My perhaps complicated and obviously edited plans for today read:
Saturday drive to DeSmet SD, stay 9-3 in Days Inn Mitchell (2 suites). Be still my heart! Go to De Smet!!! See Corn Palace.5 hours to De Smet; better get on the road! thoughts: it is too expensive to do a thing. So, go out, look around, get a driving map if possible, go to church and cemetery, but don't stress about getting there "in time"So, take the Badlands Loop Scenic Byway comprises 31.5 miles of roadway and along it are fourteen designated overlooks. Go south at Wall on US 240 - it comes back around to I-90.Ingalls Homestead says: Coming from the west, drive east on Interstate 90. At Mitchell, SD take Exit 330, follow SD Hwy 37 north to SD Hwy 34. Head east on SD Hwy 34 to SD Hwy 25. Head north on SD Hwy 25. Watch for signs just before reaching De Smet. May 28 - September 5
Daily 9AM - 7PM Activities are offered from 10AM - 6PM Wilder Memorial on site is free - 5 original cottonwoodsLaura Ingalls Wilder Historic Homesguided tour only. Free self-driving tour maps are available at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Homes.De Smet Alliance Church, organized and built by Pa.
303 2nd Street SW
De Smet, SD 57231The Loftus Store
206 Calumet Ave SW
De Smet, SD 57231 closes at 3 on Sat.Walking Trail to Silver Lake was completed in 2008. It provides a short concrete path
Breakfast was a little hectic, as there was only 1 person working the lobby for check in and out, answering the phone, and getting breakfast for many hungry people. She was super friendly and fine with it, just a little overtaxed. There was fresh fruit, packaged muffins, and "instant" oatmeal made possible with a carafe of hot water. Coffee and water to drink. Once that was over, we did hit the road.
Wall. Yep... For an hour or so, there was sign after sign for Wall Drug. It started to sound interesting, and we finally decided to stop. Apparently it was actually a drug store at one point, but now it is a shopping mall/tourist trap/amusement park. We had fun, bought a few things, took pictures, and shared a free coffee and doughnut. There was a mechanized gorilla who played the piano and sang. Ruth laughed and laughed. There was a giant mechanized T-Rex who growled and blew smoke. Ruth and Daniel were both terrified. We told Ruth it was a puppet, and held her tight. For hours afterwards she talked about the "puppy" and checked on Daniel and Elijah to make sure they were all right.
We took the scenic loop through the Badlands, and it was amazing. We had a picnic lunch there - bright and dusty, and very difficult to keep the boys from climbing the cliffs that were clearly marked with multiple signs for people to stay on the road, and covered with other tourists. Sigh. We marveled at the landforms, saw bison and a big prairie dog town.
|Pano of the Badlands|
Onto the Interstate across South Dakota. The hills gradually become smaller and smoother, though not really flat until the far Eastern side of the state. We saw miles of ranches, a few small towns, and not much else. There were more trees and water than I had imagined. Looking out the window at one point I said the dynamic equivalent of, "Don't get me wrong: the mountains are awe-inspiring. I could just sit and look at them all day. But this! This is real; alive. I feel as though I could just keep going all day out here. I'm in love." And Bob looked at me and said the dynamic equivalent of, "Yech! This is boring. Ugly. How could you even say such a thing?" And I must confess that a part of me died on the inside at that point. It wasn't just that we disagreed; it was a thought of us never being able to see eye-to-eye on ANYthing. Of course that is an exaggeration, but I just felt very "incompatible" at that moment. And neither of us took a single picture of this amazing country.
We stopped for gas and bathrooms, and it was very windy. We drove. We arrived in Mitchell about 6, I'm guessing. Went ahead to the hotel and checked in and unloaded, and (I think!) had supper in our rooms. They had intended to downgrade us to pet-friendly rooms, as a previous hotel had done, but when I showed the printed email receipt, he checked and our big rooms were still available, so we got them after all. Now, the reason I chose this particular hotel (besides the big rooms with sleeper sofas) was that it boasted an "indoor water park." There is a HUGE tube slide into a rather large pool, and a separate kiddie pool with a small slide, and some splash features. Our rooms were 2 out of 3 or 4 on a little balcony overlooking the pool.
The children were super excited about going swimming, and (as you know if you read my plans) I and the older girls were looking forward to going to DeSmet.
It was over an hour to DeSmet from the hotel. Bob was tired and didn't want to go. So the girls and I started figuring out who wanted to do what when Bob said that he couldn't go swimming without me; that if I went to DeSmet, all the children would have to go. That part of me that died earlier was now decomposing, I think, and I went all hollow on the inside as I realized that this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, this dream of nearly 30 years, had suddenly changed into just another opportunity to put the children first. To be the bigger person. To die. I put my face down on my pillow for about 3 seconds and then declared, "Let's go swimming!"
At the pool, Bob went with the older children in the big pool and I played with the three little ones in the kiddie pool. It was crazy fun. The girls befriended another girl who was initially scared to go down the slide, and talked her into trying. The boys made friends with another boy. They all went down that slide a hundred times. We splashed and laughed and had the best time you can imagine. Twice, the girls came to watch the little ones so I could go down the slide as well. It was so fast! The hotel boasted of a lifeguard, and warned us that she had the authority to close down the slide if people got too rowdy. Well, there was a woman sitting in a chair, reading a book. She occasionally got up and restocked the towel rack, and glanced up at the swimmers once or twice.
Once again we had comfy beds and amazing pillows. At checkout in the morning I bought a pillow to take home.
(I realize this post may come across as feeling sorry for myself, but my intention is merely to feel. Also, there are lots of really big things to talk about - the drug store, the hills, the pool, the prairie dogs... I'm running out of adjectives and refuse to say "ginormous.")