Before we left our overnight spot in Mitchell, South Dakota, at my request we went to see the famous Corn Palace. For you historians out there, it was built in 1892 to show young immigrant farmers what fertile soil they could have in South Dakota—enough crops to make art out of the leftovers. [Isn’t that like playing with your food? Never mind.]
Every year the outside of the building is stripped and redecorated with murals of corn, rye, oat heads and sour dock. About 275,000 ears of corn are split in half and nailed to the walls in patterns made by local artists and celebrating current concerns. Each year has a new theme.
Then we were on our way across the rest of South Dakota, across Minnesota, and into Wisconsin. We saw fields of every soil color and John Deere machinery of every configuration kicking up dust clouds as they got to work on the spring soil. Everywhere we saw wind turbines punctuating the fields, bringing another source of power to the consumers and another source of revenue to the farmers.
We went into the “historic downtown La Crosse” looking for a waterfront motel, but alas, they were full. So we ended up at a convenient spot on the Mississippi River and near the freeway to our dinner spot, the ubiquitous Olive Garden.
A scene that I liked in the ‘historic downtown’ (I love old signs painted on brick buildings):Our motel was located on French Island, and with the Mississippi surrounding it at record heights I thought I should inquire about air mattresses in the rooms, for instance. The clerk admitted that although they had been prepared to evacuate in the past few days, it “seemed to be alright now”…Good words to go to sleep by, eh?
I noticed the water was so high on the trees as we crossed over to the island that it came right up the trunk to the branches. In the evening darkness coming back from dinner with the water alongside the road I imagined Indians in their canoes sliding through the waters around French Island. I wish I could have gotten better pictures but stopping on the freeway for pictures is not considered a roadside emergency. Only to me.
The Mississippi right up to the tree branches here^in La Crosse, but the news of the hardships from flooding further south were very sobering. Dad knew that the Mississippi channel is only 9 feet deep so when heavy rains and snowmelt coincide, there is no place for the water to go but outwards, whereas our own Columbia River has a channel depth of 43 feet.
Day’s Totals: 374 Miles, Mitchell, SD to La Crosse, WI