Our first stop after leaving in the morning is the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota.  Every year, the outside is decorated with corn, grasses and other plants.  Begun in 1892, the Corn Palace is somewhere you might think will be, if you’ll excuse the expression, corny, but as my best friend found out several years ago, it’s really interesting.


Hay’s an important crop, so hay and grass for grazing are much of what we see as we drive through South Dakota.  Earlier in the year, we would have seen sunflowers, but I only spot one field of them.  

Since it’s Bike Rally week in Sturgis, there are literally hundreds of bikers on the road.  Motels and hotels are filled as far as five or six hours away.  Bikers who look like they were young during the 60’s and older couples whose motorcycles sport sidecars all make the trek from all over the country.  It’s always the first week of August and some wild and crazy things go on.


At Chamberlain, we cross the Missouri, not as wide as the Mississippi, but quite wide.  We’ve seen it in flood, but this year, although there’s plenty of water, it’s all within the banks.


Here are some examples of what we see as we get closer to the Bighorns.



I’ve taken lots of cloud shots today as the sky’s been spectacular.  Here’s just one.


Where there’s irrigation and the fields are green, you’ll find the antelope.  Talk about wallowing in your food!!  We like to call them cantaloupe, but whatever you call them, they’re enjoying the results of modern farming.  Theirs is the original fast food.


At last we’re almost ready to start up the mountain.  The Red Grade Road isn’t your mother’s road, although it might be your great-grandmother’s.  It’s euphemistically called “unimproved” and the sign at the bottom suggests four-wheel drive only.  Because it’s Sunday night, we meet lots of people coming down from their day in the mountains, a number of them on four-wheelers.  The road, although not bad this by Red Grade standards, holds us to our lowest gear and about 10 miles per hour.  It can be a bit hairy coming down, as you’re on the side with the huge drop-off to your right and the road isn’t always wide enough for two vehicles.  The one coming down is always supposed to wait for the one coming up to be able to get by, but that doesn’t always happen these days.  Be sure your brakes are in good condition, don’t ride them, and use your lowest gear.


The view as we almost reach the stop is spectacular.  We stay at about 7,000 feet and there’s no phone coverage unless you have a satellite phone.  Internet didn’t show up until about five or six years ago and it’s still rather slow.  My iPad doesn’t have the distance to connect to the signal so I had to go sit on a nearby rock to send these pictures to my email.  Then WordPress didn’t want to load because of the slow connection and I had to go to an alternate method of posting.  But being disconnected is part of the joy.  Still, I want to share the trip with you, so I’m glad I finally figured it out. 


Time to be done for the night.  Tomorrow is the first ride of the year, some hiking, and lots of relaxation…time to think, time to listen to the natural sounds, time to gaze at the mountains.  See you tomorrow.

  1. The corn palace looks like a russian church – how cool! have a wonderful time – it looks great there.

  2. wow, Spectacular views – thanks for sharing them.
    I want to go one day, too! Keep sending them. Enjoy…Randy

  3. Joe Owens says:

    A beautiful post Janet. So glad you get the time away to enjoy and recharge.

    • Me, too, Joe, although getting ready and planning for the trip was quite a feat as well. Meals are particularly hard because you have to buy food in town and can’t just run to the store to forget something as it takes about 30 minutes just to get down the mountain and then another 15 or so into town. But I always unwind up here.


  4. vastlycurious.com says:

    Just a beautiful gallery! Loved the black cows in the field!

    • Glad you liked them. I love the countryside that’s on the way out here, from the civilized fields of Illinois to wilder Wisconsin, wide-open Minnesota farms, and the spare land of South Dakota and Wisconsin. It was hard to choose which pictures to include. 🙂


  5. Great scenery. Thanks for taking us along for the ride.



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