After a very restless night with J being up and awake quite a bit, we were able to sleep in a little and got to breakfast at 7:30 am. It’s amazing how our definition of “sleeping in” has changed since we had J. In our lives before J, sleeping in meant waking up around 10-10:30 am on weekends, that too reluctantly and because we had to. On weekdays, if I didn’t have to teach and felt I had a good handle on my research projects, I would wake up at 8:30 am. Now, sleeping in is between 6:30 and 7:00 am depending how how J is doing.
Anyway, at least the breakfast was good. Being Hilton Honors Gold members, we got complimentary breakfast and dinner the night before but we were just too tired and something about salad for dinner didn’t sound appealing. So we ordered Japanese food from Tokyo Japanese and A and J went and picked up the food while I rested in the room. They discovered a health foods store called Pomegranate Market where we got some organic milk for J the next morning.
Anyway, so from Sioux Falls we had a long 5 hours drive to Rapid City where we planned on seeing Mount Rushmore. Because the Sturgis motorcycle rally was being held that weekend, every hotel we looked at cost upwards of $350 and we were not willing to pay that much. If we had to, we were willing to skip My. Rushmore. I suggested we look up Airbnb and sure enough we found one couple offering their place in Rapid City. The price was $168 – more expensive than any of our other hotels but considering what the alternatives were, we were willing to pay that much so we also get to see the historic sight.
On the way to RC, we made our first stop at the Corn Palace or the world’s first and only corn palace. I don’t have any deidentifiable pics of the Palace so I apologize for that. This corn cut out is inside the palace. Honestly, for all the hoopla made on the billboards along the highway, the place was quite underwhelming. The only thing made of corn is the outside and of course that is really impressive and my appreciation for the corn farmers and the artists who painstakingly create the pillars and structure of the palace. I guess I just expected to see more corn created structures inside the Palace as well. As a treat, we did eat a corn on the cob for $2 but other than that, just took a few pictures and went on our way.
The drive from Sioux Falls to RC was uneventful except for the millions of billboards dotting the side lands. They were unique in the sense that other than the usual restaurants and such, the majority of the were about roadside attractions that you had to pull over at an exit to enjoy. There were reptile museums, antiques, Native American trading posts, small scale amusement parks, Dances with the Wolves movie props museum, and so on. The apparently famous Wall Drugs was being advertised some 150 miles before it even existed to get tourists into the frame of wanting to visit there. I Googled it and it is a 76,000 sq. ft everything under one roof drug store including restaurants, jewelry store, dinosaur fossils hunt, etc. Aaron informed me that it is in South Dakota that one can find a lot of dinosaur fossils in the badlands. Pretty cool! No wonder there are a lot of dinosaur themed things around.
For lunch, we stopped in Chamberlain and ate at a TripAdvisor recommended restaurant called, Anchor Grille and Shipwreck Lounge. Quite a weird name for a random restaurant in kind of the middle of nowhere. Anyway, we ordered the cheeseburger and Taco Salad. We wanted Coke but the waitress said she’d have to go all the way to the back to get it so would Pepsi do, instead? Nope. I was annoyed that she was being hesitant to get us our drink even though it was in the menu just because she had to walk to the back. Granted she was the primary waitress taking orders, delivering food, checking out people, and pretty much running the place, still! Anyway, so we waited and waited and waited for our food. Meanwhile J was getting quite restless and refusing to eat his packet food as well. Also in the interim, I held him on my lap to calm him down and he peed on me which was entirely our fault. For the first time in 1.5 years, our trusted Target diapers betrayed us and leaked because we hadn’t changed it in a few hours. We meant to do it after lunch but oh well. So while A took him to the car to change him,I kept waiting for the food. Earlier, disappointed at the wait, I had asked the waitress how much longer it would take and wondered if we should just go to a McDonalds instead. Anyway, she brought the food in while A was changing J and said that she would get us the Coke and that she wouldn’t charge us for one of our foods. I was ready to write a bad review of this place but she really saved the day. We got our Coke and one complimentary meal. She was also nice the whole time. I was only getting annoyed because J was losing it for the majority of our time there.
After lunch, we kept driving on and stopped by the 1880s store (another exit attraction) for a pee break and to stretch our legs. The 1880s store was actually a museum of props from the Dances with Wolves movie and even had the horse that Kostner rode or was in the movie recently come back from the taxidermist. The man pointed to the horse’s saddle. We didn’t really want to visit the museum. We just wanted restrooms and at $11 a ticket, we weren’t really going to do it anyway. It was also a walking self tour.
We made one final stop at a scenic overlook. The building was kind of like a rest area stop except that it was very well developed with a museum, a gift shop, and even staff. The lady at the entrance of the open museum asked everyone where they were from except us. I wonder why she didn’t ask us. Anyway, we walked around the exhibits for a little bit that represented Native American dwellings, cooking styles, and animals that abound in the area, and then walked up to the second floor designed like you were climbing on an upper deck of a boat (quite cool).
From here, we just drove continuously and of course by we, I mean Aaron, while J and I slept most of the way. We realized at one point that we had crossed the central time zone and entered mountain time. We pulled into the beautiful property courtesy of the owners renting through Airbnb at about 5:00 pm.
The drive into the property was winding through a horse barn and swimming pool to the side. Teri, the owner came to the door to greet A and showed him the space which visibly impressed my hard to please husband 🙂 then she greeted J and me and said she had to leave someplace. The place was beautiful and we had a huge living room with a gigantic TV, two bedrooms, one bath all to ourselves, she had a mini fridge with goodies we could use and she even said we could use her laundry. For dinner, we did Ruby Tuesday ToGo and A went and picked it up.
Of all the places, we liked this the best in terms of accommodations. J slept really well in his own room in his crib. It really felt like we were staying at an aunt’s home. We helped ourselves to the yoghurt Teri had left us in the fridge and ate it with the Quaker Oatmeal packets that I had picked up at the Homewood Suited in Sioux Falls. We packed everything up and we’re ready to leave at about 8:00 am when Teri drove in from somewhere and said, “oh you’re packing up to leave already? I was going to make you some pancakes”. That was really nice of her. We smelled bacon and pancakes when we first woke up and I knew a previous visitor had said that she had invited them over for breakfast but of course we didn’t expect that to necessarily happen to us.
So, onward we left with destination Mt. Rushmore in mind.