we saw how high the water had gotten in spots. We had already passed some of the worst of it by the time I decided I needed to take some pictures. As you can see, the water was still very close to the interstate in some of the pictures.

Needless to say, that exit ramp and all the ramps at this exit were closed.

As we got closer to the South Dakota border, the flooding didn’t seem as bad. At Sioux Falls we headed west on Interstate 90. Our next camp ground was right off the interstate at exit 364 about 35 miles west of Sioux Falls. It used to be called Camp America, but it is now called Dakota Sunset RV Park.

Dakota Sunset is a nice campground pretty much out in the middle of nowhere. There are plenty of trees that provide shade and a swimming pool that I’m sure will open up by June 1st. The sites are gravel, and they are nice and level.

Our only problem was the amount of rain that area had been getting all spring. The ground was already saturated from the thawing snow. The spring rains just made it worse. Driving along the interstate we could see numerous low areas in the farm fields that were covered in water.

The first two days we were at Dakota Sunset RV Park, it rained nearly all day both days. Monday I went to the store to stock up on groceries. That afternoon we stayed at the RV and worked on the rest of our summer trip making reservations for the portion of our trip back to Missouri in September.

Tuesday was supposed to be rainy all day (again! 😑), but they were also calling for winds up to 40 mph with gusts up to 50 mph. We decided we would be wise to just stay home again. We were kind of lazy that morning. However, we played cards nearly all afternoon. If you have ever played the game Three Thirteen, you know it’s quite fun when played with three or more people. Since there was just the two of us, we “made up” two more players, and we each played our cards and another “made up” player’s cards. It was a little confusing at first, but it was a lot of fun!

Wednesday finally came and it was not raining! Yipeee! 😆 It was cloudy but weather reports had the chance of rain down to 30% or less.

We decided to take a drive over to Mitchell, SD. It is about 30 miles west of our RV park. Friends had told us about The Corn Palace there. We packed up our little shih tzu and headed west.

We had no idea what to expect. The only thing we knew about The Corn Palace was that it was decorated with many varieties of corn cobs, grasses, and other plants.

When we arrived, we were shocked for three reasons. 1.) The structure and the designs on the outside were phenomenal (the pictures will not do it justice)! 2.) The building was actually an event center and had a basketball court set up. 3.) They were “dog friendly” and admission was FREE (we could take our Zoey in)!

Inside we found murals and historical background of the area and the building. We discovered that the Palace was redecorated every year! One wall had pictures of the way The Corn Palace looked each year from its humble beginning as a Corn Exhibition in 1892. YES, the year is correct!That is NOT a typo!

Here are a few pictures (the picture with the year plaque is followed by the picture of The Corn Palace for that year):

This was the first year for lights.

If you are ever near Mitchell, SD, you might want to stop at The Corn Palace.

So, for now ….. “On the Road Again!”

Betty

Springfield, Missouri: Part 2

While we were still visiting with family in Springfield, we decided to stay a couple of extra days, so we cancelled our RV reservation for Carthage, MO. The whole purpose of staying in Carthage was to be able to drive over to the Independence, Kansas, area where the Ingalls family lived for a short while. I decided I could just drive from Springfield because it only added about an hour or less to the drive. I would be gone most of the day. Jack borrowed one of his brother’s (Carl) cars, so he wouldn’t be stuck at the RV all day.

This past Wednesday we left the RV around 8:00 a.m. and I dropped Jack at his brother’s house. Then I headed west towards Independence, KS. It was a gorgeous day with full sunshine, deep blue skies, and a few white, billowy clouds. I drove to the Missouri/Kansas/Oklahoma state line on I 44 and then picked up Kansas State Hwy. 166. Even though it was a two lane road (nice, wide lanes with good, wide shoulders), it was an easy drive.

The land was either flat or gently rolling hills. I thoroughly enjoyed the drive. Before I knew it, I was turning on the last couple of county roads completing the last few miles to the official Kansas home of the Charles Ingalls family. They lived about twelve miles southwest of Independence, KS, from 1869 to 1871. Mary, the oldest daughter, was five years old and Laura was three years old when they moved here. Carrie Ingalls, their third daughter, was born here.

The area in which the Ingalls family settled was Indian country. “Pa” (as Laura called her father in her books) had been told that the location would soon be open to white settlers. However, when they arrived this was not the case. It was discovered that their homestead was on the Osage Indian reservation, and they had no legal right to the land. They had just begun to farm when they heard rumors that the settlers would be evicted. They left preemptively in the spring of 1871. Those rumors may have prompted the Ingalls to leave. However, Laura’s parents needed to recover their Pepin, Wisconsin, land because the buyer had not paid the mortgage. Therefore, they left and headed back to Wisconsin.

On this site in Kansas is a recreation of the one room cabin in which the Ingalls family lived. This cabin was reconstructed by Laura’s vivid descriptions in her Little House On the Prairie book. The well on the site was dug by hand by Charles Ingalls with some help from his neighbor, Mr. Scott. The was instrumental in helping historian Margaret Clements discover the side of the Ingalls family homestead in 1969 on what was then the Horton farm.

Also on the site is the Wayside Post Office constructed in 1885. The Ingalls family had moved by then, however, William Kurtis moved it here in 1977 to save it from destruction and preserve it for the education of future generations. The Sunnyside Schoolhouse was built in 1871 about four miles from the Ingalls homestead, however the Ingalls children were too young at the time to have attended during their time in Kansas. Again, Mr. Kurtis moved the structure to this site in 1977 to preserve the building. It was their hope that children of future generations would be able to experience what school would have been like back in the late 1800s.

I hope you enjoy the pictures. Please read the information on the pics of signs. They explain further about some of the structures.

This farmhouse was built in 1880. The next photo is a close up of the sign in this photo. It has some interesting information on it. You probably will have to zoom in on the next photo, though.

This log cabin is a recreation of the Ingalls’ cabin.

Another photo of the old farmhouse. The farmhouse is where the museum and store are located.

This census page was found in the county courthouse. If you zoom in to the bottom left corner, you will see on the last four lines the names of the Ingalls family. If you have trouble, just look at the next two photos.

There is a restroom behind the farmhouse, and also some picnic tables behind the hand dug well. It’s a great place for a family picnic!

This is one of the smaller Laura Ingalls Wilder home sites. It doesn’t really take a long time to go through everything. That is, unless you are like me and like to read every word on every sign and every description with any artifacts. It probably took me a little over an hour to go through everything.

As I left and walked to my car, I noticed how quite it was out on that prairie. I could just imagine Laura and Mary running through the tall prairie grass playing. I got in my car with a smile on my face and headed back to Springfield.

So, for now ….. ” On the Road Again!”

Betty

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