Vacation 2010 – Days 7 & 8

I wasn’t able to update the blog last night due to no internet, so this update will be for both yesterday and today.

We got up fairly early at Kadoka, and found that there were three churches in town:  a Lutheran church that started at 10, and a Presbyterian and Catholic Church that had no phone numbers listed in the book.  So we decided to go to the Lutheran church.  It was very liturgical – made us both miss our congregation.  After church we had a brief lunch, and visited a place called the Petrified Garden, that is full of rocks and chunks of petrified wood.  All very interesting.  Inside there is a huge display of all kinds of fossils found in the Badlands area – one of the most extensive collections I think I have ever seen.  We spent about 2 hours there, and then headed off to the eastern part of the state to visit two of Sharla’s aunts.

First we went to Salem to see aunt Ethel, who lives with Sharla’s cousin Daniel, his wife Grace, and their three kids still at home.  She was thrilled to see Sharla, and they caught up on all of the family status.  We had a light supper with them all.  We had a hard time getting hold of aunt Clarice (pronounce CLAIR-us) and uncle Donald who live over an hour north of Salem, because we kept getting a busy signal.  We finally tracked down a friend who lives in the same place, and they got the phone hung up.  We then made arrangements to go to their house.  We had quite an adventure finding their house, as our GPS wouldn’t go to the right street.  Lake Norden where they live is a very small town (population 430), about 80% of the streets are gravel, and none of them seem to go all the way through – they are broken up by parks or industrial areas and continue on the other side.  After a couple more phone calls, Sharla had an “aha” moment that allowed us to get to the right place.  We had a delightful hour-long conversation.

Lake Norden is a long ways from anyplace else, and so we were a little concerned about driving for a long time to find a motel.  But aunt Clarice told us that there was one right in town, and got the number for us.  This was also a bit of an adventure.  First of all, the “office” for the motel was the front room of a house which our GPS refused to find for us.  Part of the problem was that the street address was 817, and the house was between 904 and 936!  Anyway, we paid cash for our room (they don’t accept credit cards, but he was willing to take either cash or a personal check from someone who lives nearly 2000 miles away!), and were given a key and directions to the motel itself, which was about 4 blocks away, “across the street from the grain silos.”  We were in room 1.

When we got there, we found that there were exactly 2 rooms in the motel, which looked like they were studio apartments at one time.  But the room was clean and cozy, and we slept well.

We were up early this morning, realizing that we had a long way to go today.  We have been very efficient with our planning, and it looks like we will have a little extra time, so we spent time last night planning an extra stopover at Niagara Falls.  It changes our route, but we should still be able to get everything done and be to Kentucky in plenty of time for the seminar.  Anyway, the new stop gives us a couple of long days of driving.  Today we drove through the southern part of Minnesota, the center of Iowa, and across most of Illinois.  One of the more interesting things that we have seen today is miles and miles of cornfields.  What makes it interesting is that the corn is just standing there turning brown.  Back here we pick the corn while it is still all green (except the kernels which are yellow and juicy at that stage), and eat them fresh.  In this part of the country they seem to do a lot more of growing it like wheat – letting it dry on the stalk, and then harvesting the dried kernels, for seed or for meal.

Anyway, we are spending the night in Ottawa, Illinois tonight.  Ottawa’s claim to fame is that it is the site of the first Lincoln-Douglas debate in 1860 (a debate in which, by all contemporary accounts, Lincoln lost by a wide margin!).  They have a historical site downtown that we are going to go see before we leave town.

Tomorrow we are going to get a fairly early start, and plan to arrive at Niagara Falls tomorrow night.  We will go see the falls itself Wednesday morning, and then be off to Philadelphia.

Good night and God bless!

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