Spending five weeks together driving across America is a great test of a marriage. We have always done everything together – just not four hundred miles a day for so many days. The results were a stronger relationship, so many more memories together, shared delight in the God moments we witnessed, and a greater appreciation for the beauty of and freedoms enjoyed in America. This was our 2023 journey. We hope you will plan your own…
From Duluth we traveled through St. Cloud, Minnesota, and on to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It was our first time in South Dakota and we had no idea the treasures we would find.
We saw miles and miles of corn, sorghum, and grains. There is something calming about watching these crops gently sway in the breezes and provide a texture to a flat landscape. As we got closer to Sioux Falls the landscape became more rolling with rock out-cropping’s. There seemed to be less corn, more soybeans growing and giant silos rising out of the flat plains like conical mountains. Fortunately, the speed limit goes to 80 mph in these straight aways.
On the way we discovered Wild Prairie Winery just north of Sioux Falls. 48052 259th St., Brandon, South Dakota 57005. www.wildepririewinery.com. The signage made it easy to find and it was not far off of the main roads. Once there we found an old barn, that used to house animals, but has been converted into a winery and tasting room. Owner Victoria Wilde met us in the tasting room where we learned about her wine making philosophy and tasted her wines. She and her husband produce 500 cases per year from their estate vineyard where they grow Marquette, Briana, and LaCrescent. Not only does Victoria make the wine but she is an artist. In the tasting room they sell their wines and her art. It is the people and their stories that make wine interesting and personal.
Falls Park is a beautiful historical location on the river in Sioux Falls where the intersection of nature and man’s development integrated to form a beautiful park. 131 E Falls Park Dr., Sioux Falls, SD 57104. www.siouxfalls.org.
The river flows over many layers of Sioux quartzite and provides a centerpiece not only for the 128 acre park but for the entire city.
In Sioux Falls we found R Wine Bar & Kitchen. It was such a comfortable venue with a great wine list and delicious foods. Paul is not a fan of gnocchi because it is often doughy. He had the softest gnocchi he has had and love it. His Filet Mignon was melt in your mouth and cut like butter. Merrill had Chicken Florentina with a delicious sauce.
We were pleased to see a Caymus Petit Sirah and Seghesio Zinfandel on the list. For dessert we had the cheesecake which was rich, firm and cheesy – just the way we like it.
322 E 8th St., Sioux Falls, South Dakota 57103 www.rwinebar.com
The most unexpected surprise was to find Mitchell, South Dakota. Merrill’s father had Mitchell family from that area. Even more impressive than having “Mitchell” everything, in Mitchell was the Corn Palace. 604 N. Main St., Mitchell, South Dakota. www.cornpalace.com.
The palace is graced by 325,000 colorful ears of corn that are painstakingly sliced and nailed into place. Each year is a different theme. Thirteen colors of corn are grown and harvested from 100 acres to create the designs inside and outside each year.
Moving on to Rapid City, South Dakota, we crossed the Missouri River which looked as big as the Mississippi and appeared suddenly on the road trip like a giant lake at the end of the road. Across the lake the land was not so flat, there were rolling hills with more cows than crops. The texture of the land looked like billowing green velvet. The land with crops were often checkered or striped with green leafy crops and yellow grains.
Most of our favorite stops are surprise discoveries along the way. There on the highway before Rapid City was a town called 1880. It is literally a recreated town full of authentic 1880 structures. It has one of the most interesting and thorough museums of the wild west that we have seen and has been used for many movie sets. It has a hotel saloon where you can enjoy refreshments and listen to the piano player. 24280 SD Hwy 63 I90 Exit 170, Midland, SD 57552. www.1880town.com
Paul made a most convincing sheriff!
Back on our way to Rapid City we saw a sign for a Badlands Scenic Byway so we went. What a great decision! God moment!
It was three miles off the main road. The rolling grassland transitioned into a spectacular sculpted sand dune valley. We felt like we were in a moon scape. It is so dramatic, and the visitor center has great information about how to appreciate it.
There are many overlooks for photos and eight hiking trails. Since the structures are made mostly of sand, they erode about one inch per year so the they are constantly changing as they disappear. 25216 Ben Reifel Road, Interior, South Dakota 57750. www.rps.gov/badl/
Dinner was at the Independent Ale House in Rapid City. The wine and beer list offered a good selection. Pizzas and salads were good. 625 St. Joseph St., Rapid City, SD 57701. www.independentalehouse.com
The most inspiring sculpture features our forefathers looking over us. Stern, confident, and imposing, they seamlessly appear from the rock as though ever-present.
Crazy Horse will someday be just as imposing. It is in its formative years – now seventy-five years in the making.