6/18/2011 – Day 73 – Sioux Falls, ND to Badlands National Park – 288.6 Miles

After a satisfactory night at a down-at-the-heels Rodeway Inn, we breakfasted at “The Frying Pan,” a coffee shop right in front of the motel.  The food was good, and we were stunned when the “sticky roll” Diana ordered was almost as big as a dinner plate.  The waitress had warned us, so we had asked for a box right away and we took most of it with us for future enjoyment.

Also in front of the motel was a BP gas station with the lowest price for gas we have seen on the entire trip:  $3.39 9/10 a gallon!  Needless to say, the tank was full to the top when we drove away.

About an hour later we stopped at Mitchell to see the “Only Corn Palace in the World,” as it is proudly named.  It is a large, squarish building with bunches of “Red Squarish” minarets and “onion skin” type domes festooned around the top.  It is decorated annually with corn ears in a surprisingly detailed manner.  This year’s theme appeared to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Wesleyan.  It was… um, OK, but not worth driving all the way from Sioux Falls if that was your only reason for heading that way.  The birds did seem to like the decorations, though.

We continued west on I-90, and when we came to the Missouri River we stopped at a rest stop which commemorated the passage of the Lewis and Clark expedition.  The boys stopped along the river here on the way west, and on their way back east two years later.  It was a beautiful day and the view of the “Wide Missouri” was impressive.

After a long day’s driving we arrived at Badlands National Park and drove to the visitor’s center.  We found out from the ranger that the campground was not full, so we pulled in, picked a spot and set up housekeeping.

We noticed another Camp Inn teardrop just a couple of campsites away from ours and walked over to meet our neighbors who have such excellent taste.  Tom & Robin just picked up their trailer five days ago and are in the middle of a trip west.  They are from Maryland.  We had a nice chat with them and compared our two trailers.  Theirs is #437, I think, and they have it well-equipped with not only a real DC fridge, but also an 85 watt solar collector to keep things charged up.  Very cool!  Also their good taste extends to the vehicle they are using to tow their new teardrop — a Forester!  It’s a small world!

Speaking of a small world, two gentlemen parked their shiny new motorhome next to our site and when I overheard them speaking German, I struck up a conversation.  Turns out they flew in from Germany on Wednesday, picked up the new vehicle, and for a very reasonable rate they are transporting it to San Francisco.  The rental company avoids an expensive transportation fee, and the tourists get a cut-rate deal on a nice camper.  The men are from Cologne and I had fun polishing up my rusty language skills with them.

The stars were particularly bright before moonrise, and we went to sleep cozy and happy in our old/new teardrop.

Camping in Badlands National Park

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