Jay and Gina's Journal
5 August 2011
An announcement on TV this AM made me hopeful that we would see the Aurora Borealis tonight after 11PM, but we had major thunderstorms instead. When I announced the possibility of the sighting on the bus, I wasn’t met with wild enthusiasm for a party to stay up to see it. I gave my count of the total number of times we have crossed the Missouri River, which was 11. Bob said it had to be an even number, because we started out on the north side of the river and are still on the north side. I finally crossed check our route on the maps, and discovered that I had counted a crossing of the Sioux River just above its confluence with the Missouri River at Sioux Falls as a crossing of the Missouri River itself. Shame on me.
Traveling on 2 lane roads allows for great observation of the topography. I’ve noted small rolls of hay on the side of the roads between the highway and cultivated fields. Every bit of hay that can be mowed, is.
At Fort Randall, we suddenly in rolling hills with higher hills to the north. Cattle can be seen grazing in the grass on the hills. instead of the mowed hills of hay or corn and soy beans. Won $2.20 for the $1 in put in the slot machine at the rest stop/casino.
We did cross the river two more times via a dam at Pickstown, SD to see the partially reconstructed church at historic Ft. Randall.
Stopped for a picnic lunch at Chamberlain, SD to see the St. Joseph Indian School. They take Native American children from a 350 mile radius,, teaching K -12th grade at no charge to the families. The majority of the children live at the school in a family setting, assigned to the homes by grade level. Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel has been redesigned to incorporate the Native American heritage. It was even blessed by the Medicine Man when completed. It contains a lovely weaving of a side view of a Native American crucified Christ. the Akta Lakota Museum displayed items that have been gifted to the school by Native Americans over the years.. Our guide, David teaches middle school social studies at St. Joseph. After years of received begging letters, it’s nice to know what they do.
Our drive through the Big Bend area of the river was gorgeous! We had hoped to see buffalo, but had to settle for a quick glimpse of two pronghorns. The pronghorns are numerous in the area, but very fast moving, (second only to cheetahs), and therefore hard to spot. We also saw white pelicans at a distance on the water, confirmed by my very fuzzy photo. The shape was correct, and their presence in the area confirmed by the on board bird book - thank you Bob, and the reports of Lewis and Clark Saw our first fields of cultivated sunflowers. I missed Isabel to share them with.
We crossed the Missouri River again to reach Pierre, SD and the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center. The building itself is built so that it’s partially buried in the side of the hill - sort of like a sod house, with the prairie grass growing right up to it. Its theme is the history of South Dakota, so they have some early Indian history, and then show the development of the state. I liked the taxi in Pierre that was a landau carriage (1905), the large rock with a carved out spot in which to place your hand to say a prayer, and the electrified cow that one was to try milking. The object of the cow exhibit was to prove that people are a lot slower at milking a cow than a machine. Wonder what the cow thinks??
After dinner of Buffalo Stew :(, several of us walked up to the Capitol building( very attractive) to look inside and around the hot spring fed lake. The lake attracts birds and ducks in the winter because it doesn’t freeze over.
We traveled 275 miles yesterday for a total of 1123 to date.