Day 20 – Introduction To The Great Plains

Saturday, September 11, 2010
Miles To Date: 
2 065

Today was our last day in a city for a while! Neither of us particularly enjoyed Minneapolis but we are hoping we can handle being away from large settlement for the next 10 days or so as we travel to Salt Lake City. After preparing some lunch for the road we headed off on our trip to Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

The drive mostly had us passing through corn fields, with a few gentle hills as well. There was nothing particularly eventful but we finally saw some of the lakes Minnesota is famous for. Eventually we got to a small town called Pipespring which is home to a national monument of the same name. There are ancient quarries there where the American Indians have mined for red clay for centuries. They consider the ground sacred so used the clay to make pipes. However, the settlers managed to acquire it, probably through less than acceptable methods. In recent decades the government has apologised by giving the area national monument status and saying the Indians (and only them) can mine there again.

The area was interesting because it was set in prairie land which apparently is extremely scarce nowadays. This basically just consisted of tall grass and we even saw a couple of prairie dogs darting around. We also saw coloured ribbons tied to trees which is apparently done by the Indians for religious reasons.

Soon after the visit we crossed the South Dakota/Minnesota border and were in Sioux Falls. South Dakota has 75mph speed limits on its motorways so I got to drive the fastest I have ever legally been allowed to! Tomorrow we are going to visit the actual falls but tonight we just stayed near our motel to get our washing done in the launderette here. The motel is definitely the worst so far – Cleveland Motel6 can now rest easy as the title has been successfully relinquished. Tomorrow we make our way across South Dakota to Badlands National Park.

Photo of the day: the pipestone quarry set in the prairie.