Day 3: Iowa to South Dakota on the road less traveled

We will get to one of my favorite places on this journey, and when you see it, you too will be mesmerized, but we, of course, had to travel to get there and traveling comes with pictures and stories. Last night the Wallydocking was not bad at all. It was safe and quiet, and as usual, we were tired, so we slept like babies.

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We took some backroads first thing this morning. It was nice but very foggy for many miles, which slowed driving down but also limited our views. The fog eventually cleared up and we saw a lot of beautiful farms. We drove from Iowa into Nebraska where we continued to stay on a highway instead of interstate driving. We did come across a neat find, the Lewis & Clark Campsite which was a Nebraska Historical Marker. We stopped to read about this piece of history. It was things like this that made us glad we took the backroads.


We eventually did end up back on the interstate which was fine with me too because this is where I was most likely to see another truck camper and state tags. We crossed the Missouri River, which had flooded, and that was, of course, interesting to see. The most interesting part of the flood was the interstate was flooded. I am sharing pictures, but I also have a video of tractor-trailers going through the water as they put up quite a splash. I know it seems silly, but remember, it is the little things that I find amusing.


It must flood often there as they seemed to be well organized in the process to get everyone through the water and onto their destination. Unlike here in North Carolina where a sign that says “merge right lane closed in 1-mile” brings a bottleneck of traffic. We did not see any problems with traffic anywhere we went, and in over 6,000 miles of traveling only saw one wreck which appeared to be a fender bender and one person stopped for probably speeding, which is crazy being the speed limit was 80 mph in a lot of places. We even saw school buses that were running over 60 miles an hour. We, of course, did not run that fast with a truck camper, but I do think I would like to travel that road in a car. I used to say when I “grow up” I want to be a race car driver, but age and experience have changed my perspective. I do like to get where I am going and I cannot stand to ride behind something that I cannot see around and therefore will sometimes “speed” to get around them, but for the most part, I am content driving slower than I used to. Now my co-worker seems to use the brake or lack of, on her side often when I am driving. If she could comfortably hold her “oh shit bar” I am sure she would never let go of it when she rides with me. It’s not that I drive fast, it’s more that I wait until the last minute to brake, hoping the person in front of me might get a little spunky and get up the road. Chip rarely ever lets me drive and is usually holding on when he does. I am good with it though as I would rather ride and look than drive, as I may miss something I wanted to see.


There I go with that lazy Susan again. Back to our trip. We typically ate our lunch at a rest area. Today we ate at a beautiful rest area in South Dakota. I did not see anyone else take their picture with the rest stop bathroom “wall” but why pass up a beautiful backdrop, even if it was the bathroom. Chip wouldn’t let me ask anyone at the “rest area” to take our picture together but at least did amuse me and let me take his picture.


As we continued driving on the interstate, several hours later, we decided to stop at a rest area to stretch our legs. We were on Interstate 90 near Chamberlain South Dakota. This was another interesting rest area. A breathtaking statue that is best described from their website:

Representing the rich Native American culture of South Dakota, the 50-foot Native woman gracefully wears a dress patterned after a two-hide Native dress of the 1850s. She holds outstretched a quilt featuring 128 stainless steel blue diamond shapes designed to flutter in the wind. During the day, her star quilt – a representation of respect, honor, and admiration in Native American culture – glitters in the sun with color-changing pieces that move with the wind. At night, LED lights cause the diamond shapes to glow in the night sky, casting a peaceful presence easily visible from the Interstate.


The short hike took you to a beautiful overlook of the Missouri River. I, of course, was on high alert after seeing this sign at the beginning of the trail. A sign that became as common as the stop sign on most of our journey. Rest areas were also great places to spot other truck campers. The white truck is ours, the dark one was someone that parked beside us.




Our next stop, not planned, off the beaten path was in Mitchell, South Dakota. Did you know Mitchell was the home to the world’s only corn palace? Don’t fret, I didn’t know that either, but it was worth seeing. Every detail was made from a part of a stalk of corn. It started as part of a fall festival in 1892 and now attracts more than half a million visitors annually. I could not capture the uniqueness in my pictures; you will need to check out their webpage to learn more about it.


The next stop, which was planned, was Wall Drugs. It was once a small drug store that was started in 1931 and was looking for a marketing idea to get visitors to stop in. The success of Wall Drug back in the day was anyone who stopped in the drug store was given free ice water, today you can still get free ice water, but trust me they don’t need to bribe visitors into the drug store today. Wall Drug store has over 2-million visitors annually. The highway on the way to Wall reminded me somewhat of South of the Border in South Carolina as there were catchy billboards lining the highway to pique your curiosity.
I had a lot of fun with the camera at this stop. It was a chance to be like a kid, and I never miss those opportunities. I even got Chip in on the fun, though reluctantly, I can assure you.


Once we left the Wall Drug store, our next stop was our camping destination for the night, and this was as beautiful as Chip had told me it would be. I had eagerly anticipated this night since he started planning our trip months ago. The view was even more spectacular than I thought it would be.

There were all types of campers already set up and enjoying the view when we arrived. There was everything from tents to million-dollar motor homes, tag-alongs, of course, truck campers, and our dream camper an Earth Roamer. If you want to see the ultimate boondocking camper, then check out the Earth Roamer website. I can only dream.


It was a perfect ending to the day. We ate an amazing dinner of venison chili and cornbread Chip, my personal chef, cooked in his lodge cast-iron skillet. I love my easy cleanup frying pans but he only cooks in cast iron, but he is an amazing cook, and he always cleans his own pan, so I am definitely not going to complain. Did you know you are not supposed to clean cast iron with dish detergent? I didn’t either, but that is why I no longer get to help with his pans. I didn’t ruin it, but he had to “re-season” it, and I got the lecture on how to care for cast iron. It makes sense, but out of habit that Dawn went into the cast-iron pan and the rest is history.


It was a full moon and though it was beautiful Chip really wanted me to see a true nighttime view of the stars with no light around. See this camping spot is off the beaten path as it was basically a road on the rim of the badlands. So, there were definitely no city lights anywhere in the distance and would have been the perfect location to be in true darkness. We may have to schedule our next trip on a moonless night. Did you know that a moonless night is a true fact? Once a month the moon does not appear to be visible because of the proximity of the sun and the moon. It may be a little complicated for scheduling the perfect time as just my luck it would be a cloudy night and no stars at all. We sat outside and enjoyed the beauty as the sun was setting and the badlands became illuminated by the moonlight. Chip heard coyotes in the distance, and we were hoping they would come closer in. We slept with all the windows and doors open that evening hoping I would hear the coyotes, but we never did. It was perfectly quiet and a perfect night. I hope you enjoy the pictures. They do not do justice to seeing in up close. I hope you get the chance to see the Badlands for yourself someday.


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