The morning started at 5:30 AM – really early for someone who didn’t get to bed until midnight and had a hard time falling asleep. I was really worried that I’d wake up feeling like someone had run me over with a truck, especially since the mattress at the Homewood Suites near Bradley Airport was a bit soft for someone with fibromyalgia. But I woke up feeling great – I guess that’s what vacation can do for you. By the way, we usually like Homewood Suites. We’ve had really good stays there in Mechanicsburg, PA as well as other places. But this one was not really up to their standard. They put us on the second floor (walk up, no elevator) and I have trouble with stairs. If it had been more than a one night stay, I’d have put up a fuss when the girl at the desk gave us attitude about being “full up” and not being able to accommodate my needs. When I did walk up the stairs, the window in our room had 4 wasps on it. I wasn’t happy, although my husband was kind enough to play “wasp slayer” and secure the room for me.
Anyway, we got to Bradley Airport with plenty of time to spare, got our boarding passes and got in the long security check line. Fortunately, the line moved right along and we had a few minutes to relax before boarding our non-stop Northwest Airlines flight to Minneapolis. I’ve found that you can almost predict how a flight is going to go by watching the passengers prior to boarding. This bunch was really mellow and our flight to Minneapolis was quiet and relaxed. I even managed to doze for a while. We got to Minneapolis just a few minutes behind schedule, because of runway construction, not any problem with Northwest.
The airport in Minneapolis is huge and it seemed like a 3 mile hike to get to baggage claim. But our bags were some of the first ones off and we had no problems picking up our reserved car at Alamo. We got a Chrysler Pacifica because we’ll need the extra room when we spend the weekend with our Lakota friends in Rapid City. So we piled the luggage in and set off.
It was then that something very unexpected and wonderful happened. As we headed south from Minneapolis on Rt 35, barely outside the city limits, I spotted a large bird of prey soaring along the right side of our car. I checked closer and it was a Bald Eagle. I know there are lots of eagles in Minnesota and I hope to see them on the second half of this vacation. But this one was soaring in circles just to the right of our car in an urban setting. This is now the fourth time we have had an eagle swoop down from the right side of our car so that we could clearly see it! Utah, South Dakota, Montana – and now Minnesota. I don’t know a whole lot about eagles but I haven’t encountered anyone else who has had this happen. I know eagles are important in Lakota culture, but I don’t know what it means to have them keep finding us. This one was truly unexpected! We didn’t see any other large birds for a good half hour or more after that. What a treat!
We drove down Rt 35 to Rt I 90 West. Driving through Minnesota gave me a better appreciation for the vastness of agriculture in this country. We in New England are familiar with farms, but they are usually of the family farm variety. In fact, my grandparents on my father’s side owned and ran a small dairy farm. But here, agriculture is huge. Fields stretch out as far as you can see, primarily corn, although the are other crops too. At this time of year, the corn stalks are dried and farmers are working on turning them into silage for winter feed. The colors of the fields were beautiful – the muted gold of the corn, the dark brown earth, the rust and pale yellow remains of other crops, the trees that surround the farm houses starting to turn color. The land is relatively flat and stretches out for miles. Rt I 90 is mostly straight in this stretch. The sky seems to go on forever. It was warm and slightly humid, due to the rain we’d left in Minneapolis.
Traffic was pretty light for Friday on a holiday weekend. We made sure we took breaks at least once an hour. It helps the fibromyalgia. The rest areas along I 90 in southwestern side were clean and well laid out for walks to stretch. I even had time for a short swing on the playground they had. The also had information about the state of Minnesota: it’s history, it’s industrial/agricultural credits, and the like. At one of the rest stops, we picked up a lady bug on our windshield that was determined to hang on in the face of our 70 mph speed. That bug clung to the windshield for 50 miles! It was interesting to watch it work to stay on from the interior; it moved one leg occasionally, eventually making a 4 inch journey across the windshield in the face of 70 mph forces in additions to the winds which were also brisk. I think we lost it when we got into South Dakota and started to encounter more hills and valleys – more variance in the cross winds. I expect that was one very confused, very lost lady bug!
You could see the change in terrain from the flatness of Minnesota’s fields to hills and valleys – still fields and grazing land, more cows – in the southeastern part of South Dakota. It changed noticeably within 5 or 6 miles of the Minnesota/South Dakota border. Very interesting to think about how state lines were drawn. Was topography part of the equation?
We stopped in Worthington, MN for lunch/dinner at the Country Kitchen. We had never eaten at a Country Kitchen Restaurant before. The food was tasty, the prices were moderate and service was excellent. Then we continued on I 90 in South Dakota. Lots of billboards and signs for Wall Drug, an historic drugstore with free ice water and nickel coffee, located in Wall, SD. Where else would it be? It’s quite the place and they certainly know how to market it. Having been there on other occasions, I think we’ll skip it this time.
We arrived in Mitchell, SD about 5 PM. Even though I forgot to take my Ritalin at noon, I was still going strong after 12 hours up and only 5 hours sleep. Our first stop in Mitchell was the Corn Palace in the downtown area. It’s a large building with onion-style domes (like on a Russian palace or church) and a facade made of various parts of corn. The corn is fashioned into scenes and designs. Interesting, but not something I’d go out of my way to see if I wasn’t in the town already. We did stop to check out the tourist trap – I mean gift shop – across the street from the Palace. The only thing we bought was a ear of popping corn that you pop right on the cob in a paper bag, just for kicks. My husband cooked it and ate it tonight for a snack. He said it wasn’t too bad for plain, unbuttered, unsalted popcorn.
After the Corn Palace, we went to the WalMart Supercenter in Mitchell (which happened to be across the street from our hotel) to pick up a few supplies: distilled water for my CPAP machine, water and some fruit for us. We had 7 items, but bypassed the 10 items or less express lane when we noticed the woman in front of us had 25 or 30 items. I guess they don’t teach them all to count out here.
We finally drove over to the Hampton Inn to check in. This was the way a hotel should be run. Efficient, orderly, clean and well appointed decor. The room has a small fridge and microwave. The bathroom is ample and clean. Very pleasant.
While I watched Ghost Whisperer and Midnight, my husband went out to gas up the car and check out the rest of the hotel. Since it’s almost midnight again and we’ve got at least 4 hours on the road to get to Rapid City tomorrow. I’d better wrap this up so I can walk up bright and early. I can’t wait to see my “godchild” and her family.